BULAWAYO – Over the past decade, only Lovemore Majaivana’s distinct sound has refused to be drowned by South African music which has become the favourite of many in Bulawayo.
The likes of DJ Cleo, Dr Malinga and Professor are so popular in the City of Kings that an outsider can easily be forgiven for thinking that they are musicians from the city’s bustling township of Makokoba.
This dominance of South African music in Bulawayo households is not a new phenomenon though. In the past, other genres that include Mbaqanga, Pantsula and Kwaito were just as popular.
This musical avalanche from across the Limpopo has, however, come unstuck against the music of self-exiled and United States of America-based Majaivana who has been variously nicknamed Majee, Umkhwenyana weMpopoma or Umagezangochago.
So popular was Majaivana in his heyday that Barbourfields Stadium — the home of Highlanders Football Club — was nicknamed Emagumeni after Majaivana did a song that had a verse which had the following verse; “Sake sahamba emagumeni abany’ abantu, sadlala ibhora emagumeni abany’ abantu.”
A rough translation of this verse means “we used to go to other people’s stadiums to play soccer” and after that song was released Barbourfields Stadium became Emagumeni and the name has stuck ever since.
Majaivana’s golden oldies have served to stoke up the flames ahead of a Bosso match at Emagumeni as his hit Badlala Njani Ibhola is still a favourite of many Bosso supporters.
Commuter omnibus crews have since realised that the best way to attract passengers when plying the Barbourfields route on a Sunday when Highlanders is in action is to play Majaivana’s songs on Zimbabwe’s oldest football club.
House music and other new school music take a back seat to Majaivana’s music on such days as the city of Bulawayo tries to keep alive the music of their prodigal son who has not only turned his back on the city but also cut ties with the profession that gave him fame.
Majaivana’s son, Derrick Tshuma, has tried to ride on his father’s popularity by forming his own band and singing mostly covers of his father’s old music but the young man has so far failed to match the standards set by his dad.
The young man has just failed to make a mark in the music industry unlike other sons of local music legends Peter Moyo and Suluman Chimbetu who have created careers out of the legacies left behind by their late legendary fathers.
Majaivana’s self-imposed exile continues despite concerted efforts by his fans for him to make a comeback.
Despite Umkhwenyana weMpopoma being a Zimbabwean music legend alongside Oliver Mtukudzi and Thomas Mapfumo, he just decided to cut ties with the Zimbabwean music scene.
Unlike Majaivana, the godfather of Chimurenga music Thomas Mapfumo, who interestingly like Majee is also in self-imposed exile in the United States of America, has kept in touch with his fan base.
Though the award-winning composer and brilliant vocalist has turned his back on his music fans, Majaivana remains very popular. Copies of his pirated music still flood the streets of Bulawayo.
Two years ago, fans mostly from Zimbabwe organised what was known as the “Petition to Get Lovemore Majaivana out of Retirement”.
The petition was on the social networking site Facebook where thousands of fans registered their revered affection for the man who is regarded as arguably the most talented musician to emerge from the southern region.
From the look of things the Isono Sami hit-maker appears to be in no hurry to end his 12-year stay in the United States of America amid reports that many music promoters have tried in vain to lure him back home.