Sunday 9 October 2011
Farai Pio Macheka impressed me as a reluctant survivor
From selling vegetables at a Glen Norah market to being a fishmonger, the late Farai Pio Macheka gave me the impression that he was not only a reluctant musician but survivor who had given up on himself.
Indeed, Macheka committed suicide complaining that his music wasn’t being played on radio and that nobody wanted it.
It was journalist-cum-music promoter Martin Chemhere who brought Farai Pio Macheka to me in 2007, a year before he committed suicide. Chemhere was trying to help Pio rebound.
My first impression of Pio was that of a reluctant musician being dragged. The interview was a sluggish one. Pio had nothing much to say except one-word answers.
I remember a few shows were held and there was talk about him coming back. Then came the silence.
When I later ran into Chemhere at Ximex Mall, he was not upbeat about Pio anymore. They had parted ways.
When news of Pio’s death came, I spoke to his wife Eusebia who told me that Pio had lost interest in music opting to go fishing. He, in fact, had become a fishmonger.
His sister, Anna, also said when Pio committed suicide; he had asked her to pray for him. She said they thought that Pio had thought of going to South Africa to look for a job since he had a class 2 driver’s licence.
“He was always complaining that his type of music, Chimurenga, was not receiving enough airplay on national radio and also that music promoters were shunning him. This made him bitter, though we did not think that his disenchantment with the state of the entertainment industry would lead him to commit suicide,” said Anna.
Pio was a good musician but the odds seemed to have been against him. In 1997 when he was riding high, unknown assailants thought to have been linked to Thomas Mapfumo cut off his dreadlocks and accused him of being a copy cat.
After that incident, he went underground, presumably fish-mongering until his return in 2001 when he had a new manageress Judith Mabika.
Below is the story I wrote when he committed suicide
One of Zimbabwe’s popular Chimurenga musicians, Farai ‘Pio’ Macheka committed suicide and did not die after a short illness as earlier reported, his relatives said.
Macheka is said to have committed suicide by drinking a pesticide, ‘Roga’ and died on admission at Chitungwiza Central Hospital.
However, both the police and hospital officials could not disclose the actual cause of Macheka’s death.
However the Herald reports that Macheka is said to have been already dead when he was brought to Chitungwiza Hospital.
The chief executive officer of the hospital Dr Obadiah Moyo said when Macheka was brought to the hospital for treatment, he was already dead.
“We assisted with the provision of mortuary services for Pio as he was brought here already dead.’’
Police spokesperson Assistant Inspector Memory Pamire said he was also not aware that Macheka had committed suicide.
However Anna Macheka (44), his elder sister and the artiste’s wife Eusebia Garisayi (24) said Macheka committed suicide.
“Pio was complaining that the royalties he was receiving for his music were a pittance as compared to the effort and resources he had invested.
“He was always complaining that his type of music, Chimurenga, was not receiving enough airplay on national radio and also that music promoters were shunning him.
“This made him bitter, though we did not think that his disenchantment with the state of the entertainment industry would lead him to commit suicide,” said Anna.
Macheka’s wife said: “He often complained about the current radio’s fixation with sungura music saying that this was killing the music industry as other types of music were being sidelined, but we never expected him to take his life over that.” - October 2008
Singer may have killed himself over royalties, lack of airplay
An upcoming Zimbabwean singer may have committed suicide because of his disenchantment over lack of his recognition for his music and trifle royalties from album sales, his family said.
Pio Farai Macheka, famed for his hit song Karinga Wangu, was disillusioned with the music industry and particularly unhappy that his music was not receiving airplay and promoters were not giving him gigs, but he never showed signs he was suicidal, his sister said.
"Pio was complaining that the royalties he was receiving for his music were a pittance as compared to the effort and resources he had invested,” said Anna Macheka, his elder sister.
She added: "He was always complaining that his type of music, Chimurenga, was not receiving enough airplay on national radio and also that music promoters were shunning him.
