A man in his late forties is comfortably sitting in a sofa at his home. Clad in a jacket to flee from the cold weather of Chipinge, the man produces a long smile upon the entrance of this reporter.
He stands up to welcome and offers the guest a place to sit. As soon as he realises that his visitor is comfortable in his seat, the host gives a traditional greeting. The host is none other than Mr Simoyi Mhlanga; who is arguably Chipinge’s music elder.
Mr Simoyi Mhlanga is the leader of a seven member sungura outfit called Mutserendende Movement. The band has a base in Chipinge’s Gaza Township. Mr Simoyi Mhlanga has been in the showbiz before Zimbabwe gained its independence.
This makes one wonder why the musician is still unpopular in Zimbabwe sungura circles despite his curriculum vitae being pregnant with experience.
“I started playing music in 1979 when I was still in primary school. I was playing for Gaza Jazz Band fronted by Ishmael Munyibvu.
“When Mr Munyibvu transferred to Hot Springs in Chimanimani in 1993, he renamed the band Chipinge Hot Sounds to incorporate names of the two places,” said Mhlanga.
In 1996 that is when the sungura elder managed to form his outfit.
“I went to form Mutserendende Movement in 1996 and released a single called Dhongi naMbudzi which had a flip side called Kufamba usiku. The band split in 1999 and our splinter group named itself Chikore Big Tree.
“Despite that set back, I managed to assemble a new team and released my debut eight track album named Ruva rangu. It didn’t do quite well on the local market and we soldiered on,” added Mhlanga.
The softly spoken Mhlanga went on to release three seven-track albums named Moyo Muti in 2006, Upfumi hwenyika in 2009, and Musapedza Nguva in 2018. This year, he has released a six track album named Anokuda.
Currently, Mutserendende Movement comprises of Simoyi Mhlanga on lead guitar and vocals, Gift Charles Musaengana on bass, Previous Muyengi Jambaya on bass, Morgan Maposa on sub rhythm, Bvunzai Jomutale on main rhythm, Exllyward Kahumbu on drums and Tarzen Sithole on drums as well.
In his musical journey, Simoyi Mhlanga was the mentor of musicians whose roots are in Chipinge who include controversial Jacob Moyana, South African based Clever “Mapower” Maposa and session drummer Stewart Citro Dhobha.
Although the Mutserendende leader hasn’t produced a hit locally, his music is very popular our neighbouring country, Mozambique. Mr Simoyi Mhlanga has a full music kit, recording equipment and is the owner of Mutserendende Studios . He aspires to promote young talent.
“I want to support young talent in Chipinge since we experienced problems of promoters who shunned Chipinge talent. When I was direly in need of support, promoters focused much on established artists. They didn’t even give us a platform to curtain raise for the big names,” he said.
Mr Simoyi Mhlanga attained secondary education through correspondence and is now a second year student of Bachelor of Science in Community Development. He was a Town Planner for Chipinge Town Council for 13 years and is now the managing director of Mutserendende Contractors which does water and sewer reticulation.
The sungura elder is a devoted Christian and a member of Church of Christ. He is also a behaviour change facilitator with Family AIDS Caring Trust (FACT).