BY JAIROS SAUNYAMA
Scores of music lovers in Marondera and many more from outside the farming town converged at Rudhaka Stadium on June 1 to commemorate the life of one of their own music legend, Daiton Somanje, who died in 2015.
Several musicians were billed to perform at the event with Sungura maestro Alick Macheso leading the pack. Daiton’s eldest son Faheem and the late musician’s brother Josphat were also expected to perform, according to the billboards and posters that were posted everywhere in Marondera.
However, on the day of the event, something strange happened. Josphat was in no-show. After several hours of waiting, it became apparent that he would not turn up at all and this did not go down well with music fans who had expected him to be among the first arrivals.
The main act, Macheso, was also not amused. When he took to the stage, he spoke his mind, blasting the Haulume hit maker for failing to turn up for the event to support his late brother’s son Faheem.
“Where is he? Is he asleep? What kind of a father is he?” a flustered Macheso asked in visible anger.
Daiton’s brothers and other family members were present at the commemoration gig that ended at around 5am the following day.
The earlier highlight of the event was the unveiling of the tombstone for the late Daiton, which was procured through contributions from Pengaudzoke fans and the local business community. Even at the unveiling ceremony at Meki cemetery in the town, Josphat was not there.
Josphat has not been seen playing the father figure to his late brother’s son Faheem and this could be what drove Macheso to step in with assistance. The Mberikwazvo leader offered the young Faheem recording facilities at his studios in Chitungwiza, where the young man recorded his debut album Nhaka.
Still, Josphat did not attend the album launch which was held at The Legends Sports Diner in Marondera. Macheso once again graced the occasion and was the guest musician.
Speaking after the commemoration gig, Faheem said he was disturbed by his uncle’s behaviour. He said he was at a loss why he, of all people, had failed to turn up for both the tombstone unveiling and the commemoration gig.
“I am worried; I do not know why he didn’t turn up for both special events. As for the gig, he knew about it and I tried to call him, but he did not pick his calls. Even some of the organisers tried to reach him, but could not get hold of him,” said Faheem.
Gamba Remimhanzi official Onias Mahachi said he was shocked that Josphat had snubbed such important events.
“We did not expect him to do so given that he is a father and respected musician. He snubbed the events where all expected him to be present. He might have his reasons that we do not know,” said Mahachi.
Gamba Remimhannzi is an organisation that focuses on the welfare of music legends that might have fallen on hard times or families of those who die without leaving decent livelihoods to their progeny. They usually give cash and kind donations. The organisation is funded by well-wishers and mostly radio listeners.
Daiton, who died at age 50, was one of the founders of the famous Pengaudzoke Band, which he co-managed with his younger brother Josphat. However, just before Daiton passed on, there was animosity between him and his brother Josphat, which led to the split of Pengaudzoke.
Josphat went on to form Somanje Stars while Daiton remained with Pengaudzoke.
The split came after Josephat had travelled with the band’s vehicle to his in-laws in Malawi without the consent of his brother Daiton. The vehicle developed mechanical faults and was left in the neighbouring country. Meanwhile, Josphat, who was more educated than his elder brother Daiton, was accused of abusing company funds by withdrawing money from their band account without Daiton’s signature.
Several efforts to obtain comment from Josephat over his failure to attend his brother’s commemoration were fruitless as he did not answer his mobile phone.
However, a close ally of his, who preferred to remain anonymous, said Josephat had not been “formally” invited to the commemoration gig.
“He said he was shocked to see his name and picture on the posters while there was no formal invitation. He denied claims that there was a feud between him and his nephew Faheem. In fact, Josphat actually wept when he got wind that people were accusing him of sabotaging the young musician,” said the ally.
Pengaudzoke band members whom we interviewed, however, said Josphat was vengeful and unforgiving by nature and could hold onto grudges for a long time.
“He keeps grudges and rarely forgives. He can remind you today that you once took his girlfriend some years ago. That is his nature,” he said.