Zimbabwe: Death Stalked Arts Industry in 2021

the local entertainment sector was dealt a huge blow with the passing on of major players who included poets, promoters, actors, visual artistes, television and theatre creatives, writers and musicians.

As we bid farewell to the year 2021 in 16 days time, there is need to remember those influential stars whose talent impacted many people's lives along the year and whose untimely deaths impacted the country.

Thompson Dondo (promoter)

Businessman cum arts promoter Thompson Dondo died on January 2 after suffering from kidney failure and was buried in Hokonya Village, Chivhu.

Dondo was the chief executive officer for car rental Impala Car Rental Group.

He was 48 and survived by his wife Matirasa and three children Ngonidzashe, Ruvarashe and Mudiwa.

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Dondo was well known for pushing his son's career Ngonidzashe, affectionately known as King 98, who has collaborated with giants such as Nasty C, Zlatan Ibile, LayLizzy and Davido, among others.

Dennis Wilson (radio personality)

Radio personality Dennis Wilson died on January 6 at the age of 66 at his home in Alexandra Park, Harare, after a short illness.

The ZBC's Radio 3 DJ and reggae icon was born Delroy Wilson in Kingston, Jamaica.

Wilson started working for the then Radio 3 at the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) in the 1980s and was a renowned reggae DJ and producer in Jamaica, United Kingdom and Zimbabwe.

Lazarus Takawira (sculptor)

Prominent sculptor Lazarus Takawira succumbed to Covid-19 on January 13.

He was 69.

Born in Nyanga in 1952, Takawira celebrated women through his sculptures.

Much of his career was themed on the woman figure and he openly voiced his love for the women in his life.

From the late 1970s, Lazarus committed himself to stone sculpture and together with his brothers they took a different trajectory from other artists, favouring the hardest of stones like marble and dolomite and leaving much of it in its natural state.

His work was also influenced by Frank McEwen, the first director of the National Gallery of Zimbabwe.

Takawira later took that to heart and enjoyed giving Shona titles to some of his sculptures like "Muroora", "Ambuya" and "Amai".

In between his journey as an artist, Takawira briefly joined the police force and later permanently settled down as a stone artist and became successful.

As an international artist, he travelled to different countries and exhibited his works. Some of his works were permanently collected by institutions like the World Bank, The African Art Collection Museum in Paris, as well as The Prince Charles Collection in London.

Soul Jah Luv (musician)

Zimdancehall chanter Soul Jah Love, real name Soul Musaka, died on February 16 at Mbuya Dorcas Hospital.

He was 31.

The "Pamamonya" hitmaker was pronounced dead upon arrival at the hospital.

According to the doctor's report, Soul Jah Love had no pulse upon admission and his sugar levels was high.

He was declared liberation hero and was buried at Warren Hills Cemetery.

Rashid Jogee (visual artist)

Veteran visual artist Rashid Jogee died on the 4th of March after a short illness.

He was 70.

Rashid was meant to be honoured as a visual arts legend on March 27 together with other arts legends, but fate would see him elevated to higher glory before the date of the conferment.

The gong by the NACZ was handed over to Rashid's brother by the Chief Director in the Ministry of Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation Dr Benson Martins Dube.

Anne Nhira (actress)

Popular former Studio 263 actress Anne Nhira, who acted as Vimbai Jari in the soap, died on March 8.

She was 38.

Her brother Juan Nhira said she died from injuries sustained during a robbery in Bedfordview, an affluent suburb in South Africa where she had relocated to.

Nhira was awarded State assisted funeral.

Friday Mbirimi (jazz crooner)

Zimbabwean jazz legend Friday Mbirimi, who was part of a popular township jazz outfit, the Mbare Trio, died on April 6.

Mbirimi's death came barely a year after his brother Lovejoy's death who was also part of the jazz outfit.

Mbare Trio was made up of Friday Mbirimi, Lovejoy Mbirimi and William Kashiri.

Chocolate (dancer)

Dancer-cum-singer Melody "Chocolate" Musekiwa popularly known for her striking dance moves died on April 19 after succumbing to kidney failure.

Musekiwa, who was ex-wife to musician Rockford "Roki" Josphat, died at Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals in Harare.

She was 35 and is survived by her daughter Dawn (10).

Rutendo Tapiwa Chigudu

(theatre actress)

Multi-talented TV host, film actress and writer Rutendo Tapiwa Chigudu (35) collapsed and died on May 6 at Wits University in South Africa.

Chigudu was studying towards her Masters of Arts in Applied Drama at the university.

