Tendai Dembo: My father’s music will live on. Born Tendai Dembo on 8 August 1987 in Harare Zimbabwe, Tendai is the second born in a family of three siblings of the late Sungura musical icon Kwangwari Gwaendepi popularly known as Leonard Dembo or Musorowenyoka.
Tendai is doing music full time and whilst his brother Morgan does music on part-time basis and their sister is living in South Africa. “Apparently music industry has not been an easy task like what most people think, ” said Tendai. Morgan Dembo a brother to Tendai is the firstborn and they have a sister Fenistia being the last. They were raised by their mother single-handedly and grew up in Belvedere suburb of Harare.
He cited the lack of support from well-established musicians who came after him. He said a lot of them do not support upcoming musicians who want to learn the ropes. He went on to say in order for one to be a successful musician they need a lot of support financially and materially and that it was not a stroll in the park. Tendai so far has produced to date three albums namely Kupakwashe -2014 Mushando- 2016 and Dzinde- 2019
Naturally, music runs in the family’s blood starting from their late father Leonard Dembo who started singing at a very tender age in Chirumhanzu. Leonard Dembo later died on 9 April 1996 when Tendai was just only eight years and as a child he knew nothing about how to strum a guitar besides playing with toys and wire cars. Thank God, he got mentorship and lessons on how to sing and play the guitar from Sungura musical maestro Alick Macheso who taught him most of the things he is doing right now.
Tendai Dembo’s journey in music has not been so rosy. It has been so rough and full of painful moments because he did not have the opportunity to be grafted into the hard hat music industry.
Tendai’s argument is that he is actually doing a great job and for people to compare him with his late father that would be very unfair because his father was in his class of his own and he had his unique genre of music. He went on to say that his late father was so much talent and was gifted with a silk voice and was excellent in arranging music.
He said that he can never be his father and that when his father died he was still young to grasp the skills which his dear father possessed. However, he was happy that he managed to put together a band which almost faced collapse after twenty fours years. He appealed to Zimbabwean musical fans to follow and listen to his music.
On piracy, Tendai Dembo said the government must put very harsh laws on piracy so as to curb this scourge which has killed most musical artists who are now suffering and can’t afford to reap what they have sweated for. He said piracy has been a cause of concern and hindrance to the growth of music in the country and was benefiting the wrong people.
In his musical journey, finances, transport and equipment are the main obstacles which he is currently facing and they have been the greatest impediment and straining his budget as they could not go for rehearsals.
It got worse during this Covid19 pandemic and has always been living from hand to mouth and they could not make shows due to the outbreak of this virus. He said he was getting just a little from well-wishers so as to eke out a living. He went on to say that he did not have the opportunity to expose himself even when it comes to performances as he could rehearse on stage before a performance.
“Resources are so scarce and most promoters want to work with already established musicians and the sponsorship which has been given to some legends’ children and we did not get anything from that fund” , he said.
“We don’t have any source of income and we are surviving through well-wishers who sometimes give us money to buy food”, he bemoaned. Tendai said the best assistance he can get is to be empowered through being linked to sponsors who will help him to travel and buy some other equipment. Some of the equipment which he is using is also hired and need to be paid for.
Tendai said artists are mirrors of the society and they are there to entertain, educate and inform people. He appealed to national music organisers to also include him when they come up with national musical galas or shows so that he could showcase his skills.
He said, “As a musical artist, it must be known that music is diverse and music should unite people rather than break or tear them apart. Artists should not take political sides and not to be aligned to any political party as this will kill their musical career. He went on to say that, artists should remain within their core business and duty to play music and send the word to everyone regardless of their political affiliations”.
Tendai Dembo vowed to keep his father’s legacy alive by focusing on his career and appealed to his fans not to lose hope. He tried to work with the only sirviving member of Barura Express Innocent Mjintu whose working conditions were not favourable as he was demanding 70% of the share per every show.
“As a father figure I expected him to work together with him in unison but it did not go according to plan” , he said. He thanked Alick Macheso for teaching him and showing him the way. He brought out the gift in him and he is so mature and that he will always be grateful to the sungura maestro.
Driven by a nostalgic yearning for how he remembers his late father Tendai has vowed to work very hard and make a name for himself. Tendai said he has never been involved in any beer-drinking
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binges neither taken any form of alcohol nor smoked any cigarette or dagga.
Source – Bulawayo24