Like most Zimbabwean parents, Shelly Savanhu thought her son Mukudzei would become just another loafer on the streets of Harare if he did not take school seriously.
BY SILENCE CHARUMBIRA
His major fall, she was convinced, would be the music path he had chosen.
“Mukudzei was a great singer in church and everyone would look forward to the Sunday service. Whenever he did not attend the turnout would show, that many people loved his singing,” said Savanhu, who is mother to lanky musician Jah Prayzah.
We also had a chance to chat with the musician’s wife Rufaro at his Malbereign home last week.
His elated mother could not help express how relieved she was that her son was riding on a crest of success.
“His father is a retired headmaster and being the last born, everyone expected him to follow suit or at least do well in school. When he came out with three O’Level passes we decided to send him to Kambuzuma High School so he could repeat, but it did not work out as he complained that he was being teased by younger students who nicknamed him ‘Father’ because of his height,” she said.
Jah Prayzah had to correspond and he passed five subjects and qualified for an army course.
Asked if he loved school, Jah Prayzah said: “To be honest, I have read every Shona novel that was published before 2000. My father had a huge sack of novels and I read all of them. He would continue buying and I would still finish them off. While he was reading his James Hadley Chase, I would be reading the closest Shona novel. That explains why I am very good at Shona, so I cannot really say I did not like school.”
To Savanhu, there are three striking characteristics that remain vivid on her son even today.
“He did not like working in the fields. He preferred looking for firewood with a scotch cart, ate a huge portion of sadza and he was so fond of the army. On the contrary, I always felt soldiering was about killing each other and I did not want my baby to experience any of that. I was disappointed to see his joy when he came to show me the acceptance letter,” she said.
“When I came to Budiriro in 2004, I was shocked to see the small plate in which he was served his food in. I felt they were starving my son, but he had changed.”
Jah Prayzah’s biggest fan however, has to be his wife Rufaro.
Though barely known to the public, she says she is so fond of her husband’s music that she attends almost all of his shows.
And the two have something in common, Rufaro too loves reading.
“I like reading Mills and Boons,” says Rufaro before her husband interjects: “And playing Zuma! Sometimes after gigs I hardly sleep while she makes noise with the game,” he said, inviting a menacing look from his wife.
A heavily pregnant Rufaro says she is content with preparing her husband’s sadza and beef and boasts of taking good care of him.
Jah Prayzah has risen to the top of Zimbabwean music producing a number of hits in a professional career that is just two years old.
As proof of his exploits, the singer now owns a house in Chitungwiza’s Unit J from where he recently moved to a more spacious lodging in Malbereign.
He also owns another residential stand in Whitecliff and has changed several expensive cars that ranged from BMWs to Mercedes Benz.