Queen of Sungura - Patricia Makusha (Tete Pipilo)
In Zimbabwe female musicians are usually associated with gospel music, Afro-Jazz and Urban Grooves but for Patricia Makusha, also known as Tete Pipilo on stage, has shown that the genre of Sungura knows no gender nor age for that matter. There haven’t been any female Sungura musicians since the days of Susan Mapfumo or Daisy Chenjerai of the hit song ‘Usandimirire Pagedhi’. These women dominated the Sungura genre in the early 80s and since then, no woman has seriously ventured in this genre, that was until Tete Pipilo took that step in 2012 to show Zimbabweans what she was made of and to also carry on the mantle that her predecessors of sungura left.
Tete Pipilo as she is affectionately known amongst the music circles, is the 57-year-old founder of Manjenjenje Smart Family Band has defied all odds and ventured into the male-dominated world of Sungura music. She certainly has what it takes to challenge established names such as Alick Macheso, Somandla Ndebele, First Farai and many other established names. The Manjenjenje Smart Family Band was formed in April 2013 in the city of Chitungwiza, 40 kilometres outside of Harare. Patricia Makusha hails from Gweshe Village in Chivero, Mhondoro.
Tete Pipilo started writing songs in 1987, but unfortunately, she could not record because she lacked the knowhow and had no capital. It was in 2009 when she made a breakthrough and recorded her debut album ‘Zviriseyi’ which had Afro Jazz and Urban groove songs.
She then decided to take music seriously and assembled a band in 2012, and that same year she recorded her second album ‘Munhu Ngaafare’ which was a Jit, Jazz and Rhumba combination album. It was the Jit song ‘Handidi Kuparikwa’ which was popular with listeners on our local airwaves.
With her confidence growing Tete Pipilo recorded another album the same year called ‘Chidhanana’ which had some Chimurenga songs.
In 2015 she recorded a Sungura album entitled ‘Pakaipa’ which got rave reviews. The impact she made with that album was not because she was the only female doing sungura but because it was a really good album and lots of fans appreciated hearing a female artist come so strong in the sungura game. This wasn’t enough for Tete Pipilo as she felt that she had only wet the appetites of her growing fan base. In 2016 the group released the hottest album of that year in Sungura called ‘Hombarume’ which took her fans crazy the whole part of 2017 and is still widely played across all radio stations.
Considering the competition in Sungura, she has also shared the stage with prominent artistes like Jah Prayzah, Alick Macheso, Nicholas Zakaria and many others as a supporting act. Music comes naturally to Tete Pipilo and she has faced no difficulties playing Sungura even though people may have thought she would struggle with Sungura but she has done it with a lot of ease.
The Manjenjenje Smart Family Band comprises of nine members, it has a care taker manager known as Nitiel Mutamba who is a lead guitarist and they all reside at Tete Pipilo’s house in Chitungwiza.
When asked about her creative process, Tete Pipilo stated that she meditates on what she wants to write or sometimes gets visions and she then thinks of a line then calls her rhythmist Nitiel ‘Ndebvu Musupu’ Mutanda and tell him to play the guitar then the other lines of the song automatically come to her.
All six band members are ex Extra Kwazvose members from Franco Slomo outfit. The man behind the chanting is Jackson Bongwana Kasamba, the son of Jonas Kasamba who is Alick Macheso’s former band mate.
Jonas Kasamba helped in writing, singing and chanting on the song Njekunjeku. Other band members are Nelson Mutanda who used to play with Nicholas Zakaria, Brian Bulldozer on bass, Blackie ‘Casablanca’ Watson and Chrispen Kamutaeni on keyboards.
Her band is called Manjenjenje Smart Family from her totem Mbizi or Zebra, Tembo Mazvimbakupa.
Since her female predecessors in Sungura many years ago Patricia Mukusha has challenged Zimbabweans to take seriously female songbirds who are into Sungura music and recognise them for their work not only considering male Sungura artists as better off.
The mother of three said musicians should learn to help each other instead of competing.
She said she was inspired by female artists such as the late Brenda Fassie, Shingisai Siluma and the great Tina Turner.