HURUNGWE —The late Biggie Tembo was named “Mhosva” Marasha after he was born before his father could not pay lobola for his marriage to his late wife Anna Matunga-Marasha from Zvimba, the late musician’s father Tembo Marasha has revealed.
By Nhau Mangirazi
Biggie Tembo’s first name was “Mhosva” before he was named “Biggie” at a later stage.
The musician later renamed himself Rodwell.
“I named him ‘Mhosva’ as a confession that I had impregnated his mother before marriage. He was born in 1957 in Chinhoyi’s Hunyani Section and all his four brothers and a sister were raised in the same townm,” Marasha told The Standard Style in an exclusive interview at the burial of his wife in Hurungwe recently.
“Though Biggie was bright in school, he was naughty as he could make his own banjo guitars. His first guitar was made from his mother’s old pot and we were furious about him tampering with my fishing rods then. He continued singing at home and family gatherings.’’
Marasha (85) said the late musician was good in school to the extend of enrolling at Mzingwane High School in Matabeleland South in the early 1970s. However, the deal fell through due to the liberation war.
According to Biggie Tembo’s surviving brother Moyo Marasha, the family was inspired by their late mother, who was storyteller and a musician. He said their mother took part in traditional functions after the family had moved to Hurungwe in the late 1980s.
He said their mother was nicknamed Chitaunhike due to her folktales eloquence and singing.
“Most of Biggie’s songs were drawn from folktales told by our mother. For instance, the song Simbimbino, which became an international hit which he fused it as jiti and jazz. It was a folk tale, but he sang it well,” said Moyo.
“Even the song Chitaunhike was a folktale that encouraged elders to brew beer and look after younger generations as they ventured into the ‘unknown world’.’’
The song Chitaunhike has deep Kore Kore accent as Tembo tried to identify himself with his roots in Hurungwe.
Moyo said the late Matunga-Marasha was a household name in Hurungwe where she could be invited at rain-making ceremonies and other traditional gatherings.
“Chitaunhike was was an eloquent singer and a mbira player. She used to be invited as a special guest during traditional functions. She imparted her musical skills to all of us, but Biggie was a masterpiece as he could fuse the traditional songs easily using the guitar,” Moyo said.
Moyo said Biggie Tembo never went to the liberation war but the name Bhundu Boys was just in support of the struggle.
“Biggie never went to war, but he understood why war was being fought,” he said.
Moyo, who is also a musician, said he is the one who wrote the song Hatisi Tose, which made the Bhundu Boys a household name. He said the song was inspired by a real life situation after his late brother Francis broke up with his fiancé.
“It was a true story and I wrote the song and Biggie sang it. Some related the song to his domestic problems with his wife Ratidzo, but that was not the case,” he said.
The late musician’s son Biggie Tembo Junior seems to have followed his father’s footsteps and said he accompanied his late grandmother to traditional gatherings.
“I have taken music as part of my life and would like to revive my father’s career. I am facing challenges to acquire instruments and I don’t have transport of my own, but with the support I am getting, it will soon be a thing of the past,” said Biggie Tembo Junior.
“My mother is standing by me, but I am part of the Tembo family that why I am here today.”
Biggie Tembo Junior aged 25 years has since been joined by his brother Elia and are collaborating well in their bid to revive their father legacy.
The late Biggie Tembo who made international headlines as part of the Bhundu Boys committed suicide after suffering depression.
His wife Ratidzai said the musician died a destitute after he failed to manage his life.
However, last week saw the demise of the Tembo family that touched many people but the tall order is for Biggie Tembo Junior to revive Chitaunhike legacy in music circles within Hurungwe that captured the outside world.