Constance van Niekerk,
We are living in an era where the youth adopt anything Western. Instead of embracing their roots, culture and heritage, they run and try to hide from who they really are. Some of them can hardly speak their own mother language. It is refreshing to find a young man who acknowledges who he is, not only a proud African but a proud Zimbabwean as well. It is evident in the way he dresses, the languages he speaks and sings in – a true son of the soil. His name is Maizon Tazvitya, the new kid on the block.
Maizon was born on the 27th of July in 1983 in the high density suburb of Dzivarasekwa, Harare. He attended Courtney Selous and St Johns Chikwaka schools. Maizon is the third born in a family of six. He has one brother and four sisters.
He joined the art world at the tender age of 9, “I loved art from a very tender age. One of my sisters used to sing in the church choir. She inspired me and I developed a passion for music.” He goes on to explain, “While in grade four one of my teachers, Mr Madombwe, now late made me join the CHIPAWO family at their centre at our school.”
CHIPAWO is a Shona word which means ‘give also’ or in this case: ‘Children Performing Arts Workshop’ . Its members are as young as four years old. They are children from all background and abilities and at CHIPAWO; they learn various artistic skills such as dancing, singing, playing music instruments, acting and many others.
In 1996 while at secondary school, Maizon was chosen to be part of a group called Harare Youth Theatre. It was a group formed from the CHIPAWO youth. Eventually, he became a CHIPAWO centre instructor.
“When you become an instructor, you are given a centre to manage the activities, implement and monitor according to CHIPAWO syllabus,” he elaborates.
From 2002 to 2005, Maizon was at Seke Teachers’ College studying to become a primary school teacher. His love for music continued throughout his college days as while at college, he started a band that was called Nyungwe. He however continued performing with Harare Youth Theatre. It was on one of their performances in Bulawayo in 2003 that he got a chance to meet with the Nama and Zima award-winning Qaya music group Afrika Revenge, the group that rocked us in 2004 with their hit song ‘Wanga’. This was the beginning of a relationship that saw Taz, the other part of Afrika Revenge being Maizon’s producer.
After graduating from Seke Teachers’ College, Maizon went on to study for a Diploma in Ethnomusicology at the College of Music. Maizon explains that, “ethnomusicology is the study of peoples’ music, especially traditional of different cultures.”
In 2005, Maizon was invited by Zimbabwean music giant Oliver ‘Tuku’ Mtukudzi to be part of Pakare Paye ensemble as a vocalist and percussionist. He got an opportunity to work with the living legend himself and the late Sam Mtukudzi, the late Matha Badza among others. In 2007, he decided to explore the art world and joined Pamuzinda Dance Company where he got the priviledge to work with Amakhosi Theatre. Maizon has also worked in various capacities under The Save the Children umbrella with the late Tisa Chifunyise (a talented writer and wife of a man who wears many hats which include veteran play writer, choreographer, director among others, Stephen Chifunyise).
In 2011, Maizon started composing his own songs. Although some of his compositions are in English, most of them are in Shona, ChiChewa and Ndebele. By October 2012, his debut album, ‘Ziya’ (Sweat) was ready to be recorded. The great eight track album was released on the 15th of January this year.
Although Maizon sings Afro-Jazz, he calls his music Guruuswa (tall grass). Guruuswa is the name of the legendary origin of some Shona tribes before they came to present day Zimbabwe. The land was very rich and had lush vegetation. The name symbolises how Maizon’s music is rich with the African culture, tradition, rhythm, lavish African beat and has an Afro-centric tempo.
His songs are about togetherness, forgiveness and common understanding. Some of the songs on the album are ‘Majurumbwe’ a radio favourite at t he moment in the country is a mixture of Shona and English. Maizon explains, “Majurumbwe is a Shona name for flying ants which symbolises the coming of the new season.” The ants are indeed a sign of the beginning and progression of the rainy season. They symbolise rebirth.
‘Ngiyathembisa’, (I promise) a melodious love song with a feel of jazz and mbaqanga, sung in Shona and Ndebele. It is a promise of never-ending love. Another track on the album is ‘Rerukweza’, a story of a widow who is HIV positive and whose husband had died of Aids related disease. She is giving her final wish that at her funeral mourners must eat ‘sadza rerukweza’ not drink ‘hwezviyo’ because when they get drunk they will not act responsibly.
Other tracks on the album are ‘Hombihororo’, ‘Don’t Need’, ‘Tears’ a Shona track with an English chorus which discourages parents to fight and have arguments infront of the children., ‘Watikumanisa’ (a ChiChewa song) and lastly my favourite ‘Babie Tonight’ another love song that is done in Shona and English.
Maizon who plays acoustic guitar sings with his band Ancient Tribes which is comprised of the talented songbird Ruth Mbangwa, Barbra Kativhu, Tinashe Mandizha (keyboards), Edmore Marara (bass guitar), Tawanda Sande (lead guitar) and last but not least Tonderai Matanda (drums).
Ancient Tribes performed in Hwange and Victoria Falls last year for the World Aids Day commemorations in a bid to educate their fans on the HIV/Aids pandemic.