BY SHARON SIBINDI
WHEN one becomes accustomed to a way of life that makes everything easy going — where one is almost always hand-held by a mentor, life becomes easy and a stroll in the park.
The walk is made easy by stepping into the footprints of the teacher, but reality dawns and life becomes hard and challenging when the mentor or teacher disappears from the picture.
This sums up the life of the Bulawayo top musician, Nicholas “Chase” Skuza, who for years had his brother the late Solomon Skuza to impart teachings to him.
However, after the death of Solomon, Chase had to face the challenges of the world and those of the music industry alone.
Exploring the life of Chase, it emerged that his was a life of trials and tribulations as he traversed in the shadows of his late brother’s legacy.
In an interview with Standard Style, Chase Skuza said their late father Jackson Skuza inspired their music careers.
“Our late father Jackson Skuza influenced and inspired our music careers with my late brother Solomon,“ Chase said.
“He used to sing and was a famous man in Ntoli, Plumtree. He sang during the time of choristers where there were no guitars.
“He was a person who used to entertain people, especially when there were functions and all these songs like Bayisana, he sang without instruments.”
Chase said when their father died in 1973, his late brother started to show an interest in music.
“When our father died in July 1973, Solomon had started to show signs that he loves music and then started doing the work, which our father was doing and he was now playing the bass guitar,” he said.
“In 1974, Solomon went to Bulawayo and later crossed into South Africa where he started singing music, which he called Mparanyana. That’s when he started to play that music, which sounded like Mahlathini or Mazambane.”
Chase said Solomon then left South Africa for Zambia.
“When he was in Zambia, he went for military training under Zipra before he started entertaining refugees, especially Zimbabweans in camps. He had a band called Zimbabwe Stars. He was with LMG [The Light Machine Gun] choir with Happiness Sibanda, who was a teacher and the late Give Nare,” Chase said.
“When he came back from Zambia in 1980, he decided to name the band Fallen Heroes, he had shows in Bulawayo in places like Mpopoma Hall. I was part of his band members…abafana bakhe abancane ( his young boys ). I learnt a lot from him during that time and I remember him teaching us how to come up with hit songs.”
“One of the most crucial advice, which I will never forget, was that ‘If you are a musician, you must desist from copying someone’s work…. be creative’,” Chase said.
“He said people love creativity and if you are singing music on death, you must not be seen jumping up and down the stage, if its happiness, the artiste must also show happiness.
“During that time I was with Khumbulani from Tukuye Sounds and his first single was recorded in Magwegwe after being groomed by Solomon.
“We had shows in every corner of Bulawayo and several musicians like Ndux, Obadiah Matulana as well as Thusanang would come to Solomon because they felt his taste of music was good,” he said.
”Solomon would play mbaqanga, reggae, traditional and tjibilika to name a few. We travelled a lot with him around, especially in1985 playing at places like Craneborne and Nyamutamba in Harare. We met Lovemore Majaivana when he was with Fanyana [Dube] at Queens Hotel in Harare. “I remember the poster would read Solomon Skuza, Majaivana and John Chibadura.
”I then went to South Africa as I had also grown into a musician inspired by my father. I continued with my music and I worked with a lot of artistes such as Bhekumuzi Luthuli whom we used to share a room with. I met the likes of Zamalek, David Simelane and we had shows together in Harare.”
Chase said when Solomon passed away, Khumbulani was there and it was on Tuesday July 24 in 1994.
“After his death in 1994, ZMC’s [Zimbabwe Music Corporation] Tymon Mabaleka who was Solomon’s producer told me that Khumbulani could not do well singing my brother’s music and asked me to fill the gap,” Chase said.
“I had to sit down and decide then in 1998, I met up with Khumbulani, we rehearsed and did shows together as he was my younger brother.
“We were in the company of Cornelius and Rabson who later passed away. I then told Khumbulani that Mabaleka had asked me to fill the gap left by Solomon.
We then rehearsed and started producing music with Mabaleka till his death in 2013.
“After his death, Bothwell Nyamhondera who was Khumbulani’s producer then came to me and said he wanted to work with someone like me.”
Skuza said he has an album, which he started in 2017 but would be released now due to pressure from his fans.
Last year Skuza was arrested while on stage and jailed for some months in a South African prison for defrauding a truck driver of $2 900 in 2015.
“I had an album, which I had recorded in 2017, but when I went to ‘college’, fans demanded an album and it will be out soon,” he said.
“The album is titled Indlela Yempilo and it has four tracks. When I heard people talking about this and that bad about me, my mind changed.
“I then took my book and I was writing down my song asking ….‘if it was you, how would you feel and if it was someone else, how would you feel as well’”.
He said the song Indlela Yempilo was composed while he was doing his time in jail.
“I saw it as God’s will for me to go to prison as I had to share a lot with the world. I also learnt that anyone, be it a minister or pastor; they can go to jail,” he said.
“In my song, I honoured everyone who came to support me from the prison officers, omalayitsha, pastors to friends like Magwaza, Ndux, Sotsha Moyo, businesspeople. I appreciate.”
Skuza said his shows have gained popularity and fans are so happy that he is back.
“I have learnt that you never know what will happen tomorrow, only what you know is about yesterday,” he said.