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Zimbabwe Loses Three Prominent Musicians This Month

The past three weeks have not been good for the Zimbabwean music industry, which lost several prominent musicians, including Edwin Hama, who wrote and performed the hit song “Dreams of Hope.”

Also gone are Ndinoda Akanaka and Philani Dube. From Harare, Voice of America Zimbabwean Service music critic Derek Moyo reports on Zimbabwe’s cultural losses.

Amon Mvula, after a long illness, was the first to die. He made his name on the music scene with the song “Ndinoda Akanaka,” about how every man wanted a beautiful woman in his life.

Mvula started his career spinning bicycle rims in Harare. As a street entertainer, he could spin a wheel on his hands, belt buckle and face, delivering an energetic and much-admired performance.

At the time of his death in South Africa, his musical style combined Zimbabwean rhythms with Venda lyrics, winning him two South African music awards. He will be most remembered for his album 'African Rhumba.” Shortly before his death he released a final album called 50/50.

A week after Mvula's death, guitarist Philani Dube died. Dube, known to many as Mzala, was one of the longest serving members of Oliver Mtukudzi's Black Spirits band. He’s said to have died in Chitungwiza while undergoing treatment for tuberculosis. Fewer than 50 people attended his funeral in Bulawayo.

A spokesperson for the family told the Herald newspaper that most of his friends and relatives were not aware of the funeral arrangements.

Dube's family was reported to have expressed disappointment that Mtukudzi did not appear at the funeral, saying that the superstar had neglected a long-serving musician. VOA was unable to obtain comment from Mtukudzi, who was said to be in South Africa on business. But his manager, Sam Mataure, told the media that Mtukudzi helped Dube's family with fuel to transport his remains to Bulawayo.

Clive Mono Mkundu, who joined the Black Spirits after Dube became too ill to tour with Mtukudzi, said Dube was a down-to-earth person.

One day after Dube died, more sad news: Edwin Celani Hamandawana, known to many as Edwin Hama, also passed away. He was best known for the songs “Asila Mali,” “Waiting for a new day” and “Dreams of a home.”

Hama was known as the “squatter ambassador” for his songs about the struggles of ordinary Zimbabweans. He was a member of the band Illanga before he went solo. After a number of hits, the musician suddenly disappeared. At the time of his death, he was on the verge of launching a comeback.

Poet and musician Chirikure Chirikure said he had been working with Hama for several months and that Hama was committed to making a comeback with the release of a greatest hits album. Chirikure also worked with Hama at the Harare International Festival of the Arts. Though Mvula, Dube and Hama will be sorely missed – their music lives on.