Godwin Muzari Lifestyle Editor
Leonard Dembo was a star whose expertise was far ahead of his contemporaries. His music still rules. The top 40 charts that most radio stations presented during the country’s 40th independence celebrations proved that “Chitekete” is still the best song after 1980.
Dembo was a great musician. He played his part with proficiency and many people still remember him for his greatness.
But the musician led a secretive lifestyle and many do not know much about his other side. He preferred to keep most issues about his life private. His band members and other stakeholders in the music industry did not know much about his life.
In separate interviews this week, some of the people that worked and lived with Dembo shared their experiences about the musician’s lifestyle.
Tendai Dembo (son)
“My father kept his family life away from the public and he was good at separating his private life from his profession.
“He was a good family man who wanted to see us happy every time. I was still young when I interacted with him, but I learnt many things from how he handled the family issues.
“He was a member of the Anglican church and every time he was not away for shows, he would take us to church. We went with him to church when we stayed in Chitungwiza and even when we moved to Belvedere.
“However, he was also traditional and he respected his roots and cultural beliefs. He took us to his rural home many times to make us understand more about our culture.
“He wanted his family to be happy. He would buy goodies every time he came home from tours and we expectantly waited for his return when he was away. Most of our relatives enjoyed visiting us because my father was a courteous man.
“He told us that we should treat his brothers as our real fathers. I was young, but I now understand the importance of his approach. Family should always come first in whatever we do.”
Eunice Dembo (widow)
“I do not want to say much about Leonard at the moment because there have been misleading stories about his life. All I can say is that he was a loving husband. He loved his family and his music. He loved his son Morgan so much that he composed the song “Vana Vanemazita” to show his displeasure when I had thoroughly beaten the child after mischief. I will say a lot in the near future to correct all misconceptions about Leonard’s life.”
Sukai Pasipadonya / Gogo Dembo (mother)
“My son loved me so much. He loved his family, but he had his principles about relating to other people. He did not want people to take advantage of his shy character. He wanted people that respected his beliefs and decisions.
“He would visit me almost every week and he bought groceries and food for me. I always had new clothes and enough food on my table. Other women in my neighbourhood envied me because of the way Leonard spoiled me.
“When he did live shows close to our home, he would come and take me to the gigs. He would introduce me on stage and showered praises on me. He did not want me to work and would always hire people that helped me with household chores and field work”.
Pastor Charles Charamba (fellow musician)
“I met the late Dembo for the first time at Chitungwiza Town Centre about four years after its opening. I grew up fascinated by how organised his musical works were. He stayed in Seke Unit A while I resided in Unit M.
“Seeing him physically for the first time was something exciting. I realised the man was slim, tall and developing a bald head. I was used to seeing a picture of him putting on a hat on most album sleeves, but when I met him he had no hat.
“I met him more often the following years. He liked to put on smartly ironed shirts and would, in most cases, be having the collar straightened up. He kept upper buttons of his shirts open with a neck chain showing on his chest. It was a principle for his shirts to be tightly tucked in.
“I never saw him with formal shoes. He would be spotting trainers, mostly of the Adidas label
“He was always by himself each time I met him. We once met when he was buying two LPs (music albums) one of which was a rhumba clollection from DRC, and the other one from PVP, a South African group that carried the popular song ‘Tell me Why’. I asked him ‘So you also buy other musicians’ songs?’ and he simple said: ‘Ehe tinotenga’ and proceeded with his business.
“He was naturally a ‘short-answer’ type of person though I would not want to claim to have known him absolutely. In one of the instances I asked him why he did not shoot videos and he laughed it off with no clear answer.
“During some of his local concerts in Chitungwiza, he would take with him his family. I would not attend those shows that were held in bars due to my religious principles but I admired the fact that he really wanted his son Morgan to be closer during such moments.”
Innocent Mjintu (band member)
“I joined Dembo when some guys who used to work with him had deserted him. He was a man of few words, but he was accommodative. If you did well, he appreciated but he did not tolerate laziness. He was strict.
“When we got into the studio, he wanted everything to be done according to his word.
“He was happy when we did well. However, he had a problem with fellow musicians that said bad things behind his back and that is why he was sometimes at loggerheads with some of his fellow musicians.
“When he was at home, he enjoyed relaxing with friends and having a time with his guitar. You had to be close to him to gain his trust and share more time and words with him.”
Bothwell Nyamhondera (producer)
“The man loved his work and he came to the studio well prepared for his work. However, he was short-tempered and would openly show his displeasure at anyone who seemed to disturb his work.
“Sometimes he would come to the studio ready to record, but he would quit a session midway if anyone angered him.
“He was so secretive and did not want to share his private life with workmates. I used to have personal relations with other musicians outside the studio, but Dembo kept our relationship professional.
“He only talked about music and nothing else. He was not interested in other people’s lives and he kept his life away from the public.
“He had cultural and religious beliefs that he followed strictly and no one would sway him from his convictions.”