"This made him bitter, though we did not think that his disenchantment with the state of the entertainment industry would lead him to commit suicide.”
The singer, 41, was dead by the time he arrived at Chitungwiza Central Hospital last week, hospital authorities said.
"We assisted with the provision of mortuary services for Pio as he was brought here already dead,” hospital CEO Dr Obadiah Moyo told the Herald newspaper.
Pio’s family say he took his own life by drinking a pesticide called roga.
Eusebia, his surviving 24-year-old wife said: "He often complained about radio's fixation with sungura music saying that this was killing the music industry as other types of music were being sidelined, but we never expected him to take his life over that."
Macheka famously claimed that Chimurenga star Thomas Mapfumo had hired men to attack him and shave off his dreadlocks because he had allegedly copied his style.
He announced his arrival on the scene with Mabweadziva, his debut album released with his backing group, Black Ites.
He released two other albums, MaKitchen Party and Mutonga. – newzimbabwe.com
He was born on 16th of May 1963 in Harare. In family of five (consisting of two boys and three girls) he was the last born. Originally he comes from Chirumanzi (Masvingo). He is one of the Karanga tribe. His totem (clan name) is Murozwi. He grew up in a poor family, and his family struggled to meet his needs and school fees. He started his grade at Deews Primary School in Masvingo province. He left Masvingo for Harare in 1974 and continued with his education at Glen Norah where he sat for his grade seven in 1977.
After grade seven he went to Saint Peters High School where he did his form one. He could not proceed to form two because of financial constraints. So in 1979 he did not go to school because his father was earning very small money that he could not continue to support the family.
He started on art craft and music from which he earned himself enough money and continued with his secondary education which he was doing his real results corresponding collage he sat for his 0 level in 1984.Commitments he was involved in, which he earned some money.
In the year 1996, He formed his first musical group called “The Ancestors Beat Band”. It was consisted of eight members. The band did very well reggae music. And on the other hand, he was fighting on a war of his own, the traditional music war.
This war was continued when he approached some recording companies because they could not accept to record his staff as they regarded as copyrights of other musicians like Thomas Mapfumo. The long fought battle with those companies was a blessing in disguise. So he continued performing shows without any recordings.
So he managed to acquire enough fame which excited the large audience which he used to house during his live performances. The only limitation to his success was large sums of money he used to hire musical equipment which used to drawn most of his earnings. Things began to change. For the better under the management of Nyarai Packry and Pervy Nyika. They recorded his music entitled “Mabwe Adziva” which was composed of.
In 1987 victory came to his side when he managed to record two traditional seven singles which flopped duo to lack of air play and publicity he never lost hopes. In the same year, he joined The Demera Band under the leadership of Phillippa Ndemera the name to which he added “Ites” to make it “Ndemera-Ites Band”.
He played with Ndemera-Ites up to 1991. In 1992 his father died. By then he stopped playing music. It was very unfortunate that the person who was promoting the band was the beaten by some hooligans who insisted that we should stop playing Chimurenga Music.
So he and other guys who played mbira were fired The Demera-Ites continued play. But this time the resorted to play a Simanje Manje Beat (South African Beat).
In order to make songs meet he started to sell some vegetables at a market place in Glen Norah. That very same year he was discovered by a new recording company called Record and Tape Promotions.
“That was my first successful album which also included the hit song "Karinga Wangu" which topped the charts for several weeks on number one.
This was the beginning of his success story as he was now playing the songs at full packed venues, just like the big name of that time.
He also started sharing stages with local and international artist. Namely Oliver Mtukudzi, Lovemore Majaivana, Shabba Ranks, Gregory Isaacs, Misty in Roots, Kanda Bongo Man, Freddie Gwala, Aleck Macheso, Tongai Moyo, Ambuya Stella Chiweshe, Ambuya Dyoko, Ephat Mujuru just to mention a few. – geocites.com