INSIDE ZIMBABWE’S MUSIC INDUSTRY: Juju, rituals and the quest for success

Jah Prayzah

Local artistes rise on juju?

LANDMINE MADONGONDA, a Nyanga-based music promoter, recently made some interesting revelations about the unusual goings-on in the local music industry.

According to Madongonda, the “majority” of local musicians often use juju (magical power) and regularly consult both traditional and faith healers to boost their careers.

He further alleged that some musicians often perform weird rituals before going on stage.

The promoter, who is also a farmer, at one time worked with the late sungura musicians John Chibadura, Leonard Dembo and Simon Chimbetu.

He recounted a nasty incident involving some of the musicians, which he said was caused by fears over juju.

“My late father and I organised a musical show at Sakubva Stadium in Mutare. We roped in John Chibadura, Oliver Mtukudzi and Leonard Dembo for the gig.

“We paid Chibadura $8 000, Mtukudzi $3 000 and Dembo got $18 000. We were shocked when Dembo withdrew from the show and gave us our money back. He said he could not perform alongside Chibadura, whom he said was a wizard,” alleged Madongonda.

Madongonda said Dembo’s decision to withdraw from the show still baffles him.

“Remember, we had given him the highest amount of money. The $18 000 that we paid him was a lot of money. For him to return such a huge amount meant that he strongly believed that Chibadura used juju.”

The two singers are also said to have made it a habit not to perform at the same venue consecutively.


The alleged Dembo-Chibadura feud is not the only bizarre case in local showbiz.

Musicians like Gift Amuli admitted to performing rituals before and after music shows.

Amuli, who is a traditional healer, also says some musicians often seek his services to attract more fans.

Sekuru Kanengo, born Jimson Nyasala, who is a Harare-based traditional healer, confirmed attending to local artistes at his shrine, seeking help.

“Last year, I attended to more than 50 artistes. I cannot mention names without their permission. The only musician who comes out in the open about this is Kapfupi,” Sekuru Kanengo said.

Kapfupi admitted to visiting Sekuru Kanengo for “spiritual guidance”.

“I often visit him when I encounter family problems. However, I recently engaged him so that he could help me become popular. Ever since I visited him, my career is clearly on the rebound,” Kapfupi said.

When Sekuru Kanengo hosted a traditional ceremony last year, a number of musicians were in attendance, among them Mark Ngwazi.

Ngwazi composed and released a song titled “Sekuru Kanengo”, in which he heaps praise on the traditional healer.

The “Taurai Madzoka” hitmaker did not hesitate to explain their relationship.

“He (Sekuru Kanengo) is a good guy. My career is on the rise simply because of him.

“I am forever grateful to him and that is why I composed a song to thank him,” said Ngwazi.

Andy Muridzo also opened up about performing traditional rituals.

“I grew up in a family that practises the African traditional religion and I am not ashamed of that. My ancestors are behind my successes and performing traditional rituals is part of my life,” said the “Dherira” hitmaker.

Another Harare-based traditional healer, Gogo Chihoro (Memory Madamburi), enjoys “cordial” relationships with many singers.

Andy Muridzo

In 2022, she bought a copy of Mathias Mhere’s 10th studio album for US$2 000 during the project’s launch.

Last year, another traditional healer, Sekuru Banda, assisted musician Paradzai Mesi, who was struggling financially.

The flamboyant traditional healer confirmed to this publication that he had helped many budding and seasoned musicians at his shrine.

Social media has, of late, been awash with rumours that musician Killer T was in trouble after fame-enhancing traditional rituals he performed turned against him.

According to the social media reports, the musician travelled to Chipinge where he “got” juju, which has, however, resulted in him failing to sleep in his house.

When contacted for comment, Killer T dismissed the claims.

He insisted that he works hard and earns an honest living.

“People are jealous out there. Some think that one can only become successful by acquiring juju. This is false,” said the revered chanter.

Veteran sungura singer Alick “Baba Sharo” Macheso does not believe that juju can make an artiste successful.

Alick Macheso

“If there was juju for one to attract good crowds or to be able to play the guitar or sing better, we would have many successful singers.

“In fact, there would be no reason for us to work hard. We would just let the juju do everything for us,” he once said in an interview with this publication.


Some musicians, such as the late mbira music icon, Ambuya Stella Chiweshe, were known traditionalists who openly took snuff (bute) and performed rituals on stage.

Mbuya Chiweshe made headlines after she was buried without a coffin in Nekati village under Chief Masembura in Bindura.

Her daughter Virginia Mukwesha

said her late mother was a pure traditionalist.

“She performed rituals before and after musical shows.

“Throughout her life, my mother performed rituals and it was not a secret. She sometimes performed the rituals on stage,” she said.

Other musicians, such as Virimai Nhedega, popularly known as Vee Mhofu; Diana “Mangwenya” Samkange; and Kurai Makore believe in the African traditional religion.

Samkange, who started off as an urban grooves singer, now ventures into

traditional music and equally conducts rituals.

She claims to be a traditional healer.

Vee Mhofu

Vee Mhofu said singing is a calling from his ancestors.

“My career is a calling that I received from my ancestors, who are always with me when I compose my songs and when I go on to perform on stage. I believe in chivanhu (tradition) and that guides whatever I do,” he said.

Apart from being a musician, Vee Mhofu said he is also a herbalist.

Makore, who is a nephew of veteran Chimurenga musician Thomas Mapfumo, weighed in.

“I am possessed by a traditional spirit. I was a vendor in Mbare before my ancestors visited me through a dream and instructed me to become a musician. My ancestors provide me with lyrics and guide me,” he said.



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