Veteran actress Mai Rwizi of the Mukadota Family dies. She was 83


The Zimbabwean entertainment landscape is mourning the loss of a beloved icon, Susan Chenjerai, better known to generations of fans as the effervescent ‘Mai Rwizi’. The yester-year comedian, famed for her role in the popular television show, “Mukadota Family”, passed away at the age of 83, leaving a void that will be felt deeply by her family, friends, and admirers.

News of her passing spread like wildfire through social media, prompting an outpouring of grief and tributes from fellow artists, fans, and those who had the privilege of knowing her. A common thread resonated through these messages: a profound sense of loss for a woman who brought laughter and joy to countless Zimbabweans.

“It’s sad most of our artists are not celebrated while they are still alive. Tinovakanganwa (we forget them). We only remember them when they are gone. I think the relevant ministry must come with a way to recognize and celebrate these artists vachiri vapenyu (when they are still alive).May her soul Rest In Peace,” lamented Sabhuku Dofo on Twitter, echoing a sentiment shared by many.

“So sad…Thanks for the memories Mai Rwizi,” wrote Jarzin Man, capturing the essence of the collective feeling – gratitude for the legacy of laughter and entertainment ‘Mai Rwizi’ had left behind.

Born and raised in the vibrant Mbare township, Chenjerai’s journey into the world of entertainment began in 1951 with the Bantu Actors, a testament to her early passion for the stage. Her talent blossomed further in 1958 with the Marandellas Bush Babies, showcasing her versatility and captivating stage presence.

However, it was her joining the Safe Brothers band in 1969, led by the legendary Safirio Madzikatire, that truly propelled her to stardom. The “Mukadota Family” television show became a household name, with Chenjerai’s portrayal of ‘Mai Rwizi’ captivating audiences with her comedic timing, musical talent, and undeniable charisma.

Beyond the “Mukadota Family”, Chenjerai’s talent shone brightly. She graced the stage with the Wagon Wheels, where she met the iconic Oliver Mtukudzi, further cementing her place in Zimbabwean music history. Her collaborations extended to the late, legendary gospel musician, Jordan Chataika, showcasing her ability to seamlessly navigate different genres with grace and expertise.

Her journey to stardom began serendipitously. While working at Willards, she was discovered by Mukadota, who had heard her singing at Majubeki. Her talent was undeniable, and she quickly became an integral part of his band. However, her dedication to her craft came at a personal cost. She later worked at OK Supermarket, sacrificing her touring commitments with Mukadota, whom she revealed in a past interview was now moving around with “other girls” such as Katarina.

Despite the sacrifices she made, Chenjerai’s passion for music and acting never waned. She continued to entertain and inspire audiences, leaving an indelible mark on the Zimbabwean entertainment scene.

In her later years, she found solace and purpose in her faith, becoming a pastor at the New Gospel Church of God. Though her stage presence may have dimmed, her spirit of joy and her unwavering belief in the power of music and laughter continued to shine through.

Chenjerai leaves behind a legacy that transcends generations. She is survived by five children, more than 30 grandchildren, and 35 great-grandchildren. Her contributions to Zimbabwean entertainment were recognized with three prestigious awards: the Zimbabwe Film Festival Lifetime Achievement Award, The Silver Jubilee Award, and the NAMA Legend Award.

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