VETERAN musician and songwriter Zex Manatsa, 78, succumbed to cancer yesterday afternoon.
The Tea Hobvu hit-maker died at Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals where he had been admitted as he was battling multiple myeloma, a cancer of plasma cells.
His son, Tendai, confirmed the news and said it was saddening for the family, fans and music fraternity.
“Yes, it’s true. He died this afternoon (yesterday) at Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals. Ma1,” said Tendai adding that they will announce the funeral arrangements soon.
Manatsa, who was the founder member of the Green Arrows Band, originally known as the Mambo Band began his musical career at the age of 15 in Mhangura.
At 17 years old, together with his brothers, they formed a band called Mambo Jazz Band before relocating to Bulawayo where he later formed the Green Arrows Band as the lead singer.
During his career spanning decades, Zex released many tracks which proved to be all-time hits keeping him top of Zimbabwe’s pop charts.
Some of his popular songs include “Tea Hobvu”, “Chipo Chiroorwa”, “Ndarota Ndina Mai”, “Kuwirirana Kwevanodanana”, “Bambo Mwakwatila”, “Vaparidzi Vawanda” and “Tamirireiko” among others.
Zex was the only musician who held a wedding at Rufaro Stadium where he attracted 50 000 people in 1979.
He was also part of the musicians who sang during the attainment of Independence in 1980 alongside the late reggae legend icon Bob Marley.
However, in 1984, the musician was involved in an accident that affected his musical career.
In 1994, Zex and his wife enrolled for theological training for a year and in 1998 they were ordained pastors by the Zaoga Church.
Last year, he was recognised as one of the recipients of the Nama [email protected] Awards for his consistent contribution to the development of the Zimbabwean music sector.
Besides music, he was popular among soccer fans after he sang a number of songs praising three of the country’s biggest football teams, Dynamos, Highlanders and CAPS United.
Following Zex’s death, government officials, the arts fraternity and his fans have been sending condolence messages.
National Arts Council of Zimbabwe director Nicholas Moyo said the nation has lost a great musician who was humble and talented.
“The Board Management and Staff of NACZ sends its sincerest condolences to Mrs Manatsa and family and joins the entire nation in mourning the death of one of the pioneers of township music,” he said.
“The death of Zex has once again robbed the nation of one of its most talented, celebrated and revered artists who inspired many musicians such as Oliver Mtukudzi, James Chimombe, Lovemore Majaivana, and Simon Chimbetu.
Manatsa was a uniquely talented individual who was not only concerned about his own musical career but also shared his talent with other musicians notably leading to the formation of the Sunrise Kwela Kings at Jairos Jiri Centre in Bulawayo where he advocated the inclusion of musical skills training,” wrote Moyo.
The NACZ director went on to state how Manatsa was passionate about the welfare of artists.
“Growing up in an era where people looked down on musicians, he advocated for the recognition of music as a serious profession.
In 1979, he made history and broke records when he curated his wedding at Rufaro Stadium with fans paying $1 each to witness the ceremony.
Rufaro Stadium was full to the brim with excited fans who had come to witness the amazing ‘Wedding of the Year’.”
Music producer and composer Clive ‘Mono’ Mukundu said he cherishes the moment he met Zex Manatsa and remembers vividly how he impacted him.
“We first met at a gospel concert held at State Lottery Hall.
The first thing he did was to hold both my hands and pray for me. He asked God to bless my fingers.
He then told me how he loved my performances and how I played the keyboard,” he said.
Gospel musician Charles Charamba described Zex as a fatherly figure.
“Baba Manatsa was more like my real father.
My biological father shared certain musical characteristics with him though my dad didn’t get to record.
He was such a cool man who used few words in conversations.
“My family and I respected him for many reasons, being an exemplary figure and not being ashamed to receive Jesus at a time when celebrity life in showbiz would not have allowed.
As a family man, he stood for his marriage and became a beacon that we learned from,” Charamba said.
Zex is survived by wife Stella, six children – Aaron, Tendai, Freedom, Shingirai, Green and Taku Zex (jnr) and several grandchildren.
Mourners are gathered at number 3564 Westminister, Sentosa, Mabelreign, Harare.
Article Source: The Chronicle