HomeStandard PeopleLeonard Dembo two decades on

Leonard Dembo two decades on

Today marks the 21st anniversary since the death of Sungura maestro Leonard Dembo.

By Kennedy Nyavaya

Leonard Dembo’s sons Tendai (left) and Morgan (centre)
Leonard Dembo’s sons Tendai (left) and Morgan (centre)

The late Barura Express frontman is famed for releasing hit songs, among them Venenzia and Chitekete, which became household hits in the 1990s.

With a career stretching for over a decade, Musoro WeNyoka, as the prolific guitarist was also known, made an impact which is still being felt more than two decades later.

The Standard Style took time to look back at the life of one of the most talented artists to ever come out of the country.

In an interview yesterday, veteran producer and songwriter Clive Mono Mukundu said Dembo was a beckon of how great local music used to be and that is why his songs had transcended generations.

“He was one of the people who lifted up Zimbabwean music because he was a great music composer who even inspired the next generation of sungura after him,” said Mukundu, recalling the glorious moment when the song Chitekete was played at the Miss World Pageant in Namibia in 1996.

The same song was also voted Zimbabwe’s Silver Jubilee best song, reinforcing his name as one of the most reputable till today.

Unfortunately, when Dembo passed on Mukundu’s career was at its infancy and he never got to share the stage with him, but he acknowledges some inspiration he got from his songs.

“He inspired a lot of other younger musicians during his time, me included, as I learnt a few things, especially guitar strumming techniques,” he said.

Currently, Mukundu is recording for a UK-based trio named Kambo Boys, who stunned many with their uniquely fused sungura beats.

“What the current generation of upcoming sungura musicians should learn from Dembo is uniqueness which made him a great musician,” he said.

“Nowadays most songs in the genre have become monotonous as most of them copy Macheso and there is no variety but they should learn from Dembo who played in the same era with John Chibadura, System Tazvida and others, yet their music remained different.”

Dembo’s second born son and heir to his rich music legacy, Tendai said following in the same route as his father was not easy, but he has managed to establish a career.

“This first thing we did was to remind people that we were the children of Dembo and although we had challenges at first, now I can safely say we are stable,” said Tendai who works with his elder brother Morgan.

In less than five years, Tendai and his band Barura Express managed to keep the Dembo brand intact for people who loved his father’s music and he believes they still have more to offer.

“What I can promise is that the legacy is growing and we will improve the brand because so far we have managed to sell and market most of our music not because we are great but because of our supportive fans as well.”

He said they will be having an event to celebrate his father’s life at a private event tonight. Only a few guests were invited.

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