Zvamaida Murwira-Senior Arts Reporter
It is yet to be established if celebrated Sungura godfather, Nicholas “Senior Lecturer” Zakaria’s new album “Musabvunda” will rise to the yesteryear level in which the decorated artiste was a household name.
The impact of his split with Alick Macheso around 1998 was never felt nor regretted in that both pursued successful solo projects were they became forces to reckon with in their own right.
Both of them enjoyed a huge following as they released hit after hit as they were some of the dominant figures in the sungura genre.
Albums such as “Yeuchidzo” with hit trek “Zomvelamvela” in 1998, “Ramangwana” of 2002 followed by “Munongedzo” which had the much talked about “Mazano” in 2003 transformed Madzibaba into one of the godfathers of sungura.
One would not throw a party without playing “Mazano”, renowned for its reverberating bassline by talented Nasho Azati.
There was also another album “Mbuva Yeupenyu” in 2006 with trek “Tsamba” followed by “Simbiso” with first trek “Ida Anokuda” that sent fancy footed dancers on the dance floor.
This is one reason that has created anxiety on whether or not the new album “Musabvunda” would be able to see Zakaria rediscovering himself.
Over the past recent years, Zakaria’s albums have not risen to the level which he has been renowned for.
They include “Zadziso” in 2020 “Takakomborerwa” released in 2017 and “Inzwa Unzwe” in 2019.
The scintillating bassline which in some instances would be left to be strummed alone appear to be no longer the case.
One temptation might be to say the emergence of the Zimdancehall genre might have taken a toll on his music as fans and promoters alike could have set their sight on the new genre.
That argument might sound preposterous given that other sungura and non-Zimdancehall artistes such as Macheso and Jah Prayzah still draw huge crowds at their shows.
Others have argued that Madzibaba has done everything to produce a good product, but luck could have just deserted him.
There are others who feel that he considers re-engaging celebrated guitarists such as Nasho and others to blend with his youthful guitarists.
On Saturday evening, Zakaria launched “Musabvunda” at a colourful ceremony in the capital.
It was a double celebration for “Madzibaba” as he simultaneously launched his 29th album while celebrating his 66th birthday.
That he was launching his 29th album in a career spanning for 47 years speaks volume of the road he has travelled and testify about the huge and unparalleled experience he has which upcoming musicians can draw from.
It was, however, quite disappointing to note that very few musicians attended the event to support their colleague and mentor.
Of course, one would want to forgive them as the expectation would be that they were equally holding shows at different venues as they try to capitalise and make up for lost time and lost fortunes owing to the Covid-19 induced national lockdown that saw music shows being banned for a long period.
A close listen of the new album shows that “Madzibaba” did not deviate from his trademark superb guitar-work and arrangement.
Traditionally, his music is characterised by both rich social and gospel commentaries and teachings where he provides solemn biblical teachings in the most entertaining way through well arranged sungura beat.
On the new album, “Musabvunda,” he continued to blend the sungura beat with gospel teachings.
There is even some rhumba-like beat fused in the song “NdiJesu.”
On the song “Mabasa” it is the sub-rhythm that was strummed by Madzibaba which most fans might find enjoyable.
On “Pasi Rachema” from which the title album “Musabvunda” is drawn, Zakaria summons all his music composing skills to reflect on the multiple challenges of Covid-19, HIV, road carnages claiming lives of people and implored people to remain strong and believe in God.
“Alamu” was sang in Chewa, but the language will not be a barrier for people to enjoy it.
“Pedyo naMwari” is rich in lyrics and a powerful message, but many might find it with little entertainment value.
One flaw on the album is what appears as some apparent similarities in guitar-works with other previous productions, but other people might view it as significant in shaking their memory.
In the end, the album provides revellers with something to smile upon at a time people are coming out of tightened national lockdown due to Covid-19.