Transit Crew lost a close friend and collaborator last week, after their bass player of 30 years, Munyaradzi Nyemba passed away at his Mt Pleasant home after suffering a sudden heart attack.
By Simbarashe Manhango
He was 53.
In the wake of Nyemba’s death on Friday (March 11), Transit Crew lead guitarist Samaita Zindi told this reporter that: “It will never be the same when I look to my left on the stage.
“But, it is a much better world than never knowing him at all.”
“The chemistry was just different. His expertise and touch will certainly be tough to replace, yet it happens to be the only solution to keep the band as a unit,” added a dejected Zindi.
Nyemba was not only Zindi’s bass player, but he was also the band leader who was principled and emblematic of such qualities as toughness and a perfectionism.
“We would laugh on stage, at the same time strumming guitars, but the change of look on his face was not too hard to notice that one had gone off-key, yet the transition back to tune ensued fluently,” said Zindi.
The leadership demonstrated by Nyemba during his tenure as bassist and trailblazer set a direction for an outfit that went through a change of line-ups, to overcome the departure of some seasoned members, with the band remaining popular.
After the likes of Munya Brown and Emmanuel Frank relocated to the United Kingdom, the resilient Nyemba, who once trained as a soldier, guaranteed continuity.
“That militancy was evident and he epitomised some awesome negotiating skills that took us through an effortless journey of concerts with some of the world’s great performers,” said Zindi.
Another crucial moment that should have been the end of Transit Crew was when the outfit was deserted by its then finest vocal frontman, Mic Inity, who had proved to be a cut above the rest.
Mic Inity was, however, assertively replaced by other talents composed in the band in the mould of Mannex, Man Chaza and J Farai, who maintained a flawless bounce.
Transit Crew seemingly survived with a phone-book list of members, while other bands are never the same when one musician departs.
The chemistry and personalities that make the whole, is what matters and made Transit Crew stand the test of time.
Lead vocalist, Emmanuel Mannex Motsi was shocked when he learnt of the tragic news of Nyemba’s passing, barely a week after the two had performed together at Dandaro Inn.
“We had just played at Dandaro Inn the previous week before he passed on, and he was fit as ever,” said Mannex. “We were due to stage a concert last weekend at Legends in Marondera, but he passed away a day before we could do that.
“The passing on of Elder Munya is a huge blow to mainly the Nyemba family, but his legacy shall live on and keep reggae music alive. His expertise will forever be missed, but remain etched in the minds of many who knew his bass guitar-playing antics.”
In 2009, Ras Munya wrote a motivational expression on the Transit Crew’s album sleeve for the project Unity that reads: “As the ants, bees and birds unite in building homes, hunting food, in celebration we should do the same not only as a band, but as a country.”
This shared vision is what he hoped would guide the band in case of loss of any crucial member of the outfit.
After having worked with Nyemba for eight years, Mannex said though he was still mourning the passing of his idol and mentor, there was expertise in the mould of Zindi and Antony Liba that he could tap into and progress.
“I still have senior members in the outfit that I look up to. Above all, respect for one another will keep the band alive and strong,” said Mannex.
Nyemba is survived by his wife Abigail and two children Teveraishe (20) and Sipho (17).