The death last Saturday of Abel Sinwametsi Sithole, one of the exponents of Zimbabwean music, cast a pall over a city that was still euphoric over the trumphant hosting of the Bulawayo Arts Awards on the previous night. On Saturday morning, aged 81, the crooner died at Mpilo Central Hospital.
By Admire Kudita
Sithole is a music legend and his death is coming soon after the tragic and premature death of another singer and fellow freedom fighter Chinx. As it happens, Sithole was one of the singers that joined the war effort on the Zipra side. His contribution was no less.
Mourners are gathered at Soshangani Flats in Nguboyenja and he will likely be buried on Friday.
Sithole joined the Golden Rhythm Crooners in 1956, five years after the group had been formed by Steven Gadlula.
Along the likes of George Madondo, Timothy Salani and Champion Banda they were on an entertainment circuit that featured the Da Black Evening Follies and Safirio Madzikatire as solo singer on guitar. This was the age of the Sonny Sondos and early divas such as Faith Dauti, Susan Chenjerai and Dorothy Masuka who regularly sang with the group.
An anecdotal story reported to blogger Tapfumaneyi Chirikure has Dorothy Masuka stealing a then substantial 75 pounds before making her way to South Africa.
The rest of her story is the stuff of legend.
But members of Golden Rhythm Crooners and another vocal group, the Cool Four, merged to form the Cool Crooners.
The group’s most famous hit is undoubtedly the popular hit Ibhulugwe Lami. The song was featured on their Blue Sky album which they did under former manager Jacki Cahi’s leadership. They did not have a very rosy separation with her though they had toured Europe, mainly France.
They somehow did not make much from that liaison.
If ever there were artistes who were exultant on stage, it was the Cool Crooners and their choreography put many young artistes to shame. The Cool Crooners were intergral to the Zimbabwe National Jazz Festival and the Winter Jazz Festival for many years.
His passing is a loss to the arts community of Zimbabwe.
Meanwhile, here is the full list of winners of the Bulawayo Arts Awards:
Song of the Year
Ngamnanka uSaMamoe by Madlela Skhobokhobo
Outstanding male artiste
Mgcini Calvin Nhliziyo aka CAL _VIN
Outstanding female artiste
Outstanding newcomer of the year
Outstanding alternative music
Outstanding hip/hop artiste/act
Calvin Mgcini nhliziyo (CAL_VIN)
Outstanding Gospel Artiste/act
Lorraine Maplanka stot
Outstanding Actress (schools)
Anita Moyo (Eveline High)
Outstanding actor (schools)
Nobert Makoche (Gifford High)
Outstanding arts educator
Thabani H. Moyo
Outstanding school artes effort
Mzilikazi High School
Outstanding Visual Artiste
Outstanding Video Director
Outstanding Online Media House
Outstanding Arts Photographer
Ntando Van Moyo
Outstanding Literary Work
Mars, his sword by Philani A. Nyoni
Outstanding Arts Journalist
Bruce Ndlovu of Bmetro
Outstanding Media House
Skyz Metro FM
Outstanding Contemporary Dance Ensemble
Inkululeko Yabatsha School of Arts (Iyasa)
Outstanding traditional dance ensemble
Umkhathi Theatre Works
Outstanding Female Dancer
Dadirai Mpandawana (Ezimnyama Dance Ensemble)
Outstanding male Dancer
Mbongeni Nxumalo (IYASA)
Dube Surprise & Bukhosi Ndlovu Aka Brandroom
Outstanding film actress
Donna Ncube Aka Donna N – The Lost Letter
Outstanding Film Actor
Mothusi Ndlovu Aka Madlela
The Arthur Evans Show
Outstanding Theatre Actress
Tsitsi Gumbo –Untikolotshe
Outstanding Theatre Actor
Gift Chakuvinga – Double Funeral
Outstanding Theatre Production
Joseph and the Coat of Many Colours
Outstanding Ambassador (South Africa)
Outstanding Ambassador (Global)
Outstanding Arts Supporter
Life Achievement Award
Phathisani Sibanda, Star FM
Mqondisi Sibanda aka Skaiva