I am glad I have crafted a legacy for the young generation that will live and be remembered even when I pass on
By Royce Mapaike
OLD age is not a disease, it is strength and survivorship, triumph over all kinds of vicissitudes and disappointments, trials and illnesses, wrote Maggie Kuhn.
The statement is apt in describing the gift of long life that some people have. While some people usually grow frail with old age – others seem to gain more strength.
One of the few people, who have refused to be outdone by old age and a wizened body, is veteran gospel sensation Baba Mechanic Manyeruke whose energetic performances on stage remains the envy of the young.
Most of today’s newer artists cannot even match his performance standards and the dynamic, unsympathetic and ever-changing music industry seems to have failed to phase him out.
All what it means – therefore – is that his music has remained quite relevant.
“There is no secret to my success. I was born to be what I am and I simply reflect on it. I am simply an African and on stage I simply perfect my originality,” said the legendary vocalist and guitarist this week.
An icon of gospel
A gospel icon to reckon with – Baba Manyeruke as he is popularly known in the showbiz circles – has dedicated his life to gospel music and has no doubt grown to become one of Africa’s all timegreats and revered musicians.
With 50 years in the music industry, his continued performance on stage fulfils his “God-given” mandate to entertain and educate people through music, probably in line Duke Orsino who proclaimed in Shakespeare’s book 12th Night that: “If music be the food of love, play on, give me excess of it: that surfeiting, the appetite may sicken, and so die.”
He is in love with his music – and the faithfull man in him – as he refers to himself, has kept going for long in the showbiz industry.
Unlike many artistes who are phased out of their career path by age and failure to keep up with the musical trends – Baba Manyeruke believes that without music – his life would be meaningless.
A Singing and music is my life
“You can’t stop me from singing because that’s my life – that’s what makes me tick. Without singing I will die. It’s like locking me into something where there is no air coming through. I didn’t set out to become a musical star: music drew me – music called me. I don’t know how to explain it, but it is in my blood,” he said.
“When I started going to school in 1955, it was an Anglican church school St Patricks Mission in Gweru. By that time many churches were not allowing guitars to be played in the church,but because some other church leaders in the Salvation Army started to embrace the playing of guitars,” he said.
This is when he came face to face with his fate in the entertainment industry after he penned one gem after the other and since then he has never looked back.
And perhaps guided by the axiom that a candle loses nothing by lighting another candle he has not been so stingy with his wealth of experience.
He has passed on the baton to youths aiming to emulate his colourful career and it has yielded results for many while spurring his career to dizzy heights.
“I have worked with the likes of Isaac Chirwa, who was already in the industry. Gideon Zamimba who was still young then. Brother Sam etc most of them are now producers sharing great music ideas,” said the gospel icon.
Most of his songs are laced with gospel culture appreciation lyrics, and he said reflecting on one’s culture was of significance.
I am glad to have crafted a legacy
Manyeruke said it was necessary for youths to compose songs that spoke volumes of their culture and indigenous African tradition.
“Young people must keep on singing indigenous African music because that’s what the world is looking for. And they must keep on composing beautiful new tunes. I am glad I have crafted a legacy for the young generation that will live and be remembered even when I pass on. This goes to show that I am not a dying person.
“Yes, my body is going to perish but I will still be around. It makes me happy knowing that I will leave my shadow behind. I know my music will remain etched in the minds of my fans and it gives me pleasure,” he said.
Probably his ability to keep in touch with his roots has kept him going in the music industry and has also seen him contribute to Zimbabwe’s music industry as evidenced by the songs such as Nyika Yakanaka, which emmulates and sells Zimbabwean riches.
Manyeruke however encouraged the young up-and-coming generation to be humble and be true to their work.
“The word of God truly teaches us to be humble. Its true the young generation is being carried away,with the worldly pleasures, its not gonna take them any where, they need to be true to themselves and value their work”.
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