If sungura maestro Tongai “Dhewa” Moyo could see the disintegration of his family now, he could be rolling over in his grave.
By Moses Mugugunyeki
When Dhewa died in 2011, he had six acknowledged children although unconfirmed reports suggest that the gifted singer had sired 17 children with seven different mothers.
While he was alive, Dhewa lived “happily” with his six children — Natasha, Nicole, Obert (Tongai Jnr), Tanaka, Nyasha and Peter — as well as his wife Miniehle Mukweli in Kwekwe’s Msasa Park.
However, all hell broke loose when the Samanyemba singer succumbed to non-hodgkins lymphoma cancer on October 15 2011 after a six-year battle. His eldest son, Peter, took over the reins at Utakataka Express; Mukweli dumped the family and remarried while Peter’s mother Maud Chirwa bounced back and stayed with the family at its new home in Mbizo.
Life was not all that rosy for Dhewa’s progeny, especially Natasha, Nicole, Obert and Tanaka who were in primary school when the sungura musician died.
“It was difficult and the family struggled to make ends meet after my father’s death,” said Obert in a recent interview with The Standard Style.
“During the early days, Peter would take care of the family, pay our school fees and life was good. However, things changed along the way and I had to go and stay at our rural home in Zhombe because life was difficult under the custody of Peter and his mother.”
Obert’s mother is Lucy Mahlatini and works in South Africa.
Obert, who is in the studio working on a single titled Dhewa Venyu, set to be released end of this month said he was happy that people will soon get to know him more after his brother, Peter dumped him in the rural areas. He said he had nothing against his brother and was wishing that one day they will work together to keep their father’s legacy alive.
“I have nothing against Peter and I am happy that there are some people who gave me a new lease of life after my own brother who was the bread winner had dumped me. I dropped out of school when I was in Form 3 because my brother could not pay fees, up until my mother who was in South Africa and her sister brought me to Harare,” he said.
Obert’s mother’s sister Lizy Magosvongo confirmed that she is the one who is now taking care of the “Young Igwee”.
“When Obert’s father died Maud [Peter’s mother] stayed with the children and it was not that rosy for the children that Tongai sired with other women, including Obert who was later dumped in the custody of the ailing Gogo Chihera [Tongai’s mother] in Zhombe,” said Magosvongo.
“When we heard that Obert had dropped out of school, we arranged with my sister that he comes to Harare and complete his education. His mother in South Africa paid for his fees until he completed O’ Level.”
Magosvongo blamed Peter’s mother for the disintegration of the Dhewa family.
“When Tongai was alive his children lived happily, especially the brothers Peter and Obert, but it all changed when Maud moved into the family home after Miniehle had left shortly after Dhewa’s death,” Magosvongo said.
“We thought Peter would take care of his sisters and brother after he took over the band, something he did during the early days. However, things took a twist when Peter would spend most of his time in Harare, purporting to be doing shows.”
Magosvongo said it was now time for the world to see the “real” Igwee.
“We have supported Obert to take up music since he is not gifted academically. He is growing up and is a talented musician just like his father. He wanted to sing dancehall, but we encouraged him to take his father’s path and keep the Dhewa legacy alive,” she said.
Obert, who is under the tutelage of Mutare-based sungura musician Brian Samaita, said after the single, he would drop an album before Christmas. Samaita was a close friend of the Dhewa family.
“I am working with Samaita’s band Murondatsimba Express. Samaita is drilling me, especially on the vocals. My other name is Tongai Jnr, so I am the real Dhewa… just wait for my project,”
Obert said he was wishing that one day they will share the stage irrespective of the troubled relationship with his brother.
“Peter is my brother and I am willing to work with him as long as we keep our father’s legacy alive. In the meantime, I am doing my things with Samaita who has been helpful to the family since our father died,” he said.
Samaita confirmed to The Standard Style that he was working with Obert whom he described as a talented singer. He said he would be happy to see the Dhewa family, especially the brothers Peter and Obert unite.
“He is talented like his father. I am just assisting him to grow and I am optimistic he will make it in the music industry. I have helped Dhewa’s family over the years, especially when Miniehle was still with the family. She was my link to the family,” he said.
“Tongai should be turning in his grave with what is happening. I hope the brothers will find each other and solve their problems amicably. They should not be divided by people because what is important is to keep their father’s legacy alive.
Peter said he was not closing any doors to his brother and was prepared to work with him to keep their father’s legacy.
“It is very possible to work alongside my brother. The person you are talking about is my blood brother and there is no way I can avoid him,” said Peter.
“I know everything that happens in his life because he is my blood brother. I know he is working on a music project and I don’t need someone outside my family to tell me.”
Peter said he did not want to talk about the past.
Moyo made his entry into the music industry in 1997 with an album titled Vimbo and he went on to produce 13 more albums. He released hits such as Samanyemba, Naye and Muchina Muhombe, among others.