Tuesday 7 August 2012

In death Freddie Chimombe must still be angry

Freddie's last residence
I have no doubt that Freddie Chimombe died still angry with the late J Masters over bits and pieces of music equipment he claims the businessman conned him; with Diana Samukange over the claims that she cheated him over his father’s songs’ deal; with his stepmother for inheriting the family Cranborne home; with his mother Marina Green for throwing him out of their Jerusalem home; the Zimbabwe Music Rights Association; and with himself for squandering his father’s fortunes.
It appears Freddie, who made more headlines because of his poverty and illness than musical success, had a thing about and against everybody.
In 2006 Freddie Chimombe took a kombi to the city from Highfield and then another one to Avondale to collect his royalties from the Zimbabwe Music Rights Association.
To his dismay, Freddie got Z$11 000 which was not enough for the trip into the city let alone to Highfield.
Together with a number of other musicians, Freddie passed by The Herald and I spoke to him. At the time, a loaf of bread was Z$130 000.
From the conversation, I wrote three stories - two of them about how Zimura was skinning off musicians and the other was my Thursday column - Sounds check - where I described Zimura's act as criminal.
That sucked in the late Prince Tendai who was the association’s chairman then. It also defined how Prince Tendai and I would relate over the years until I left The Herald.
I had to give Freddie money for the kombi to get back to Highfield.
The second time was when he came to protest against a story I had written quoting Daram Karanga, the man who played the saxophone on all his father’s songs saying that Freddie had squandered the money left by his father.
I had interviewed Daram after his fight with Freddie over royalties. Before James’ death, Daram who also composed some songs which were sung by James used to receive royalties although there was no written agreement.
But after James’ death, Freddie stopped giving Daram money. The recording company, Zimbabwe Music Corporation too could not do anything because there was no written agreement.
Daram revealed that Freddie, who inherited everything James had except a house in Cranborne, opened a butchery and a grocery shop in Goromonzi where he would perform mostly during weekends. 
According to Daram and even Freddie later admitted, the young man would buy beer for the people who came to see him perform. Later, he would book for a show but never turned up because of drunkenness.
In time, Freddie started selling bits and pieces of music instruments to survive. But he did not last and then illness set in.
It was around the time when he had just started ailing that Diana Samukange called me with a request to see Freddie and ask him for the rights to some of his father’s songs. I linked her up but Freddie later accused Diana of conning him.
The last time I saw Freddie was when he was real down. His mother had pushed him out of their Highfield house and he was staying in a shack at Hopley Farm on the outskirts of Harare.
His was not just a sorry sight but a very terrible situation.
Sitting outside his black plastic shack and watching three of his young children playing in the dust, Freddie did not mince his words accusing the late J Masters of stealing music equipment; Diana of lying to him and still owing him money; about the Cranborne house which his stepmother inherited and the death of his stepbrother Kudakwashe who was born disabled.
He also did not have kind words for his mother, Marina Green, whom he accused of chasing him out of the Jerusalem house because she could not see eye-to-eye with his wife. Then there were his sisters too whom he said were a bad influence on his mother.
Of course, he admitted that he had been careless but that was because of immaturity. If he had another chance, he said, he would do things differently.
It turned out that God did not give Freddie another chance. RIP.
Below is part of the first interview ever done after Freddie’s illness. It ran in the predecessor of the H-Metro – City.Com on Saturday August 9 2008.

Chimombe's Son Falls into Poverty

FREDDIE Chimombe, the late James Chimombe's only surviving son who is now ill, claims that Harare businessman Joe Masters sold his instruments in 2004.
The 35-year-old father of five, who now lives in a plastic shack at Hopley Farm on the outskirts of Harare after losing ownership of his father's Cranborne house to his late disabled stepbrother Kudakwashe, admitted this week that he had hit hard times.
With his sight failing because of TB and bad living conditions, Freddie sways while sitting and drags his feet when he walks.
His mother, Marina Green, who stays in a big rumbling house in the Jerusalem section of Highfield, also said his son's life was a constant pain to her.
But the frail and pitiful Freddie's major concern is the loss of instruments he inherited from his father.
"I am appealing to Masters as a businessman who has lots of money to just return my kit . . .

Stories done later

 Chimombe's son pleads for help

Freddy is surviving on buying and selling empty bottles although he sometimes gets his father’s music royalties from sales and airplay.
“Apart from the royalties from my father’s music, I am doing a business of buying and selling bottles to keep food on the table,” said Freddy in an interview at his makeshift home.
His father’s house in Cranborne is currently occupied by tenants following a court order that his stepmother inherits it.
“My health has immensely deteriorated due to poor living conditions and I have visited several doctors and undergone several tests, but they can’t find the real problem. I think I am bewitched,” he said.
Freddy (38), a father of five children is now partially blind after a snake spat venom in his eyes five years ago.
He described his situation as a “one-meal-per-day” living. He pleaded to fellow musicians to help him out.
“I would be grateful if I get assistance to get out of this mess.”
He said he is working on an album which he hopes to release this year.
“I am working on a new album. I want to revive my father’s band name like what the Dembos (Morgan and Tendai) are doing, despite the fact that I am in a challenging situation.”
A few years ago Freddy tried unsuccessfully to revive his father’s music.
He denied claims that he gave Lincoln Chimombe a go-ahead to revive his father’s band. Lincoln has often claimed that he is working on taking on from where the late great musician left.
“He is my half-brother and he came here with that request, but I told him to start his own thing because I am now having problems with people that are re-recording and publicly playing my father’s music without giving me anything.”
However, Freddy has made an arrangement with Diana Samukange, who recorded a remix of his father’s song Zvaitika in her Kumagumo Erudo that she pays royalties.
As he narrated his ordeal, he broke down many times.
He praised his wife for standing by him in these hard times. - newsday

Freddy Chimombe Resigned to Fate

 Son of the late veteran musician James Chimombe, Freddy, who is battling tuberculosis says he has lost hope of recovery as his condition continues to deteriorate.
In an emotional interview at his house at Hopley Farm, the musician said he could now "smell death" and has left everything to fate.
He said his health has been getting worse since last year despite taking medication.
"My brother, I can smell death as I am sitting here. Things are not well at all," said Freddy (39).
As he narrated his ordeal, the musician broke down many times.
Recently Freddy received US$700 from Patson Chimbodza, a music promoter, who initiated a charity match meant to benefit the musician and a local soccer academy.
The musician had earlier on announced his intention to visit popular Nigerian prophet TB Joshua but last week said he had changed plans because he no longer had hope.
"I cannot go to TB Joshua because it's now too late. The doctors are saying I have TB and they have been giving me treatment but for now having treatment or not is just the same."
Freddy said he was now considering relocating to their rural home in Chivhu.
"I don't want to keep on burdening my wife. You know how difficult it is to keep someone who cannot walk on his own here in the city."
He thanked his wife for being supportive during this difficult time.
"I want to thank my wife for standing by me. She has taken care of me and showed great love." – The Standard

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