Godwin Muzari Arts Editor
They worked together on and off the screen, on and off the stage and their relationship was sometimes cat-and-mouse style. Chibhodhoro and Mukadota had their fun moments whenever they did their acts and the former has sweet and sour memories of the late great comedian.
As he went down memory lane last week, Chibhodhoro — born John Muyambo — recalled some of the moments he shared with Safirio “Mukadota” Madzikatire. He said the man was talented, but he at times was ruthless with his subordinates and he had a way of making his things happen when people least expected it. His narration was in flashback style, beginning with how his relationship with Mukadota ended.
“I left Mukadota’s band through the window. I literally jumped out of a venue through a window just before a show,” said Chibhodhoro humorously. “We were at a show at Nyamutamba hotel and someone had told me about a house that was being sold in the area and I wanted to get a loan from the boss.
“I approached him before the show at backstage and told him about my plan. His response was ‘are you mad?’ and I did not understand it. I was so upset because we had our ups and downs together and I thought he would understand me.
“It was so disheartening because the money I wanted was not much since the seller had a good payment plan. The way he responded was so rude and I did not tell him that I was leaving the band. I just jumped out through the window and went away for good. That was how we separated forever until his death.”
This was the end of a relationship that had its ups and downs. In fact, it was not the first time for Chibhodhoro to leave Mukadota. He had done so with the whole Ocean City Band previously after a misunderstanding over remuneration.
“He had a clever way of treating his band members. He would call us individually when we got our wages and made everyone believe they were getting more than the other members. He would tell me that I was the best and I was getting the best, so I should not tell anyone how much I earned. As we sat with Katarina one day we discussed the issue and later decided to talk to everyone. We realised that we were all getting peanuts and we approached him as we were at a rehearsal at Cyril Jennings hall.
“He was not amused by the move and told us to go to hell. He said we were free to leave if we were not happy and we all left. He said the brand was Mukadota, not the band.” Chibhodhoro said after the acrimonious split, they continued using the name Ocean City Band and Mukadota went to complain to National Arts Council of Zimbabwe.
“He could not stop us and we found a base in Bulawayo and relocated. After a few months, we met Oliver Mtukudzi and his manager Jack Sadza who had also been deserted by their band when they wanted to record in South Africa.
“They hired us and we went to do an album together. We were met at the airport in South Africa by Steve Kekana who had a good relationship with Jack then. I was later told that the relationship started when Kekana was duped by a Harare promoter when he came to perform here and was left stranded. Jack came to his rescue and they became friends.”
After recording an album with Mtukudzi, Ocean City Band continued to perform in Bulawayo and Mukadota visited the city for a show and met Chibhodhoro at a hotel.
“He said people had been asking about my whereabouts everywhere he performed and he wanted me back in his group. We talked and agreed on the terms and I rejoined him. We worked together for more years before the Nyamutamba Hotel incident that sealed our separation for good.”
Chibhodhoro praised Mukadota for his talent in music and acting and says he learnt a lot from the musician.
“He was talented and he had a unique way of doing things. He wanted everyone in the band to also take part in his dramas. We loved the way he created scenes when we were rehearsing. We did not need a serious storyline. He just gave us guidelines and everything flowed. Besides being strict, he was also a hilarious character in real life.
“He enjoyed gambling and would always joke about how he sometimes lost huge sums of money to gambling. We always laughed about it together.” Chibhodhoro’s music career began in Mutare when he played traditional drums for some choirs in the city. He moved to Masvingo where he briefly performed with a group that did Western copyrights before coming to Harare.
He had sessions with Harare Mambos until he got recognition and became known as the ‘short good drummer’ who at times had to negotiate his way into pubs because of his height that made him look young.
He worked with various groups before Mukadota hired him. After separation with Mukadota, he joined Real Sounds of Africa and his dream of owning a house came true.
“My wife was bitter when I left Mukadota’s group because things became tough. One day I had gone to meet friends at Queens Hotel when a guy from Real Sounds of Africa approached me and said they were looking for a drummer.
“They had a tour of UK and I was lucky to be part of the tour a few weeks after joining the band. We made a lot of money during the tour and I was able to build my seven-roomed house.”
Chibhodhoro built the house in Budiriro 1 where he currently stays. He later joined Tanga WekwaSando and they have been working together for many years. Chibhodhoro is one of key members of Tanga’s group and he is still energetic.