Tongai Moyo laid to rest, Minister Shamu hijacks funeral

Thousands of people thronged Tongai’s rural home to bid farewell to one of the country’s distinguished Sungura musician.

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Relatives and friends described the late musician as a brave and hardworking man who always managed to put a smile despite the fact that cancer was destroying him.

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The Minister of Information Communication Technology, Mr Nelson Chamisa said the late musician was a unifier who managed to bring the nation together through his music while Albert Nyathi urged the senior band members of Utakataka Express to remain united and give Tongai’s son, Peter all the support he needs to lead the band.

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Peter Moyo has taken over the reigns as the front man of the Utakataka Express following the death of his father.

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In searing Zhombe heat, they arrived on foot, bicycles, donkey-drawn carts, cars and buses.

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Just as they trooped to Tongai Moyo’s concerts in life, thousands of Zimbabweans – young and old, rich and poor — flocked to his rural home on Tuesday to bury their hero, who died of cancer last Saturday aged 43.

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Some clambered on trees, others rode on the back of trailers and the young hung from the shoulders of their parents as every inch of this rural real estate was contested by the several thousand present.

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Moyo’s wife, Miniehle, had watched helplessly as the Samanyemba star battled non-Hodgkins Lymphoma, finally succumbing at Harare’s St Anne’s Hospital on Saturday night.

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As she fought bouts of tears on Tuesday, her pain would have been eased by the unstinting support of Deputy Prime Minister Thokozani Khupe, herself a cancer sufferer who had become friends with Moyo.

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If anyone understood what she was going through, and the emotional scars of living with someone with an indeterminate but short life expectancy, then that would be Khupe.

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Support also came from gospel singer Olivia Charamba, who has been with her every step of the way.

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Her husband, Pastor Charles Charamba, delivered a moving prayer before Moyo’s white casket with gold handles was lowered into the ground – his final resting place after a very public three-year battle with the disease.

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Fellow musicians Somandla Ndebele, Albert Nyathi, Kapfupi, Sulumani Chimbetu, Leonard Zhakata, Alick Macheso and Chase Skuza all followed proceedings with heartfelt dignity. Some of the stars collaborated on a rendition of Moyo’s ‘Zvinoita Murudo’.

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Nyathi then delivered a poignant poem, ending with the line: “We thought he was on his way to full recovery, but God had his way.”

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But it was the performance of Moyo’s Utakataka Express band that had some in the crowd reaching for their tissues, as realisation dawned on everyone present that that the apprentices were alone, their master gone.

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Information Technology Minister Nelson Chamisa and Information Minister Webster Shamu joined Khupe in emphasising Moyo’s range of friends and fans.

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Funeral hijacker Webster Shamu urged music promoters and fans to back Moyo’s son, Peter, who is set to become the new leader of the band.

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