Tuesday 12 February 2013

Elijah Madzikatire says father Safirio destroyed his musical career

Elijah Madzikatire

I met Elijah Madzikatire years after he had hung up his guitar. 

He had also left Gramma Records where he had produced the late Paul Matavire’s debut single VaJiri

At the time, Elijah had acted in the movie Everyone’s Child and had a comedy Bhero Mukadota running on ZBC TV.

We met at club in Hatfield one evening in 2004. He lumbered into the club about an hour after the appointment.

I had had the opportunity of attending a show in Mvurwi where the whole Mukadota Family turned out in 1979. I was a small boy then and during those days, Mukadota, who drove a BMW, travelled with a big troupe that included actors and musicians.

At the time, Elijah had released quite a number of songs. I recall very well his song about karate where he would imitate a karateka on stage.

Being the days of Bruce Lee movies, that song was very popular with boys.

Surprisingly, Elijah did not mince his words when he spoke to me about his days in the music industry and how his father treated him.

In some way, he revealed the other side of Mukadota who is regarded as one of Zimbabwe’s greatest comedians and musicians.

Elijah started his career as a doorman for his father’s group, the Afrojazz Fiesta.

Note: When the story ran in The Herald, Elijah refuted it after he realised the possible damage it would cause to his father's reputition. 

 The interview

Had it not been for his father, Elijah Madzikatire would not have ventured into the world of music in the 70s and 80s.

And again had it not been for the same inspiring father, who later put stumbling blocks onto his path, Elijah would not have left the world of music.

But in a case of a hen that eats its eggs, Safirio, arguably one of the best celebrated artists, destroyed his son’s career.

‘The main reason why I left music was because of endless arguments with my father. I had grown tired of his sketches and wanted to play music alone but he could not have any of it. As a result, and since i had no instruments of my now, I abandoned music,’ Elijah told me.

Elijah still remembered in 1980 when he was chosen to perform during Mozambique’s independence celebrations.

‘My father was not billed to perform but he followed us and had the programme changed to accommodate him. Well, that was done but because of the language barrier, people were not pleased with his performance. They demanded that I should play music for them.’

Elijah said there were times when his father would cause the cancellation of a show if he was not on the programme.

‘There were times when I would organise a show and when everything was going on well, my father would have it cancelled. He owned the instruments and so had every right to do whatever he wanted,' he further said.

But their problems were not only in shows but money too.
‘Whenever we held a poorly attended show, all the other members would be paid first. In case there was no money, father would not pay me.'

This, coupled with ill-treatment from his record company, ended Elijah’s promising music career that had started way back in the 70s when he used to work as a doorman for his father’s band – the Afro-jazz Siesta.

‘Father had joined the Afro-jazz Siesta after many escapades with musicians such as the late gospel pioneer Jordan Chataika,' he said.

Even with the Afro-jazz Siesta, Safirio who was also known as Baba Warwizi from his TV comedy, concentrated more on sketches. After playing with Afro-jazz Siesta, Safirio managed to buy some instruments and, together with Elijah, formed the Ocean City Band.

The original line-up had the late Tobias Areketa, saxophonist Phillip Svosve, Nicholas Hamwala and Elias Bokosha. The group was based at Paul Mkondo’s Hideout 99 in Lochnivar, Southerton.

When financial problems hit the group, the members walked out on the Madzikatires.

At the time, the late James Chimombe was working for Chitungwiza Town Council after leaving the OK Success. He was also planning of forming a band. At the same time, Chimombe met his saxophonist Daram Karanga in Chitungwiza who had also left the Chicken Runn Band. Since they were looking for instruments, the two approached Mkondo who told them about Safirio’s departure. 

Svosve, Himwala and Bokosha gladly welcomed Chimombe and Karanga as members of the band.

Abandoned but not completely marooned, the Mukadotas formed another group the Brave Sun. This was the group that discovered the late Elizabeth Taderera who was seen dancing at a pub in Mutare.

Katarina was to become the centre of the Sea Cottage Sisters, a vibrant dance troupe that made Safirio’s act a superb one.

But the 80s saw both Safirio and Elijah’s fortunes dipping. The Brave Sun disbanded. Katarina left to join Cde Chinx’ Mazana Movement and a come-back by Safirio with a new group, the New World made no impact.

It was with the Brave Sun that Elijah recorded his first single Ishe that went gold in 1978. The single was followed by Vana Vevanhu, Pasi Hariguti and an album Gukurahundi in 1980.

‘Our music was liked by many people. And it was because of this fact that Webster Shamu picked me for the Mozambican tour.
‘People also enjoyed the antics of Chibhodhoro, John Muyambo, who played congas. I had seen him playing with a rumba outfit and poached him when we introduced congas,' Elijah revealed.

The same Chibhodhoro was Elijah’s other half in their TV comedy Bhero Mukadota. Today, he plays with Tanga Wekwa Sando.

When he abandoned music, Elijah, who acted in Everyone’s Child, also took part in the series Mhuri yavaMakore with Safirio and Susan Chenjerai.

He worked for Gramma Records as a producer and produced Paul Matavire’s first song VaJiri. He also worked with Leonard Dembo and Lovemore Majaivana.

Backed by the Bhero Band, Elijah launched a come-back in the 90s and released a tribute song to his father called Tinokurangarirai but it did not do well.


John said...

Being the days of Bruce Lee movies, that song was very popular with boys..........
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Anonymous said...

Elijah has a great voice. I recall the song 'Amai ngavaropafadzwe'. Sorry brother Elijah but given the resources, why not give it a try?

Zimbocast said...

musakanganwe Mhoro Doro by Elijah its still a banger for me