BY WINSTONE ANTONIO
THE death of legendary musician Zexie Manatsa has plunged the showbiz fraternity and nation at large into mourning.
Manatsa succumbed to cancer at Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals in Harare.
He was 78.
Famed for hit songs such as Chipo Chiroorwa, the iconic musician had been unwell for sometime since he was diagnosed with cancer in August last year. His son Tendai, husband to fellow musician Selmor Mtukudzi, told NewsDay Life & Style that mourners were gathered at 3564 Westminster Sentosa, Mabelreign in Harare, adding that burial arrangements would be announced in due course.
Artsites, music promoters and stakeholders in the creative industry who spoke to NewsDay Life & Style, described the death of Manatsa as a void that would be hard to fill.
National Arts Council of Zimbabwe (NACZ) said the death of Manatsa robbed the nation of one of the pioneers of township music and most talented artists who inspired many musicians.
“Manatsa was a uniquely-talented individual who was not only concerned about his own musical career, but also shared his talent with other musicians notably leading to the formation of the Sunrise Kwela Kings at Jairos Jiri Centre in Bulawayo where he advocated for the inclusion of musical skills training,” NACZ director Nicholas Moyo said in a statement.
“Manatsa was passionate about the welfare of artistes. Growing up in an era when people looked down on musicians, he advocated for the recognition of music as a serious profession. Last year Zexie Manatsa was one of the recipients of the National Arts Merit Awards (Nama) legends@40 Awards for his consistent contribution to the development of the Zimbabwean music sector.”
Zimbabwe Music Awards (Zima) said they had learnt with sadness the death of Manatsa.
“Zimbabwe Music Awards passes its deepest condolences to the Manatsa family and the entire music fraternity following the sad loss of the seasoned singer, songwriter and bass player who was the founder of Green Arrows Band,” said Zima spokesperson Benjamin Nyandoro.
Music Associations and Arts Promoters in Zimbabwe chairperson Partson “Chipaz” Chimbodza said: “We are deeply saddened by the passing away of our father, our icon and our hero. Its a great loss to our industry. Mwari nyaradzai mhuri yasara ngatichemei tiine tariro inzara yedu tese (God please console the deceased’s family and let us mourn remembering that we will also die).”
At the peak of his career, Manatsa inspired many musicians of his era such as the late music hero Oliver Mtukudzi, who said he learnt to play the electric guitar from Zexie and would curtain raise for Green Arrows.”
“Zexie Manatsa was the first artiste to receive the Cheuka Shure/ Bheki emuvha Zima award handed over by the late Tuku in 2006 at the Meikles. May his soul rest in peace.”
Gospel singer Tafadzwa Mukaro said she was gutted by the death of Manatsa.
“The death of our father in music Zexie Manatsa has robbed the nation of a well-loved musician who entertained the country for decades and performed alongside hundreds of local and international musicians,” she said.
“His wise counsel will be missed by the scores of musicians who had an opportunity to work with him and those who enjoyed his performances. May the comfort from God and others in this time of sorrow support his entire family.”
Veteran music promoter Josh Hozheri said he was deeply hurt by the passing on of Manatsa.
“Zexie Manatsa was a legend. He was one of the pioneering superstars who always remained humble regardless of the fame they had,” he said.
“I hope and pray that the current musicians will emulate the good behaviour and humbleness from such a clean artist. May his soul rest in peace.”
Socialite and music promoter Wanisai “Mahwindo” Tendai, who runs Mahwindo Foundation that has been influential in helping artistes under this COVID-19 pandemic, said: “Zexie Manatsa was a figurehead in the entertainment industry. May his soul rest in peace.”
Former NACZ director Elvas Mari said: “Our legends are going one by one and we remain extremely exposed in the creative industries. My sincere condolences. May his soul rest in peace.”
Manatsa is survived by wife Stellah Manatsa (nee Katehwe) and six children.
- Follow Winstone on Twitter @widzoanto