National hero Tuku’s 1978 wailing ‘Ndipeiwo Zano’

Lovemore Chikova 

Assistant Editor

Today is Heroes Day, and it is time to reflect on the exploits of the national heroes and all other heroes who fought selflessly to bring independence and freedom.

The heroes fought in various ways, and some did so through music — the subject of this article. After trying his hand at singles such as “Stop After Orange” and “Dzandimomotera”, iconic musician and national hero Oliver Mtukudzi decided to have a go at an album in 1978.

“Ndipeiwo Zano” album, with a song to that name, became Tuku’s first album.

1978 was at the height of the liberation war, with many youths of those days flocking out of the country to join the liberation struggle.

The Rhodesian racist regime knew it was being cornered, and as a result was tightening its oppressive system to add more suffering on the people.

“Ndipeiwo Zano” album aptly captured this scenario, where locals were now enduring more suffering from the white racist policies.

On all the songs on the album, one can sense the depiction of a people under a yoke and attempting to free themselves from such oppression.

Taking it up from “Dzandimomotera”, which was about someone living in abject poverty and rejecting the suffering — (nhamo dzandimomotera, ini handidi nhamo), Tuku went further with the message on “Ndipeiwo Zano”.  The album’s general effect was to stir the spirit of fighting among the people.

This article will have a look at some of the tracks on “Ndipeiwo Zano” and the message they conveyed.

“Ndipeiwo Zano”

This was the title track on Tuku’s first solo album. The song became a revolutionary anthem as it correctly captured the situation Zimbabweans were facing at that time.

“Ndipeiwo Zano” was a cry from a troubled soul — a person who finds themselves in an untenable situation and crying out for a way out. It was a song that alerted the people that actually, fighting against the white oppression was an option out of this suffering.

The song starts with Tuku talking to himself, capturing the suffering and its effects — “Ah nhamo yangu ini vakomana imi, haaa kana chokubata hapana”

Then it goes: 

Ndatadza kushiringinya

Ndiri pamakumbo pa amai

Kushaya mufaro ndakatsika rukuvhute rwasekuru vangu

Ndoita ripi zano, nhai vakomana kani

Chandakatadza chiiko nhai Mwari

Chandinotadza ndachishaya vakomana ndashupika

Ndoita ripi zano kuti ndiwane rugare ini

Ndingaite ripi zano varume ndiwane rugare ini

In the song “Chipatapata” Mtukudzi chronicled how people were suffering under the Smith regime and was asking for help from God.

The song is also about seeking guidance in the way the people had chosen to free themselves — “Titungimire Mwari, tanetseka, Titungamire baba wangu tashupika” 

And he goes on — “Chinovanetsa ava Mwari wee unochiziva”, a cry to God to help end the suffering since he knew the cause of that suffering among the people.

The song went: 

Vana venyu ava Mwari iwe, vanetseka ava

Vana venyu ava Mwari wangu, vashupika 

Chinonetsa ava Mwari wee, unochiziva 

Unozviziva iwe Mwari tinonetsa isu 

Chipatapata iwe Mwari iwe mukushora 

Chipatapata iwe Mwari iwe mukunetsa 

Titungamirire Mwari, tanetseka iwe 

Titungamire baba wangu, tashupika isu

In “Tibvumbamirei” Mtukudzi was interceding on behalf of the people in light of the tough and oppressive laws that were being enacted by the colonial regime.

He asks God to help make people bold in their fight against the oppressive regime. 

Mtukudzi also says in the song — “Vana vako vapera pasi pano” — a statement that mourns over how people were being killed by the Smith regime in their resistance to colonial rule.

The song goes:  

Tokutenda mambo 

Dai watizorodza Mwari wee 

Vana wako vapera pasi pano 

Uyai mutibatsire pasi pano 

Dai matishingisa tenzi we 

Chido chenyu Mwari we, chashaya mugoni

Mitemo iya baba we yanyanya utsinye 

  On “Uyai Mundione”, Mtukudzi was indirectly praising the exploits of liberation war fighters, inviting people to marvel at how they were expertly executing the war. 

