The Sunday News
Bruce Ndlovu, Sunday Life Correspondent
AFTER the euphoria that gripped Zimbabwe after Chimurenga musician Thomas Mapfumo’s visit, arts doyen Cont Mhlanga has said that self-exiled music star Lovemore Majaivana should not be swayed by those asking him to give a similar performance in the City of Kings, as people in Bulawayo were bound to disappoint him.
Mapfumo’s gig, which saw the Glamis Arena vibrating with the sounds of Mukanya’s famed Chimurenga tunes, reignited hopes that perhaps Bulawayo music’s most famous son could also perhaps return to give Bulawayo a live taste of his own timeless tunes.
However, if Mhlanga was to have it his way, Bulawayo music lovers will have to feast their eyes and ears on grainy YouTube videos and old recordings to satisfy their Majaivana cravings.
Because of their less than stellar reputation of supporting their own, he believes that they are bound to break his heart if he ever decided to listen to the clamours of those that are now saying Bulawayo deserves at least one more dance with the man who was born Lovemore Tshuma before his nimble feet earned him the nickname the Majaivana.
“Majaivana shouldn’t come back. Why did people wait for Mapfumo to come to Zimbabwe before suggesting that Majaivana also comes and perform? If they really wanted him to perform here they should have simply got him here before Mapfumo’s gig was even thought of.
“People forget that when Mapfumo left Zimbabwe he was getting great crowds and support at his gigs. Was Majaivana getting the same in Bulawayo when he left? When he was singing saying no matter how well he sings people don’t see him or write about him in newspapers, where was the support? Have you ever heard Mapfumo complaining of a lack of support?” Mhlanga said in an interview with Sunday Life last week.
Years after he stopped being active on the music scene, Majaivana is still the darling of city music lovers for his ability to capture everyday life in the City of Kings. Songs like Umoya Wami, for example, found Majaivana at his Bulawayo loving best, as he sang about his desire to be once again return to the dust of Bulawayo, taking in the sights and sounds of the city’s smoke filled skies at a time when the city’s industries were still vibrant.
On Mkhwenyana, Majaivana humorously sang about his love for the love of simple township life, as the Makokoba-bred musician came to terms with the financial complications that come with crossing the western and eastern suburb divide that defines the city.
Almost two decades after he turned his back on Bulawayo it is hard to believe that Majaivana is still the same man who sang so passionately about the city in those tunes.
“If Majaivana came back and performed for free at McDonald Hall, he would struggle to fill it up. That’s how bad the problem is with the people of Bulawayo. They don’t support their own and they never have. Instead they claim you then criticise you.
“If I was Majaivana and I was sitting at home there in the United States I would be asking myself why I would return to Bulawayo when Jeys Marabini and Sandra Ndebele can’t get a decent crowd at the City Hall?” said Mhlanga.
Majaivana seemed to have shut the door on any possible return to the world of music in 2009.
“I am not a musician anymore and so I would appreciate it if you would leave me alone. I now live a different life . . . thank you,” he said as he hung up on the then Saturday Trends, effectively shutting the door on any talk of a comeback album.
It is with this in mind that Mhlanga believes that comparisons to Mapfumo are misguided.
“Mapfumo is touring Europe and performing in America. Whenever artistes go to that country Mapfumo features in the gig but have you ever heard Bulawayo artistes looking to work with Majaivana whenever they tour the United States or Canada? That’s when you see that the problem is bigger than Majaivana.
“We’re now living in a global village and if there’s a Majaivana gig in Canada we expect to see bumper crowds because there’re a lot of people from Bulawayo in that country. Let them organise a Majaivana gig there first. Surely if you can organise a successful gig in Canada then logically one in Bulawayo will be similarly successful,” said Mhlanga.
Mapfumo, Mhlanga said, had come because his fans had shown a willingness to bring their icon back home.
“For someone to promote your show it means they’re your fan and are prepared to pay top dollar to see you come perform. Who’s ready to do that for Majaivana in Bulawayo? We can’t listen to people on WhatsApp who we’re not sure will even attend that gig,” said Mhlanga.