By Moses Mugugunyeki
The Afro-fusion duo of Willis Wataffi and Mehluli “Taz” Moyo became overnight sensations following the release of their hit song Wanga in 2004 which catapulted them to global fame.
In 2006, the duo, backed by a star-studded outfit calling themselves Afrika Revenge, performed before one million fans in India at the 25th anniversary of the Art of Living, an Indian educational and humanitarian movement.
No other Zimbabwean musician or group has performed before such a huge crowd and former member of the group and now Sulumani Chimbetu’s Orchestra Dendera Kings drummer Carlton Mparutsa believes the collapse of Afrika Revenge in December 2006 was due to Wataffi and Taz’s failure to deal with the complexities of sudden fame.
“The greatest moment of my career was when we played before a crowd of almost one million people in India with Afrika Revenge in 2006,” said Mparutsa, who hails from the music-crazy Mparutsa family and a protégé of the Runn Family.
“It was something else. Everything happened so fast.
“I think that’s why Afrika Revenge ended sooner.
“What comes fast goes the same way. It was unbelievable.”
Despite having been together on the music scene for close to eight years, Afrika Revenge shot to stardom following the release of their 2004 chart-busting album Afrika Revenge Presents Qaya Musik.
That same year the group swept almost every accolade at the Zimbabwe Music Awards, walking home with the Song of the Year (Wanga), Best Male Artiste, Best Jazz Album, as well as the Best Newcomer gongs.
In 2005 Afrika Revenge won the Outstanding Album Award for Afrika Revenge Presents Qaya Musik.
They called their music Qaya Roots and they were the darling of many. They were surrounded by talent and at some point in time they had Tendai Manatsa, Josh Meck, Q Montana, Victor Mparutsa, Adrian Mparutsa, Pablo Nakappa, Oscar Chamba, Rute Mbangwa and Namatayi Mubariki in their ranks.
“I became sceptical because I knew that when a career starts with a bang, it quickly fizzles out,” Mparutsa said.
In December 2006 Afrika Revenge collapsed.
“I just think the two [Wataffi and Taz] were not ready for such a sudden rise to fame,” Mparutsa said.
“Although the split was by mutual agreement, the shock [of fame] eclipsed their talent.
“It was too much and I think fame should come gradually.
“It has to be a journey. Look at the likes of Boom Berto and Tocky [Vibes], among others. They could not live up to their public image.”
However, Mparutsa said despite going separate ways the two were doing well in their respective careers.
“Taz set up an advertising company, while Willis is into video and film making. They were mentored businesswise by the late Prince Tendai,” he said.
“Taz’s company is called Tracy Mason Media and it has some of the biggest contracts in Zimbabwe doing advertising for big corporates and retail outlets, while Willis founded Qaya Roots Media and Clothing.
“I think all the band members went on to become more successful after Afrika Revenge. Each and every one is well-established.”
Manatsa, Meck, Q Montana, Victor, Adrian, Nakappa, Muparutsa, Chamba, Mbangwa and Mubariki have garnered major success in their respective solo music careers.