Jenaguru Arts Centre is honouring departed musicians with special tombstones for their contribution to the music industry.
The project, which had been shelved for some years due to various challenges, was recently given a new lease of life and late musicians to be honoured in the next few months include Biggie Tembo, Tineyi Chikupo, Chiwoniso Maraire and Robson Banda.
Jenaguru Arts Centre director Clive Malunga said there was a long list of artistes whose graves were not in good shape and they wanted to show their respect to the departed singers through erecting admirable tombstones on their graves.
Malunga said it had become a common trend to have sad stories about the demise of music legends and Jenaguru wanted to paint a different picture.
“It is not a good picture when musicians are portrayed as paupers that cannot have decent resting places. I saw some bad images of graves of our music celebrities and we are trying our best to change the sights. We should assist each other in life and in death as artistes. I believe there is more to the stories and history that we leave behind than the music that we churn out,” said Malunga.
“It has been Jenaguru’s mission to assist fellow musicians over the past years. We work with artistes from all walks of life and our mission is to have good relations with everyone we work with. We worked with most of the late artistes and we will always honour them. Some of them did not get decent burials and we just want to make their graves respectable.”
So far, Jenaguru Arts Centre has donated tombstones for musicians who include Solomon Skhuza, James Chimombe, Tobias Areketa, Leonard “Picket” Chiyangwa, Jordan Chataika, Susan Mapfumo and Charles Mapika.
“We are now working on the next list of beneficiaries and this month we are making tombstones for Tineyi Chikupo and Biggie Tembo. We have talked to the families and we have seen it fit to accord the late musicians great respect. It is a big statement to everyone. We have to honour our heroes.
“If we do not honour each other as artistes, no one will honour us,” said Malunga.
Malunga said he was happy with the cooperation they had received from families of late musicians.
He is working with Onias Mahachi from National FM to do research and reach out to relatives of the late musicians.
“We have worked well with Mr Mahachi and the families have been cooperating. I am happy that our programme is going on very well. The list is very long, but we will do our best. We have visited grave-sites of many of the musicians and some of the sights are really bad. This is not the legacy that we want as musicians.”
A member of Tembo’s family said they were touched by Jenaguru Arts Centre’s assistance.
“They approached us and said they want to assist. Tembo was a big musician and he deserved great honour. We did our best as a family, and we are glad that someone in the arts industry has seen it fit to assist us. We are proud of the legacy that he left and honouring him in death will show that his music lives forever,” said the family member.
Malunga said they wish to hold various tomb unveiling ceremonies in August when most families conduct rituals to remember their departed relatives.
The singer worked with many musicians when he hosted the Jenaguru Music Festival that hosted singers from across the country in a music ceremony that used to light up Gwanzura Stadium with all-night festivities.
He has continued to groom talent and facilitated exchange programmes between Zimbabwe and Japan. Jenaguru Arts Centre has also groomed various young traditional artistes. Currently, the centre is assisting the late John Chibadura’s sons who are recording an album that is expected next month.