Constance van Niekerk
We shall always remember music’s fallen heroes who are too numerous to mention, we shall forever be grateful for the young lives they inspired and every life they touched with the melodies they sang, every song forever in our hearts, every moment treasured by families and fans alike. May their souls rest in eternal peace.
Peter Mathonsi, is one such young life inspired by Zimbabwe’s Sungura fallen hero Fanuel Tazvida, better known in the music industry as System Tazvida, who passed away on the 4th of February 1998.
Peter was born in 1987 in the District of Chiredzi in Zimbabwe. A very small district put on the map by Hippo Valley Estate, popularised by its sugar-cane production. The majority of its inhabitants are Shangani speaking.
Peter was surely born to be a performer. He talks passionately about music, “I was born with music in my blood, from a tender age of 5, I would follow the sound of music till I get to the source. I would walk alone as far as 10 km just to be where the music is being played.”
“If I heard System Tazvida’s music while my mother was talking to me I would tell her to immediately keep quiet so I could listen to my musical hero. I love System Tazvida’s music. I know every song he sang and I have all his albums.’
Peter started writing his own songs at the age of 13, “I still have the book I wrote in,” he laughs, “unfortunately, none of the songs were ever recorded.
In early 2004, Peter’s love for music drove him out of secondary school where he was the leader of the music club to join Four Lions Band, an army band in Masvingo. His father was not amused. He sent an army of his own to rescue him from the madness and back to school. His father’s friends brought him to South Africa later that same year where his father was residing. His father immediately sent him for a course in Radio, Cell phone and T.V technician. Later on, Peter trained as a CCTV Technician and is currently employed as one in one of Johannesburg’s malls.
In 2010, Peter decided to follow in his hero’s footsteps and released a 6 track album, ‘Murhangi wendlela’ a Shangani title meaning in Shona, “Muzivi wenzira” and in English, “the one who knows the way” the album was done in Venda and Shangani. Curiously, there is no song with the title of the album. “Yes, that’s true, but on song number 6, ‘Hipfune Tatani’ I sing, ‘murhangi wendlela hiwena tatane’,” said Peter. “It just means the album is a way paver and also a plea to God to show me the way.” His album unfortunately did not do well on the market.
Peter did not only play lead and rhythms guitar on all the tracks on the album, but he was the lead singer as well.
“The album was inspired by true events in my life. I lost my mother in 2006, my father in 2007 and I also lost four of my siblings. Now it’s only me and my two sisters left. I experienced a lot of hardships, that is why I decided to release my first album,” said an almost tearful Peter.
Peter was not discouraged as in the middle of October this year he tried his luck in music again and released a 7 track rhumba-sungura album, Volume 2 Nzveda-Nzveda. Again, he plays the lead guitar and lead singer. Peter is very optimistic that this time around, his album will throw him in the right direction in following in his hero’s footsteps. The album is being marketed by Easy Road To Fame, Johannesburg and distributed by Music of Africa.
Two songs on the album, the title track and ‘Zinyeke-Nyeke’ are sung in Shona while the others in his mother tongue, Shangani.
Misava ya hela (The world is coming to an end) is the first song on the album. “This song basically just says that the world is coming to an end and preachers must preach the Word in truth and they should let everyone know that the world is coming to an end. It says, ‘we have seen all the signs that were written in the Bible’.
Peter who is now divorced wrote Nzveda-Nzveda for his then wife telling her how much he misses her whilst he was living in Johannesburg while she was in Zimbabwe. This song is a reality of how a lot of married couples are living in Zimbabwe because of the economic situation there and unfortunately this set up has seen a lot of marriages breaking up as also with the case with Peter and his wife.
‘Van’hanyana vosaseka’ is the third song on the album and it means ‘beautiful girls’. Peter explains, “The song is about a guy who is looking for a girlfriend, in the song I am saying, ‘all the girls who think they are beautiful raise your hands so that the guy can choose.’”
His separation with his wife led to another song, mama Rhiva, his son’s name is Rhivalelo and Darlie, a song about a wife who starts behaving loosely, not like a married woman should, coming home late and being disrespectful to her husband. Zinyeke-Nyeke also talks about an unhappy man in marriage saying that he saw it even before he got married that his marriage was not going to last. The song says that other women protect their marriages with love, but this certain woman is foolish and has no-one to blame for the breaking of her marriage but herself.
Peter’s band is called Wendlati Sounds, Peter explains, “Wendlati means lightning. My surname also means lightning or thunder so since the two are related, I decided to call my band lightning as I didn’t like the idea of using my surname for the name of my band.”
Peter has a lot of potential and great deal of passion. If he has the right mentor, this young man will definitely go places. He has the right attitude and is currently planning some live shows in Johannesburg and Limpopo. He has performed in his hometown of Chiredzi and for this young man inspired by the late System Tazvida, the sky is the limit.
His advice to his fellow aspiring and up coming musicians is, “Never give up, stay focused and reach for your dreams”
Could this be a new king of Sungura in the making?
Written by Constance van Niekerk for The Southern Times http://www.southerntimesafrica.com