In the song, Mtukudzi uses his own image as a singer to depict the liberation war fighters in the bush.

He, as the singer becomes the liberation war fighter, while the stage is the bush, he then invites his mother — the masses — to come and witness the exploits.

The song went:

Ndoshereketa amai mudariro amai, huyai mundione

Amai pupurudzai wani 

Ndotamba bhamujaivhi mudariro amai huyai mundione

Amai, mwana wenyu ishasha, shasha chaiyo

Ndoshaina amai mudariro amai uyai mundione

The other song on the album “Nherera” points out the oppressive nature of the colonial regime that had resulted in parents dying and leaving children as orphans.

The orphans were also a result of some who died in the liberation war.

In the song, Mtukudzi bemoans the suffering of such orphans, whose plight was a result of the cruelty of the Smith regime.

The words of the song are: 

Pasi pano apa Mwari we, panyanya utsinye 

Wakatipawo nherera, inochemwa naniko

Pakufa kwenherera inochemwa naniko

Vanosvipa vachiisema ava ichachemwa naniko

Vanotuka vachiivenga awa ichachemwa naniko

 “Mai Maondeiko” is about someone very troubled, to the extent that even having enough food and drinks could not prevent being frail.

The person is not even sick but still, there is no improvement in their well-being.

The song shows how cruel the Smith regime was to the extent that people’s health had been affected by the oppressive laws even if they were not physically ill.

Then it also turns out that one of the causes of the frailty was thinking about a beloved one.

In this metaphor, Mtukudzi depicts a woman who becomes frail because they are troubled in mind thinking about their loved one, who had joined the liberation struggle. 

The song:

Chii kuonda uko (ndaondera mudiwa)

Amai maondeiko (ndaondera mudiwa)

Sadza munodya munodya chaizvoizvo asikuonda iwe 

Doro muchimwa muchimwa chaizvoizvo asikuonda uko 

Kurwara hamurware

Eh amai maondeiko  

Kugaya hamugaye

 On “Ndiri Bofu” Mtukudzi was imploring God to lead and guide the people through the war, since they were limited as humans.

He also bemoans the suffering which people were enduring under the colonial regime.    

He sang: 

Amai ndiri bofu ini mune rino pasi 

Chinditungamirirawo iwe Jehovah 

Vakafa vakazorora mambo mune rino pasi 

Ah vakomana tayaura 

Umm varumewe tashupika 

Titungamirire, titungamirire Jehovah

 “Gunguwo” was a song chiding Bishop Abel Muzorewa for failing to be consistent in his approach to politics.

In fact, Muzorewa’s nickname was Gunguwo (Crow), which emanated from the white collar he put on, which depicted the white feathers on the crow’s neck.

In the song, Mtukudzi was pointing out that Muzorewa was inconsistent and was surviving through alliances that did not advance the cause of the liberation. Muzorewa was famous for forging an alliance with the Smith regime, which ended in the formation of Zimbabwe-Rhodesia which he led as prime minister.

The liberation war did not stop even after the country got this new name.  

The lyrics are: 

Gunguwo rakapona negwakumukwaku vakomana imi

Gunguwo rakapona nekuparapara vasikana imi

Nhasi ndiwe unedura hupenyu hwako huripapi

Nhasi ndiwe wanokohwa hupenyu hwako uripapi

Fenenga iwe fenenga

In “Ziwere”, Mtukudzi bemoaned the  army conscription which was being practiced by the Rhodesian regime which forced young people to fight against their kith and kin in the liberation struggle.

“Ndiani watora mwana wangu? Kutora mwana ndiripo vakomana imi” (who has taken away my child in my presence) sang Mtukudzi.

He also points out that homes were being destroyed by the Smith regime, and this was the case when the Rhodesian army suspected that someone from a particular homestead had joined the liberation war or when they suspected the home of hosting liberation war fighters.

Then he adds: “Ndoite muramba mhuru, ndakananga kwamutenhesanwa” (I am running off into the bush). This was as a result of everything having been destroyed by the Smith regime when people were left with no choice expect to run away and join the liberation struggle.

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