The Sunday Mail
THE granddad of sungura music Nicholas “Madzibaba” Zacharia is a unique artiste — he has accomplished so much yet he remains a humble musician.
With all the artistes he has mentored throughout his career spanning over four decades, the 60-year-old entertainer remains modest.
For instance, the musician recently completed constructing his mansion in Knowe, Norton, but is not eager to move into the house.
Instead of moving in with his family into the new house and becoming neighbours with fellow music icon Oliver Mtukudzi, Madzibaba said the move was not likely to happen in his lifetime. He wants to linger in Chitungwiza.
Madzibaba said despite exhausting most if not all of his resources constructing the Norton house, he is ready to put up another “average” structure in Chitungwiza where he has spent a greater part of his life.
“I might fail to build another big house like the one that I have put up in Norton, but I’m going to construct a decent structure in Chitungwiza that my family and I can fit into,” said Madzibaba.
The route being taken by the veteran musician has been traversed before by his protégé Alick Macheso who for a long time vowed he would not leave the dormitory town of Chitungwiza but now resides in Waterfalls.
The gospel couple of Baba and Amai Charamba did not waste a split second when the opportunity of moving from a high-density suburb to a low-density suburb availed itself.
And of late Zim dancehall artistes in the mould of Seh Calaz, Soul Jah Love and Tocky Vibes, among others, have been abandoning their ghettos of origin for new and flashy residential areas.
However, Madzibaba’s decision is being influenced by more than just love of the dormitory town.
The musician has been made “irresistible” offers that he is seriously considering.
“I built the house with the intention of relocating, but the Municipality of Chitungwiza has made me reconsider. They have since appointed me a cultural ambassador of the town and promised a lot. I want a ground equivalent to that in Norton (3 000 square metres) where I built my 14-bedroomed house that has a five-bedroomed cottage,” said Zacharia.
“Council officials have shown me the ground they want to give me but seem reluctant to release title deeds. They still fear I might relocate to Norton,” he added.
The musician, not taking into account the period he took a break from the guitar and went into the truck driving business, has remained consistent in the industry regularly releasing superb works.
Last week Madzibaba launched his 26th album “Rumbidzo” in the capital.
It is still too early to judge the impact of the album on the market, but it has been receiving fair airplay on Radio Zimbabwe and National FM as well as in different places around the country.
Interesting though is the fact that Professor Zacharia, a title bestowed on him by Elvas Mari at his album launch, believes this new offering is his best project to date.
Yes, better than all the other albums like “Chiedza”, “Mashoko” and “Dzidziso”.
“There are times when you just go to the studio and record an album just to maintain visibility on the market, but that was not the case with this project. I worked on it wholeheartedly and believe this is my best album ever. My fans have been calling telling me that I outdid myself and I do believe them since I share the same feeling with them,” revealed Zacharia.
Songs on the six-track album include “Pamutanda”, “Rudo Runokosha”, “Mbiri Ndeya Mwari”, “Mwari Anogona”, “Pane Nyaya” and “Wakakodzera”.
Over the years Zacharia has been nicknamed Madzibaba because of his apostolic fellowship that dates back to late 80s. But he has since crossed floors and is now a full-time Prophetic Healing and Deliverance (PHD) ministries member.
Ironically the leader of his new-found church seems not to have kind words for members of the apostolic sect that he recently described as “marine spirits from the dark kingdom”.
And though Madzibaba has been a Christian for the greater part of his life, his fans fear the link with PHD ministries is going to chew much of his time. He now appears to have fewer shows in bars and nightclubs compared to church gigs.
He counters: “I have always been a Christian and do go to church often. However, I have my ways of looking for money that need not to be disturbed by the church in whatever way. We are no different from other people that come to this church yet they have other companies they work for.”
Born in 1956, Zacharia is one of the few surviving first-generation musical voices in the country. He has nurtured a lot of talent in the country with sungura king Alick Macheso being one of the best known.
Zacharia describes Macheso as his best student in his career spanning more than two decades.
“I’m proud of Macheso and believe he will always be top of the people that passed through me. He exhibited characteristics of a victor from the beginning. Each time I taught him something new, he would not sleep until he mastered it and most of the time he got better than me. Often he made suggestions to change some of my compositions after I gave him notes to follow and it would sound even much better,” he explained.
The road to fame for Nicholas Zacharia does not begin with him but rather with Maluva Chekani, Nicholas’ father, who left Malawi in 1947, to settle in Zimbabwe, then Rhodesia. Chekani was a musician and it was because of him that his son became one.
By the age of eight, Zacharia was already proficient with the guitar. And by the age of 14 he had formed his own band, The Green Mangoes. Against this background, he decided not to sit for his ‘O’ Level exams.
As the passion for music grew, Zacharia left his place of birth Mazowe for Harare, initially settling in Dzivaresekwa, where he soon found himself in the company of musicians in the mould of Shepherd Chinyani. Together they formed Vhuka Boys, just before independence.
After that Khiama Boys of the Mabhauwa fame was formed. The group had an assortment of talent namely the late Tineyi Chikupo, Alick Macheso, the late System Tazvida, the late Cephas Karushanga and Donald Gogo.
But the success of Mabhauwa was to split Khiama Boys along the middle, with Karushanga hopping off to form Mabhauwa Express and System with his Chazezesa Challengers. The core group remained with guys like Macheso, Chikupo, Zakaria Zakaria (Madzibaba’s young brother) and Gogo.
This was, however, not for long as the remaining part further split in 1997. And it is then that Zacharia decided to take up driving haulage trucks to raise funds for new instruments.
In 2002, the veteran musician established a new team and has never looked back.
It was in the formative days of Khiama Boys that Nicholas Zacharia was to meet his wife, Margaret Gweshe, who was a dancer within the group. They were to be blessed with two children, Rudo and Simba. Sadly Simba committed suicide in 2008 at the family’s Chiweshe homestead, after battling illness for some time.