I don’t know if the hair salon the late Papa Jose’s wife, Ngalula Maria Kayembe works is still there by the corner of Samora Machel and Julius Nyerere Way near the popular bottle store. It was there where I met her in 2006 for the Papa Jose of Ndochi fame. Maria also features on the video.
She is a humble woman trying to make ends meet after her husband’s death. Her story, however, is one of agony after the record company, the now defunct Record and Tape Promotions could not pay royalties. But she smiles when she talks about her husband.
She remembers what happened for her to be in the video: I got involved in the video by chance” she reminisced” My husband asked me to accompany him just to see how a video is made. But when we arrived, the late Ray Makahamadze asked me to participate since Ndochi was about love and I was his (Papa Jose’s) wife – Ngalula Maria Kayembe
This is her story
It was a very brilliant video of a song that meant nothing in particular but carried a love feel portrayed through the raunchy dance routines and an amorous man urging Maria to dance to the Ndochi! Ndochi! chants.
And Ndochi became a slogan. So did the dance routines but not the musicians.
Papa Jose (real name Joseph Ndlovu) is now late. He died in 2003 and some of the nine-member Too Powerful Nyekese group are also late except Peter Majoni and two or three others.
Ngalula Maria Kayembe, Papa Jose’s wife, has gone back to hair dressing after that short walk under the glare of the television cameras.
“I got involved in the video by chance” she reminisced” My husband asked me to accompany him just to see how a video is made. But when we arrived, the late Ray Makahamadze asked me to participate since Ndochi was about love and I was his (Papa Jose’s) wife”.
The fun ended there for Papa Jose’s follow-up album Kumbayambaya released in 1998 failed to rise to the same crescendo as Ndochi (1996). That too was the fate of his debut album, Manzanza released in 1994.
The fourth album was still born and is Maria’s problem.
“He had finished recording another album a year or two before his death but the material was lost. According to Peter Mparutsa, who was working on the album, the machine he used for mixing the music was sold to South Africa together with the music. Now, he says, I should bring him the cassette he had given us. “But I do not have it. Papa Jose’s relatives took everything that belonged to him,” she explained.
For her husband’s efforts, all what Maria got from the Record and Tape Promotions as pension was $3 000.
“I refused to take the money because I needed $4 000 for a trip to and from Masasa. Going to collect the money would have left me $1 000 poorer,” she said.
Today Maria can only remember that the man who later became Zimbabwe’s top grade musician had started his career some years back in the Congo from where he would cross into Zambia and sometimes Tanzania.
Born in Zimbabwe, Papa Jose relocated to Congo with his mother when he was a small boy.
There, as a teenager, he had the chance to listen to some of Congo’s renowned rhumba artistes and thought seriously about becoming a musician.
But with the tight economy in that country, Papa Jose embarked on cross-border trade.
In 1979, he followed his mother to Zimbabwe and thought of settling down although he would from time to time take a trip to Congo where in 1983 he met the schoolgirl, Ngalula Maria Kayembe, who was to become his wife and then dancer.
When he finally returned to Zimbabwe, he married the schoolgirl and brought her home.
Because Papa Jose had no job, he got involved in music. First, he linked with the Real Sounds before he was sent by a Dr Nyamuswa to bring the Zambian outfit, Orchestra Mangelepa, to Zimbabwe in 1988.
Based at Sanganayi Inn, Papa Jose played with the group until its return to Zambia a few years later after which he gathered a group of musicians and started TP Nyekese.
With Ndochi, TP Nyekese had a quantum leap but death and desertions by musicians saw the group experience a quantum fall.
“Kumbayambaya was affected by inexperienced musicians who were enlisted to play rhumba when they were Zimbabweans. It was not in any way like Ndochi,” said Maria.
With a faltering career, he found employment as a bus driver with the Zimbabwe Passenger Company (Zupco) and many other companies while at the same time he would return to music.
Today, Maria does not get any meaningful amount in royalties.
“Sometimes I get $120 000. At one time, they paid me $20 000,” she said resignedly.
“I think the album that was supposed to have been released would have made a difference. But as it is, I can’t run around when I am supposed to fend for the children.”
Peter Majoni left to join the late Ketai Muchawaya and the Simba Brothers before he linked with the late Marko Sibanda.
Today he is doing his own things.