The Sunday Mail
SUNGURA godfather and Khiama Boys frontman Nicholas Zakaria, who now boasts of close to half a century in the music industry, believes his moment of glory is nigh.
Over the years, he has helped nurture talent, with his most outstanding student being sungura virtuoso Alick Macheso.
However, despite his success in grooming other musicians, Zakaria’s career has somewhat taken a backseat despite his unquestionable ability and prowess.
“I joined the music industry in 1975 and this year I have clocked 45 years in the game. It has been a roller-coaster career for me and I remember at one time I was a drummer for a band called Oasis.
“My first music band was Green Mangoes, which I formed early in my career. This was followed by another dalliance with Vhuka Boys, where I worked with the likes of Shepherd Chinyani and Solo Makore,” the soft-spoken sungura musician told The Sunday Mail Society.
With the experience gained, Zakaria subsequently formed the all-conquering Khiama Boys outfit in 1984.
The group had an impressive cast featuring the likes of Sam Chikudzura, Silas Chakanyuka, Fanuel “System” Tazvida, Lovemore Tom, Ephraim Joe, Shepherd Chinyani, Alick Macheso and Cephas Karushanga.
The band gained critical acclaim and became a household name.
Some of the group’s hit songs include “Mabhauwa”, “Mabvi Nemagokora”, “Chikumbiro”, “Mazano”, “Tsamba”, “Ida anokuda” and “Zomvelamvela.”
While Zakaria has not slacked in producing quality music, there was some lull in the marketing of his work.
As a result, most fans quickly dismissed him as a spent force.
However, the veteran composer and singer’s fortunes have of late taken a positive turn.
This follows a two-year “renewable” deal he signed with an award-winning public relations and brand development company, Esteem Communications.
“Reflecting back, I want to thank God for this gift, the loyal fans and all music stakeholders that have continued to rally behind me. I never stopped making music!
“Of course, I once took a sabbatical in 1997 to concentrate on truck driving, which led to the split with my cousin Alick (Macheso) and younger brother Zakaria Zakaria. They went on to form their own band, Orchestra Mberikwazvo, which has become a household name, while Zakaria later formed his own Chilli Boys before the recent return to Orchestra Mberikwazvo,” explained Zakaria.
The sungura godfather believes the lapse in marketing cost him.
“Khiama Boys has remained in the game although a lot was required in terms of marketing the good music we have been producing. We are happy with the new direction we are taking and we are super-excited about the future,” said the goat-bearded Zakaria.
“We realised our shortcomings and approached Esteem Communications whom we had seen marketing other artistes and various corporate brands successfully and professionally. The move has proved to be a masterstroke, given that our public relations as well as digital marketing and online presence have improved tremendously.”
Under the new marketing deal, Khiama Boys managed not only to win new fans, but also walk away with their first music gong at the Zimbabwe Music Awards (Zima) in January this year.
A number of collaborations with local and regional artistes have also been lined up, while new videos have been dropped.
The musician was scheduled to launch his 28th album “Zadziso” on Friday at a hotel in the capital.
The six-track album features Beatrice-based sungura singer Simon Mutambi.
Before Friday’s album launch, Zakaria had recently launched a classy video of his golden oldie “Zomvelamvela”.
Fashionista, image consultant and Trendzone Designer Wear managing director Florence Rupapa bought the video for US$500.
“We have revamped our team and deployed my son Lazarus Zakaria as the band manager. He is vibrant and willing to learn. Morale is high in the camp. We also want to thank the likes of Prophet Chifamba of Sword Ministries who has weighed in with various donations for the band’s welfare during this lockdown period,” he said.
One of Zakaria’s dreams is to set up an arts centre in his name in the same way Oliver Mtukudzi did with Pakare Paye in Norton.
He has 4 000 square meters of land donated by Chitungwiza Town Council dedicated for the purpose.
Similarly, he is calling upon well-wishers to assist in all ways possible to make the dream come true.
Zakaria is a father of five — four boys (one is late) and a girl — and grandfather of four as well.
He owns two houses in Chitungwiza and an imposing home in Norton.
In addition, he has various stands in Norton, Nyatsime, Chitungwiza and Stoneridge.
“I am grateful to God for what I have achieved thus far. But I believe more is yet to come. In fact, it has started coming,” he said with a chuckle.
His new album “Zadziso” has already received positive rave reviews.
Tracks on it include “Bvuma Kurairwa”, “Chitsaru”, “Hupenyu Ivhiri”, “Zvemazuvano”, “Pafunge” and “Mufaro”.