Shame and fame, Alice Mbewe recounts how she inspired Sulu’s song

SPORTING a green top and a colourful wrapper, Alice Mbewe and other farm workers at Garika Farm are busy applying fertiliser in one of the tobacco fields situated along the Karoi-Tengwe road.

BY JAIROS SAUNYAMA

Alice Mbewe and her husband Peter Munhava

Alice Mbewe and her husband Peter Munhava

Two of her children, Denzel (5) and Nathan (four months), are playing with the mud, with others at the far end of the field waiting for their mother — a celebrity in her own right — to finish up the remaining lines before they retire for a break.

In a patriarchal society, the 29-year-old woman has become one of the most popular people in Karoi and other areas, following her presumed “recklessness” that resulted in sungura sunger, Sulumani Chimbetu releasing a song titled Alice Mbewe.

A woman who loses a child, particularly at a public place, is looked down upon, but with Mbewe, it is a different case altogether.

Her recklessness has yielded something positive, an entertaining song that has resulted in many not even caring to know what inspired the track.

The song, off Sulu’s latest album Jamboree, has become an instant hit on the local scene.

The song is based on a true story and talks of a minor, who is stranded after her mother abandoned her while enjoying dendera music during a show held at Dugane Farm last year.

Sulu announced on stage, asking the revellers if there was anyone who was missing a child.

In a bid to effectively spread the message, Sulu sang about it, and Mbewe emerged from the crowd and reunited with her daughter, Talent.

NewsDay recently tracked Mbewe to Tengwe, a farming area in Karoi, where she opened up on her life experiences among other issues. It was easy for the news team to fish her out, as she is known by everyone, including young children.

“Everyone here knows me, Karoi, Hurungwe and even Kariba. The track has put my name in the spotlight. I hear even in Harare people are eager to see the real Alice Mbewe,” she said.

Despite boasting of popularity, the memory of losing her daughter in a public place still haunts ger. Tragically, three-year-old Talent died a few weeks after Sulu launched the album.

“I am not at peace. The whole thing is haunting me. My daughter, who got lost on January 1, 2016, during Sulu’s show at Dugane, is no more. She is not here with me, but God will heal me. My daughter succumbed to pneumonia at Karoi (District) Hospital on December 19 last year,” she says, with tears streaming down her cheeks.

“On December 17, she started crying and convulsing at the same time and we took her to a local clinic before she was transferred to Karoi Hospital.”

Mbewe, who is also a well-known dancer, said sometimes she is troubled by the fact that it is her recklessness that gave birth to the song Alice Mbewe.

“As a mother, I was reckless on the day in question and each time I hear the track, I feel ashamed. I was with my friends at the back of the bar dancing, when Sulu shouted from the stage that someone had lost a child,” she recalled.

“That is when I found out that Talent was missing and I had to get her from Sulu. I was reckless, and each time I am reminded of that through the song.”

Asked whether she is willing to be part of Sulu’s entourage and take part in the song when the dendera musician performs live, Mbewe said she was more than ready, as people needed to see the real Alice Mbewe.

“I am willing to join Sulu on stage when he performs the song. The real Alice Mbewe is here. Some think I do not exist. Recently, some people from Kariba visited this area to see me. they wanted to see Alice Mbewe,” she said.

“I am looking forward to benefiting from the song. The last time Sulu came here, he gave me a debit card with $500.
I am still to claim the money, but soon, I will travel to Harare to redeem it.”

NewsDay was lucky to meet Mbewe’s husband, Peter Munhava (31), a tractor driver at Garika Farm, who also gave his side of the story.

Munhava said, at first, he was disturbed that his wife’s recklessness had seen her gaining fame.

“Life is full of surprises. As a husband, I was disturbed to learn that my wife’s mistakes brought this. But there is nothing to do. I support my wife all the way. If Sulu wants my wife to feature on the song during his performances, I give the nod. But I just want to be there as well, by Alice’s side,” he said.

“My wife is getting popular each day. In the kombis and at night clubs here, people are always talking of Alice Mbewe. I hope we are going to benefit something from all this.”

Dugane Farm owner, who hosted the gig at his farm bar, Hashmon Matemera, confirmed that Mbewe was given a debit card and would soon assist her withdraw the money.

“Alice was given a debit card and I will assist her to redeem the money. She has the card and if I fail, my wife will take Alice to Harare for the money. We are happy that the song has become a hit and that it all started at Dugane,” he said.

“The last time Sulu came here, he had to perform the song several times, as the crowd asked for more. Some had to take their children to the stage, it was messy.”

Mbewe was born in Zvarai village in Hurungwe. She relocated to Garika Farm in Tengwe, Karoi, in 2014, where she was employed as a farm labourer.

Orchestra Dendera Kings publicist, Joe “Local” Nyamungoma said they would assist Mbewe in getting medical assistance as well as buying food for her.

“Elsewhere, we normally get paid for mentioning or sing someone’s name, but in Alice’s case, it is tricky because she cannot afford that. However, we are the ones who are going to assist her,” he said.

“We will assist her with medical facilities as well as ensuring that she gets food for her family. The last time we went there, we gave her something, since she is struggling to put food on the table.”

Nyamungoma said they had not considered inviting her to some of their shows, but said she would feature on the song’s video to be shot soon.