Veteran musician, songwriter and religious preacher Zexie Manatsa, has been accorded a State-assisted funeral, with Acting President Constantino Chiwenga hailing his contribution to the country’s liberation struggle and eventual victory over the colonial regime.
In a condolence message yesterday, Acting President Chiwenga said through his music, the iconic musician — who succumbed to multiple myeloma cancer on Thursday aged 78 — inspired a generation of the country’s liberators.
“Zex remains an iconic figure in the music industry whose music career dates back to the colonial days, peaking at the height of our armed liberation struggle. He contributed immensely to the struggle for our country’s independence through satirical, poetic compositions.
“Songs such as ‘Baba Tipeiwo Ndege,’ ‘Musango Mune Hangaiwa’, ‘Ndarota Ndina Mai’, among others immediately come to mind,” reminisced Acting President Chiwenga.
He said what set Manatsa apart was that his politically nuanced songs were composed at a time when the Rhodesian settler regime was committing horrendous atrocities against locals to preserve and perpetuate its minority rule, something that could have deterred many artistes.
Undeterred, Zexie used his musical talent and composition skills to revolutionary effect as he deployed different music styles such as township music, Jiti, Simanje Manje and gospel to articulate national issues of the day.
“The name Zexie Manatsa occupies pride of space in the annals of our national music industry and will always be remembered for his generosity of heart and givenness to mentorship and support of aspiring young musicians, including many successful top Zimbabwean musicians we have today.
“His songs were always pregnant with messages aimed at inspiring others to focus on the greater good for our society and our great country.
“Similarly, he was averse to both political and religious prostitution and encouraged our people to be patriotic and morally upright,” said Acting President Chiwenga.
Because of his stardom, Zexie was part of a group of local musicians who played alongside the late legendary reggae artiste, Bob Marley, at Rufaro Stadium, at the dawn of the country’s independence in 1980 when the country’s flag was hoisted replacing the Union Jack.
“On behalf of His Excellency the President, Dr E D Mnangagwa, our Nation, the arts industry, and my own behalf, I wish to express my heartfelt condolences to the Manatsa family, especially to his wife and children who have lost a beloved husband, father and mentor.
“May they derive comfort from the knowledge that the nation shares deeply their great loss, which is our loss together.”
National Arts Council of Zimbabwe (NACZ) director Nicholas Moyo who announced the according of the State assisted funeral at the family home in Sentosa, Mabelreign, Harare said: “I have come here representing the Government.
“We spoke yesterday with Tendai Manatsa who confirmed the death of his father and I hurriedly got in touch with the Ministry of Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation to discuss the issue. I was given the answer that the veteran musician be awarded a State assisted funeral,” he said.
“It means that we will be working together on any of the funeral arrangements to be made. We do not dictate burial plans but we fit into your plans, whether you say (burial is on) Sunday, Monday or Tuesday, we work according to what you decide,” he said.
Mr Moyo said that he lived a full life and did his part for the music industry. His illustrious history in music spoke volumes of what he believed in and what he desired the industry to be like.
“He was one artiste who would always encourage other artistes to take music as a serious profession which could sustain livelihoods. We will cherish his lessons,” said Moyo.
Family spokesperson Cliff Chafausipo said Manatsa will be buried tomorrow afternoon at Warren Hills Cemetery in the capital.
“The body will lie in state today and he will be buried this Sunday. We are waiting for other relatives who are coming from South Africa and the rural areas.
“We are happy the other family members from United Kingdom have arrived. The funeral is being held under Covid-19 regulations and restrictions and we encourage mourners to respect that,” he said.
Mr Chafausipo said Manatsa was a pillar of strength in the family which he united with his kind heart with other musicians coming for advice and assistance.
“He was not shy to say the truth on what he liked and disliked. I can say he was a man of the people even at church. He loved praying so much,” he said.