Chibadura gave me a platform to shine − Soma

Trust Khosa, Assistant News Editor

SOMANDLA “MAFIA” NDEBELE reckons seasoned musicians have a major role to play in weaning off rookies.

The 50-year-old, who got free mentorship from the late John Chibadura in the early 90s, said veterans should be proud  of their mentees once they make a breakthrough in their careers.



The late John Chibadura and Somandla Ndebele

He urged mentors not to expect returns from their students.


Chibadura died in 1999 at the age of 42, leaving a huge void to fill.


“When I started my music career at the age of 17, while doing Form Four, I had a lot of people that I looked up to and one of them was John Chibadura.


“John Chibadura took me on board and even gave me a guitar and a keyboard to use.


“I don’t know what he saw in me since I was a rookie, but these are the kind of people who came into my life when I needed them,” he said.



Somandla Ndebele

Soma said although he sometimes felt Chibadura gave him pressure, he will remain grateful for the exposure he got.


“During the days of the music greats like Chibadura, it was difficult for rookies to get exposure or be trusted by venue owners and promoters.


“You needed to have someone who was a veteran to take you on board under their wings.


“I was so lucky that I got the exposure from Chibadura.



“Not only did Chibadura give me the platform I needed to shine, his band members assisted me to record my early hits such as Ndingazviite Sei? and Vandondivenga Havachapera with the help of Tembo Brothers members like Bata Sintirawo and Charles Bhanzi,” he said.


With over 20 albums to his name, Soma said he was ready to assist anyone who seeks his expertise.


“At 50, I think I would have done nothing if I don’t assist young musicians and even jump-start the careers of struggling veterans who have fallen by the wayside.


“In my case, I’m someone who doesn’t brag a lot about his achievements and I have been offering recording facilities and space for rehearsals to fans.


“It’s a studio set up that we have, but we will certainly hold an official opening with  time,” he said.


The Denda Brothers leader — who has been in the game for three decades — said music had also taught him to appreciate others.


“In my case, I have stayed with strangers and even given them professional advice for free.


“The sad reality with our artistes is that they don’t consult us for free advice and some of the tips we have can be useful to them.


“My fears are that the young musicians need to utilise us while we are still alive because there is wisdom that we are likely to take to the grave with us,” he added.