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Majaivana's love-hate relationship with Bulawayo

by Staff reporter
23 Oct 2022 at 09:15hrs | Views
BULAWAYO is a subject that runs like a thread through Lovemore Majaivana's extensive catalogue of music.

Perhaps, because he hails from the city, some might take it as given that Majaivana, with his unrivalled catalogue of hits, managed to win the lifelong affection of such a hard-to-please city.
For the average musician, Bulawayo is a desert, a creative wasteland where you are only as good as your last hit, and even that sometimes, is not good enough.

Majaivana however, is a deity, the hallowed shepherd whose hungry flock yearns for his return two decades after he left to graze on his own in the so-called greener pastures. However, Majaivana has another bow in his arrow as well. When he was at his creative best, Magee penned a few memorable loves songs dedicated to the city, songs that have over the years become emotional time capsules for those with a connection to the city.

For some, the songs help them reminisce about what once was, while for others the songs beckon towards a rosier future, where they can return to the Bulawayo, they left behind long back.

Who can forget Majaivana's lyrical delimitation of the city on Mkhwenyana, where he drew a clear indelible line between the eastern and western halves of the city, as the dilemmas a young man who finds love either in the "suburbs" or townships were laid bare.

According to Magee life was rosy for him when he found romance in his beloved "Mpoyez" (Mpopoma), where in the morning, he would only be woken up by requests for sugar, with a polite appeal for relish later in the day his remaining duty. In the suburbs however, a cash request would be made as soon as the sun hit his back and his troubles would only deepen as the sum requested would more than quadruple by the end of the day. Love was even costlier in the city's affluent apartments, emaFlatini, where nothing less than pricy sausage in the morning and premium cuts of chicken in the evening would do.

When Majaivana sang, he perhaps did not know that he had concocted an all-time classic that tugs at the heart of anyone that looks back at their beloved home town with a deep yearning. It is a timeless song, whose message is keenly felt even by the generation that has followed Majaivana. ‘If the city's industries can be revived', those in Harare and other cities say, ‘perhaps I can return and settle back in Bulawayo'. For all the purported lushness of the green pastures out there, the return home is a dream deferred but not thwarted for many an expatriate.

On Umoya Wami, Majaivana sang as the long-lost prodigal son, casting a longing look back at Bulawayo, waiting for the perfect conditions that will allow him to once again catch a glimpse of the now mythical smoke that bellows from the city's once busy industries. He did not sing like a man that was scorned by his first love, Bulawayo, but one who wanted to rekindle a romance whose flame, although hidden, still burnt brightly in his heart. He is a man whose body is trapped in one place, yet his spirit remains vibrant in Bulawayo.

From retrenchment to "hapless parents and brothers languishing in unemployment," Majaivana croons about it all in his unforgettable love letter to Bulawayo. On Angilamali, taken off Majaivana's last album Isono Sami, Majaivana still waxes lyrical about Bulawayo but is now clearly a weary man, whose soles have been worn out by the daily grind in Harare. It is the year 2000, the world did not end in an apocalypse at the end of the century, computers did not shut down because of the Y2K problem and Majaivana is tired.

He craves once again the warm embrace of his mother city, and wants once again to suckle from its warm breast.

In Harare where he resides, his mouth now smells, and he is tired of drinking opaque beer and some hideous brew called "nkantura". If only he had a few coins to take him back to Bulawayo, to once again drink clear, cold beer served at the city's famous shebeens and even go and watch his beloved Tshilamoya eMagumeni (Highlanders Football Club at Barbourfields stadium) perhaps he could return. Yet for all the love he professed in that song, and his mocking of the capital, where he said his music usually got more support, there's an underlying feeling among someone that Magee is the shepherd who abandoned his flock.

In the same song, Magee sounds an ominous warning. He has just returned from foreign countries, where the bread is cheap and the soup is free. Before Bulawayo had danced to that song for even a year, Majaivana had packed his bags and migrated to the United States. He has not returned since.
Surely, a man who professed his love for Bulawayo so loudly and so often, Majaivana would be tempted to get another of Bulawayo. Promoters in Bulawayo, say that despite large sums of money dangled in his face, Magee is reluctant to set foot in Bulawayo again, let alone on stage.

"He is incredibly adamant that he is not coming back to perform," Babongile Sikhonjwa, who has repeatedly tried to get Majaivana to return at least once, told Sunday Life. "I have not interacted with him directly but I have tried through intermediaries, those close to him like Albert Nyathi. Saimon Mambazo actually went to the US to present him with an award. He tried, we have tried and I believe that at one time Justice Maphosa offered him an incredible amount of money to come and perform but he refused.

"I'm not too sure if he doesn't want to perform anymore, or he is angry at Zimbabwe or he genuinely quit music because if he was active maybe we would have a few more songs from him coming out. We would probably have got a few collaborations as well but it does genuinely look like he quit music. But as I say that, we are never going to give up on trying to get him to come and perform again. We will never quit," he said.

According to Jeys Marabini, who promoted Majaivana's last show on November 20, 2000, Majaivana had kind of disillusionment with Bulawayo that can be compared to a man who loves his wife but realises that he has to divorce as their relationship is one-sided.
"Majaivana loves Bulawayo but what has always bothered him was how Bulawayo people never seemed to turn out in their numbers to support him, particularly in live shows. He told me about his show at a hall in Pelandaba where only "six people" turned up.

"He told me a lot of heartbreaking stories. But he loved Bulawayo because it had always uplifted him and because of work commitments, he had ended up in Harare. We have that challenge that people don't support and that does not mean that Majaivana does not love the city. When something is organised people tend to ignore it and they only realised the gap when he had left," he said.

Source - The Sunday News