HomeStandard StyleWhy every artiste should write a will before death

Why every artiste should write a will before death

Fred Zindi

Death is unpredictable. You do not know when and how it will take place. It will come at any age whether young or old. We only exist on this earth from moment to moment never knowing who would be next to leave the world. No one can escape death.

It is therefore sensible to take certain precautions before it actually happens.

This is why it is important for every artiste, especially the successful ones, to write a will while they are still alive.

Two years ago, there was speculation as to whether Dr. Oliver Mtukudzi had written a will which would bequeath his estate to his loved ones and chosenmembers of his family.

Music fans reacted with shock to reports that the late national hero and internationally acclaimed superstar, had left all his estate to surviving wife, Daisy.

Mtukudzi died on January 21, 2019, triggering an outpouring of grief across the world but the spotlight immediately fell on what would happen to his estate amid reports Daisy and the singer’s children were engaged in a vicious battle for control.

Fortunately, a will which had been lodged with his lawyers well before he died, was found and that seemed to have settled whatever explosive dispute  would have followed.

Before that, it was Comrade Chinx (Dickson Chingaira} who, despite being married to two wives, did not write a will. That caused a dispute among his family members with the first wife, Patricia and second wife, Ntombizodwa at  loggerheads about who would occupy the house which had been donated to Comrade Chinx by Joseph Nyadzayo of ZIMA Awards.

This resulted in the former first lady, Grace Mugabe  becoming the executor of the estate. Chinx himself just before his death, had asked his benefactor, Joseph Nyadzayo if his second wife, Ntombizodwa would get something from his estate. There was no need for this question. It looked like Chinx knew he was about to die. All he needed was a lawyer to write a will which would be used in winding up his estate. If a will was in place, no such disputes would have emerged.

Even in rare situations where death is predictable such as the late Biggie Tembo’s, a will is still necessary in order to avoid future family disputes. Biggie Tembo who was the driving force behind the Bhundu Boys committed suicide. Distraught at having left the Bhundu Boys in acrimonious circumstances, Biggie hanged himself in Harare’s psychiatric hospital.

At the height of his success in the late 1980s, Biggie Tembo lived with his wife, Ratidzai in a bungalow with a swimming pool in the affluent suburb of Harare’s Hillside. He left Ratidzai and the children stranded after he committed suicide and no will was found even though he knew that he was going to die. That was a disaster for the family.

John Chibadura in Zuva Rekufa Kwangu wrote these lyrics:

Vadzimu woye ndiroteseiwo zuva riya (zuva rekufa kwangu). Kana ndafa hupfumi hwangu hungadyiwe naniko.

Despite thisnoble thinking before he died, he never left a will.

Now I hear from reliable sources that there are big problems at the late Ephat Mujuru’s estate. Ephat, like Comrade Chinx, also had two wives. When he died, the younger wife occupied his Glen View home. His children from the first wife, Carol, Michelle and James decided to go and stay with the younger wife claimimg that was their father’s place. There were a lot of fights as the two families were in dispute.

I am told there are still a lot of fights going on. One would think that Mujuru would have put a will together before his death in view of his two contesting wives, unfortunately, he did not.

Not having a will entails that your immediate next of kin (children, parents, brother, sister etc.) will have to suffer battles between relatives fighting for what you intended them to have.

They will be fighting about who gets to keep the car, house or even money.

This might even disturb your beneficiaries physically, emotionally or even mentally yet there is a simple solution to solve all these predicaments.

Writing a will does not necessarily mean that you will be dying tomorrow. It’s just a simple way of securing the future of your beneficiaries. Since we do not know when we will breathe our last breath, it is very important to hit the iron while it is still hot (writing a will whilst you still can).

In case you have forgotten who Ephat Mujuru was, here is a brief history of the humble mbira maestro:

Mujuru is the man who taught the American author of The Soul of Mbira, Paul Berliner, to play the instrument when he visited Zimbabwe. The American then invited Ephat to visit the United States and teach others to play mbira.

In 1982, Mujuru went to the United States for the first time to study and, eventually, lecture and teach mbira at the University of Washington in Seattle. On his return to Zimbabwe in 1986, Mujuru became a school teacher at Mbare High School and also started live performances in night clubs and small venues.

He would also hang out at the Zimbabwe College of Music where he would give mbira lessons mainly to visiting foreign tourists.

Throughout the 1980s, Mujuru travelled widely. In the United States, he released an album of traditional hand drumming titled, Rhythms of Life, recorded in Boston in 1989.

During the 1990s, Mujuru continued to travel and perform, and in the United States, he recorded two more albums for Music of the World: Ancient Wisdom and Shona Spirit, the latter being a collaboration with Dumisani Maraire.

Mujuru also recorded an ambitious, multi-track album he called Journey of the Spirit.  Back in Zimbabwe, he also released successful pop albums with a revamped electric version of Spirit of the People.

In 1992, Mujuru’s first electric album Hapana Mutorwa made its way to the top of the local charts, edging out Zimbabwe sungura kings Leonard Dembo and John Chibadura. But as conditions worsened in Zimbabwe, Mujuru travelled and recorded less.

In early September, the electric album, Musiyano, was released and got a very positive review in the local papers, under the heading, Mujuru Back With a Bang.  During that period, he also played alongside Fela Kuti of Nigeria and he won a Pan African Award in Ghana for his contribution in preserving the African culture.

Mujuru, as the papers had predicted, seemed poised for a genuine comeback. But less than a month later, on October 5, he died in London, while travelling with his cousins Fradreck and Sam.

He was on his way to begin a residency at Grinnell College in Iowa. Sadly, Mujuru suffered a massive heart attack that day on disembarking from an Air Zimbabwe plane after experiencing deep vein thrombosis at Gatwick Airport and died on his way to hospital.

Despite his great achievements, this unpredictable death made him leave this world without settling future disputes from his family.  Simply put, he did not write a will before he died. This explains why his family members are still fighting to this day.

Mujuru did not have a lot of property or assets but the little that he had is now being fought for, which is rather unfortunate.

It is, therefore, essential that everyone writes a will before they die.

A will is a legal document by which a person expresses their wish as to how their properties are to be distributed after death. After the will is duly executed in terms of the Wills Act it will be distributed to the Master of the High Court’s office and to the will writer’s legal practitioner.

You do not have to write a will just because you have many properties or assets in your name. Not only rich and wealthy people write wills. Everyone can write stating their last wishes. This is why I say every artiste, despite the little amount of property or assets that he or she has, must write a will in order to have their intentions known and to make winding up of their estate easier.

My friends: Rockie Josphat, Killer T,  Seh Calaz, Alexio Kawara, Nutty O, Poptain, Tocky Vibes, Shinsoman,  Pablo Nakappa, Filbert Marova, DJ Tamuka, Guspy Warrior, EnzoIshall, Kinnah, Stunner, Van Choga, Leonard Zhakata, Noel Zembe, ExQ, etc., go and visit a lawyer soon and put your house in order before your death.

Feedback: frezindi@gmail.com

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