She worked for Patsime Trust, Almasi, Reps Theatre, Zimbabwe Women Writers Association, Star FM Radio, Sadc Arts Festival and ZB Bank.

Chigudu also worked for Nehanda Radio in various capacities in its formative years.

She had a popular column on the Nehanda Radio website ##RatedLoose with Rutendo Tapiwa Chigudu.

Never Gasho (musician)

Popular jazz musician Never Gasho, popularly known as Chief Mutota in showbiz, succumbed to Covid-19 on May 10 at his home in Karoi.

Tomato (comedian)

Mbare based prominent street comedian Lot Magarianzo, affectionately known as Tomato, died at the age of 29 on June 23.

According to a friend, Fantan, Tomato was hospitalised a week following a stroke, swollen legs and water in the heart.

Helen Lieros (visual artist)

Veteran visual artist Helen Lieros died on July 14 after a short illness. She was 80.

Helen was a visual artist par excellence, with several artworks on the permanent collection at the National Gallery of Zimbabwe.

Newton Cheza Chozengwa

(mbira player)

Popular gwenyambira Newton Cheza Chozengwa died on July 18 after a short illness. His friend and fellow mbira player Wilfred Nyamasvisva MaAfrika announced his death on social media.

Nyamasvisva is leader of the revered Mbira ensemble Mawungira Enharira.

Edronce Rukodzi (sculptor)

Top sculptor Edronce Rukodzi died on July 28.

Rukodzi, who was born in 1952 in Guruve succumbed to Covid-19 while in Guruve.

He rose to fame in the 90s when his works began to receive international attention, though his beginnings are traced back to the 1970s at Tengenenge.

He was introduced to sculpture by his close relative Henry Munyaradzi back then he used to sculpt during his spare time.

His work forms part of the permanent collection displayed at the Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport alongside works by great artists like Nicholas Mukomberanwa, Dominic Benhura and Agnes Nyanhongo.

Lynsey Chenai Mabwere


Talented dancer, choreographer and creative director Lynsey Chenai Lynn Mabwere died on November 2 en route to the hospital after having breathing problems.

She was 32.

Lynsey was part of the dance duo, Sheroes, together with Kudzanai Kandiwona.

She was nominated for the Outstanding Female Dancer Award by the National Arts Merits Award (NAMA). She also performed in South Africa and China over the years.

Cuthbert Maziwa

(arts administrator, musician)

Death continued to stalk the arts sector this year even as recent as Tuesday this week when former Murewa Culture Centre manager Cuthbert Kuchi Maziwa (67) died after a short illness.

During his career with National Arts Council of Zimbabwe, Maziwa held various roles and was at the forefront of turning around the Murehwa Arts Culture Centre into renowned art and cultural heritage hub in Zimbabwe housing the Jerusarema Mbende, which was proclaimed Inscribed on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2008.

Born on October 9, 1954 in Murehwa, Maziwa founded the Rock and Roll outfit Eye Q in the mid-1970s with his schoolmate Herrington Nyamariva on bass, Phineas Marumahoko on drums and vocals and Solomon Chiweshe on keyboard and vocals.

With Maziwa on lead guitar, the group became very popular after the release of "Please the Nation," a political song that became a hot-selling single.

The group went on to release other notable seven singles including "I am selfish", "Lonely", "Widow" and "Making a life out of Music".

Maziwa ventured into arts administration on the 1st of September 1994 he joined the NACZ as the Projects and Training Officer at Head Office.

In June 2007 he was appointed the Principal Programmes Officer and in May 2010 he became the manager for Murehwa Culture Centre, a position he held until his retirement on the 31st of December in 2016.

Maziwa was an accomplished artiste and among his many achievements he was famed for founding the globally profiled music arts organisation, Music Crossroads, which has now been turned into a full-time music and arts school.

He also spent a greater part of his life coordinating and curating the Mashonaland East Cultural Arts Festival (MECUFA) which ran concurrently with the Jerusarema Mbende Festival.

Maziwa possessed natural expertise in creating, developing and curating arts ideas into living creative testimonies and his name will for years resonate with the Zimbabwean arts sector as he was an active participant for decades as a multi-genre musician, artiste, singer, acclaimed guitarist, accomplished arts administrator and a veteran Arts and Culture Festival Curator.

After retiring from the NACZ, Maziwa founded the National Training and Conference of Arts in Zimbabwe (NATCAZ), a non-governmental organisation dedicated to the growth of arts and cultural industries in Zimbabwe which he led as its executive director.

Artmotion S.Africa

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