The Sunday News
Bruce Ndlovu, Sunday Life Reporter
“SO here is the bigger shocker, and this painful, I have lived with the wrong clan for 40 years. My father’s real name is Abel Khanyi.”
These were the words of a crestfallen Derick Sipho Majaivana when he spoke to Sunday Life last week. Being the offspring of Zimbabwean music royalty is a badge of honour that many Zimbabwean musicians that have inherited their parents’ rich catalogues wear with pride.
For Derick however, that honour may have been decisively ripped from his hands after learning that his real father might not have had a single musical bone in his body. In fact, he knows almost nothing about the man.
“He (Khanyi) is no more. No one knows where he was laid to rest or if ever he had other kids. If they are out there, I want to reach out to them. He was working at the NRZ as a train driver or something. I’m not entirely sure but using this platform I can get answers to my questions,” he said.
Discovering that the man you called your father your whole life is not really your father is painful, more so if that discovery is made after a lifetime. It is even more painful when the father you knew was a central part of your own identity and profession, as the man popularly known as MaGee was to Derrick.
Needless to say, 2019 has not been a kind year for Derrick. He says the first time he had ever come across the suggestion that Lovemore Majaivana is not his father was when he picked up an edition of Sunday Life on 28 April this year.
Back then, Derick was belligerent, insisting that the article was malicious and intended to drive a wedge between him and his father.
This was after a close family friend of the Tshuma family, Majaivana’s real surname, had whispered to this reporter that the veteran musician wanted to cut ties with the 40-year-old whom fans had always known as the heir apparent to the Majaivana throne after the musician’s self imposed exile in North America.
“He (Derick) was a drunkard,” the relative claimed, and MaGee had decided to expose his true parentage in order to prevent him from soiling his name any further.
At the time Derick felt like a victim of media malice. Just over five months later, the musician’s life is in tatters, as he tries to come to terms with his true identity after living what he now calls “a lie” for four decades.
“I called my mother because I was confused about everything that was going on. So she travelled all the way to South Africa to tell me in person what transpired and that’s when I found out the truth.
As a child I never knew anything. I was raised by good loving parents. This is what I thought up until the day that the story came out,” he said.
According to Derick, his parents had never given him any indication that Majaivana was not his father when he was growing up. He however, takes issue with the way that the whole world found out the truth about his parentage.
“I’m the first born and from what I hear my parents were lovers. I don’t know what transpired between them. I have respect for the old man for raising me. I never lacked anything when I was growing up.
Even when I started my musical journey I called him when he was already in the States and he wished me well. So to me if there was an issue to be raised frankly I think a normal, wise person would use the proper channels to address it. This is better than telling the whole world that I’m not his child,” he said.
“A wayward young man without direction,” was what Majaivana reportedly thought about the man who had inherited his name and music catalogue. This is the characterisation that the South Africa-based musician felt was unfair and unjust.
“I’m glad that he came clean. What I don’t agree with is the use of the term “wayward behaviour. What does that even mean?” he said.
He also hit out at suggestions that he was a drunkard, something the relative had said made him a threat to the Majaivana name.
“That’s their take, not mine. Whether I drink or not has got nothing to do with anyone. This is my life and I live it the way that I see fit,” he said.
Although he says his relationship with his mother, who MaGee has another child with, has not changed after the discovery, Derick said he blamed both his parents for conspiring to keep his true identity from him for all these years.
MaGee, he said, had been a very supportive father when he was growing up so he had never had any reason to suspect anything was amiss when he was growing up.
“He knew he was not my father all the time. They’re both to blame for keeping such information from me,” he said.
Despite his protests, Derick is a man that is reeling from this recent discovery. After 40 years, discovering that he is not a biological part of the family that he grew up among has been a harsh blow.
Months after it was delivered, he is still finding it hard to find his feet, even disrupting one thing that is also dear to him — music. He has even had to change his identity on social media.
“My whole life I have been raised as a Tshuma and that is the only family that I have ever known. I got really hurt and I even changed my Facebook name to Ka Bulawayo Derick Sipho. After that revelation friends came forward to help.
They gave me strength and supported me during this traumatising time. I have been well despite everything. The whole drama made me stop plans to release my next album. I had to figure myself out,” he said.
Despite the fact that he had been first disowned by Majaivana before he unearthed his true heritage, Derick said he would not abandon his career and neither would he stop making use of Majaivana classic-laden catalogue and signature sound.
“I will continue doing music because that’s my talent and no one else’s. I thank God for that. I will maintain the same direction in my career.
I will only change my arts name to Ka Bulawayo Derick Sipho,” he said.
The last few months have kick-started a journey of self discovery for Derick and while a large part of his life is shattered, he is also keen to discover his true self. Who was his father? How was he as a man? Does he have any siblings that he does not know of as yet? These are the questions in his mind that need urgent answers.
“If I have sisters and brothers out there I need to know. I really need to find them and even see where my father’s remains are. They kept me living a lie for 40 years. I pray to God I can get over this and move on with my life.”