Pengaudzoke – Thrilling script with a sad ending

18 Jan, 2015 - 00:01 0 Views
Pengaudzoke – Thrilling script with a sad ending Now . . . In his backyard workshop

The Sunday Mail

Then . . . Josphat Somanje  showing off some of his music awards

Then . . . Josphat Somanje showing off some of his music awards

Gilbert Munetsi

Partnerships, unions, associations and relationships built on humble beginnings and hard times are usually known to enjoy the benefit of a firm foundation and – more often than not – they withstand the test of time.

A millionaire, whose background can be traced back to the poorhouse, will treasure most that first mini cooper he bought with his first pay cheque, and hold it closer to his heart than all the brand new models from his current pool of expensive cars in the garage.

It is the vivid memories of the hunger, the sacrifice, the trials and the tribulations that hold together the attachment, such that only death is able to break this owner-property bond built on blood, sweat and tears.

Unique and very sad indeed, is the story of the Somanje brothers — Josphat and Daiton — which not only baffles the mind but leaves anyone who dares to make sense out of it regretting why such God-given talent can be condemned to waste at the blink of an eye.

The simple reason, as may be deduced from a probe, is that none of the two protagonist brothers cast in the life play is willing to swallow their pride for the sake of the breast that fed them milk and for the sake of their careers.

But, doesn’t the saying go, “Blood is thicker than water?”

This is how their tale started: When Josphat, Daiton and a few other young boys from the hood at a farm in Beatrice set out (on foot) to try their luck with the then only recording firm, Gramma Records in industrial Southerton, they almost lost their lives on that trip.

Now . . . In his backyard workshop

Now . . . In his backyard workshop

“On the way back home, we found the River Nyatsime flooded, but because we had nowhere else to go for the night, we had no option but to cross.

“So each one of us removed his clothes, tied them to his head and we waded into the raging waters. Getting to the middle of the river, we found the waters running deep such that some of us almost got swept away.

“Thank God, we all managed to get to the other side of the river bank, some without their clothes,” recalls Josphat in an interview.

Then, the name Pengaudzoke was known mainly by the members of the group, but that was until a Chitungwiza-based promoter hired them for a show in Domboshawa.

“After our performance, we were told that we were actually in arrears such that there was no money to pay for our transport back to Chitungwiza.

“We pleaded with the vehicle owner who later grudgingly agreed to leave us in the city in the early hours of the following day.

“That also happened to be the day we were booked for a recording and we knew if we lost that opportunity, we would live to regret it for life.

“So we made a beeline on foot from St Mary’s via the new road right up to Southerton, with just enough coins to buy half a loaf of bread for the eight of us.

“Each time I recall that incident, I feel like crying,” says the Somanje brother close to tears.

Well, all that was before the approximately 28 albums they went on to record as Pengaudzoke, each one with a Number One hit on the charts.

These include songs like “Kwatakabva Kure Nenhamo”, “Munofamba Muchinditaura”, “Seiko Kuonda”, “Titonganisei”, “Zvibate Pamhaka”, “Arindine”, “Ndinomuda Chete” and “Tsaona”.

It was also before the awards that came with substantial amounts of prize money and the royalties from the sale of their works at a time when piracy was an unknown scourge.

Yes, it was before that memorable show at Sakubva Stadium in 1989 where they curtain-raised for Oliver Mtukudzi as he recorded live, the hit song “Mbombera”.

“To say that things suddenly began to move for us would be an understatement.

“It was like we were engrossed deep in slumber, enjoying a long, sweet dream from which one does not know when they will wake up.

“Heaven’s doors had finally opened up for us,” Josphat reminisces, lost in thought.

Surely who, with a good ear for music, could afford to ignore that laid back indigenous beat with a sungura lilt to it that is not shy to expose the poverty-stricken background of the composers.

Farm residents embraced it because it identified with most of them. At parties the DJs played the music and most of the songs became anthems.

Then tragedy came soon after the release of “Tsaona”, the misunderstanding that brought with it the demise of one of the best local musical ensembles ever to come out of Zimbabwe.

The two brothers opted to part ways and life has never been the same again for either of them.

And yet, despite the spirited efforts by relatives, friends and respected personalities in the music industry, Josphat is adamant that a permanent reunion is definitely out of question:

“The chances of that (reunion) happening are almost non-existent. Patinogara tichiedza kugadzirisa matambudziko edu, tinoona kuti marongedzero atinoita maproblems edu, tiri kutadza kuita tackle the main issues.

“We ended up resolving that when the demand wants me and him, we just come together and satisfy that demand and that’s it.

Akawana basa rinonzi riri kudiwa Pengaudzoke iine maridziro angu ini, he’s free to say, ‘babamudiki, ndawana basa riri kuda ini newe tiri pamwe chete, uye rinotiwanisa zvakadai, ngatiitei.’

“We can do it,” said Josphat.

The younger of the Somanje brothers added: “Even when it comes to recording and I feel like I need Daiton’s voice, I can ring him up and he comes to add it.

“We are no longer listening to people who say they are capable of solving the so-called problem; we are not looking at our differences.

“We’re looking at what we can get when we perform. We want to listen to benefits.”

The last time the two performed together was on Christmas Day in the just-ended year at an entertainment joint in Karoi.

To supplement his meagre income from live shows that no longer come as often as the days gone by, Josphat runs a backyard workshop from which he repairs electrical gadgets that include radios, television sets, DVDs, amplifiers, stoves, irons and other electrical home appliances.

“It trades as Josphat’s Diplomatic Electronics Engineering.

“I urge people from my neighbourhood and beyond to keep me busy in this line of work,” he says in self-advertising fashion.

In his solo career, Josphat has recorded about 12 albums, with one of them, This Time, scooping national awards for Song and Video of the Year.

He pays tribute to superstar Oliver Mtukudzi, Ray Makahamadze and a Mr Ralph at Gramma for “lifting us from the mud and placing us on solid ground”.

When this writer bade him farewell after the long interview, Josphat saw the news crew to the gate of his Cherutombo, Marondera, modest property that has somewhat saved him from destitution.

And as he turned to go back, he cut the figure of a slim giant who once kept tens of thousands of Zimbabweans on their feet on dance floors across the country.

It’s a typical tragedy in a thriller life movie that glaringly lacks a denouement.

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