Of Chimbetu lawsuit, Macheso flop and rise of Dhewa

Godwin Muzari Memory Lane
From 2000, there was stiff competition among local music promoters. Sungura music was at its peak and most show organisers jostled to sign musicians for gigs where rich pickings were definite.

Tongai Moyo and Alick Macheso were the major drawcards of the genre. Their personal rivalry and music contest made the industry lively. For years, names like Simon Chimbetu, Leonard Zhakata and Pengaudzoke also had their fair share of the sungura cake.

Promoters crossed swords in the sungura terrain where Macheso and Moyo were the money-makers. The promoters included Ghetto Fabulous fronted by Chris Musabayana, Barbara Chikosi’s Red Rose Entertainment, Frontran Promotions (Notice Chigome), Partson Chimbodza’s Chipaz Promotions, Lashers Promotions run by Lashton Chitoro and Karen “Mai Jojo” Madhake’s Venus Promotions.

While the promoters jostled for popular musicians in the capital, one company had fun in the sun in Bulawayo.

Mo-Tainment, led by lawyer Panganai Hare was that company. Although there were some promoters in Bulawayo, Hare became the godfather of sungura promotions in the City of Kings.

Musicians like Macheso, Moyo, Chimbetu, Pengaudzoke, Cephas Mashakada and Hosiah Chipanga made Hare their promoter of choice in Bulawayo. He also invaded Gweru and became the big promoter in the two cities.

Memory Lane had a chat with Hare this week and he recalled some of his Bulawayo experiences with popular musicians.

He relocated to Harare where he is the company secretary of an agro-based organisation.

“Those years were fantastic. I worked with various musicians and we made a big name in Bulawayo. Most musicians that came from Harare wanted to work with me because of the brand that we created. There were other promoters in Bulawayo, but Mo-Tainment was the best,” said Hare.

He said he got into music promotions by mistake, but enjoyed the trade more than anything else in his life. Hare says he got into music promotions after he had successfully represented Simon Chimbetu in a case in which he was being sued by a Bulawayo promoter for failing to turn up for a show.

He became friends with Chimbetu and the musician asked for assistance in organising Bulawayo shows. That is how Hare became a promoter. In a chat with Memory Lane, he recalled how he worked and related with various musicians as a promoter.

Alick Macheso

“I was friends with Erick Knight who was a presenter for Radio 2 now called Radio Zimbabwe and he introduced me to Macheso. That was in 1999 just after the release of his album ‘Vakiridzo’.

“He had just made a few hits and we believed he would make it. Eric had told me how popular his songs were becoming. We organised a show at Large City Hall. We made a big mistake because he was not known in Bulawayo.

“The show was a massive flop and we incurred huge losses. However, as I observed Macheso performing, I noticed that he had great talent. He played some songs that had not been released and I liked them. I knew he would make it. We talked after the show and we became friends,” said Hare.

As Macheso continued to penetrate the market, he started pulling huge crowds to his shows. He made several trips to Bulawayo. The shows grew until Large City Hall — the same hall where he had had a massive flop- became too small for his gigs.

“We had many successful shows with Macheso when he became popular. We had to move his shows to ZITF hall where he pulled historic crowds. We also had gigs with him in Gweru at Educare Hall, which was always packed when he performed.

“Our friendship also grew and up to now, we visit each other and talk about the sweet memories from our shows. We also laugh about the huge flop that we had when he first travelled to Bulawayo.”

Simon Chimbetu

“I successfully represented Chopper when he was taken to court by a promoter for breach of contract. He was happy and we became close. When he returned to Bulawayo for more shows, he contacted me and asked for assistance in organising the tour,” Hare recalled.

Assisting Chimbetu was the beginning of Hare’s music promotions journey.

“It was in 1999 and his album Lullaby was making waves. The show was held at Green Haven and it was sold out. That is when I realised that music promotion could be a lucrative business. We started doing more shows with Chopper. We held one of our biggest shows at Amazulu Stadium in 2000 and the venue was packed. For years to come, Chopper made Bulawayo the city for his New Year’s Eve shows. Every December 31, he would perform in Bulawayo.”

When Chopper died, Hare had a few shows with Allan and Suluman Chimbetu as he sought to keep the dendera legacy alive in the City of Kings.

Tongai Moyo

“Dhewa was one of the most popular musicians who pulled crowds when he came to Bulawayo. The most exciting days were those when they had a rivalry with Macheso. Those guys would really work hard to outclass each other and that competition made their shows exciting,” said Hare.

“Dhewa approached me after realising how I was working with Macheso. He said he also wanted to work with me. Ironically, at our first show he had to share the stage with Macheso. Their conflict had not started then. They were good friends. Dhewa was a supporting act at that show and he showed great potential.

“However, the first time we tried to do his solo show, we had a disaster. We did the show at Bulawayo Polytechnic and it was a flop. His time came when he released “Naye”. He started getting good numbers at shows and we had good gigs.”

As Dhewa’s popularity grew, he held shows with Hare in Gweru, Zvishavane, Beitbridge and Victoria Falls.

Beatar Mangethe

Although they were staying in the same city, Hare did not know about Beatar Mangethe because he was new to showbiz.

“Dhewa told me about Beatar. He said there was a talented upcoming female singer in Bulawayo and he wanted me to meet her so that we could promote her. One day after a show at Emnandini, we went to Makokoba to look for her,” Hare recalled.

“Dhewa introduced me to the singer and she gave me her music to listen to. One track titled ‘Dali’ caught my attention and I felt it would be good to also have Shona lyrics on it. I called Macheso and told him about my idea.”

Macheso accepted Hare’s proposal and that led to his collaboration with Beatar of “Dali”. Several shows featuring Macheso and Beatar were organised. Hare supported Beatar in numerous other projects. Rumours of an affair between Hare and Beatar circulated in Bulawayo, but Hare says people created stories to tarnish his image because of the big brand that he had built.

Hare worked with many other musicians and also promoted Koffi Olomide when he performed in Bulawayo and Victoria Falls. He once got a chance to host Oliver Mtukudzi for a highly successful show in Bulawayo following an agreement with Metcalfe.

Although he has shelved music promotions due to a tight schedule, Hare seems to be in showbiz for good.

In fact, he has moved deeper into the art. He is now a musician and released his debut album titled “Mbuva yeHwiza” recently. The album is doing well with the song “Panganayi” proving to be popular. The song was on number one on Radio Zimbabwe Top 20 last week.

The album will be launched soon.

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