THE late Paul “Dr Love” Matavire who died in 2005, was one of the music greats of his time whose wit and humour-laced approach to serious social issues made his lyrics quite relevant even today as his music knows no age group while his themes were timeless.
Although a lot of theories have been put forward to try and explain his visual impairment that came when he was only two years old, his 82-year-old mother, Makanani Mafirechuma revealed in an interview with the Sunday Leisure in Mwenezi that it had more to do with certain traditional rites that were not adhered to than witchcraft or immunisation as many have been misled into believing.
She said his sight deteriorated in less than two days and suddenly his eyes completely sunk into their sockets leaving completely no sign of the eyes and efforts to get his sight restored were all in vain. But he seemed to have understood that lack of sight was not lack of vision. And perhaps that also gave him the impetus to pursue his dream of becoming great one day.
He became a great musician indeed whose style was original and unique. It managed to define and distinguish his music from the rest of the musicians of his time most of whom are late such as Leonard Dembo, James Chimombe, John Chibadura, Marshal Munhumumwe, Marko Sibanda, Solomon Skuza, Fanyana Dube, Ndux Malax and Simon Chimbetu.
Some of his songs such as MaU, Christmas Yatosvika, Honour Ladies, Mavis, Dhiabhorosi Nyoka, Back from College, Ndiri Mujere and many others remain hits years after they were released. He had 13 albums under his belt released with the Jairos Jiri band and later the Hit Machine.
In his day unlike nowadays, copycats were very few and it seems most of the musicians strived on curving a name for themselves in a community of musicians that had a culture and moral obligation to respect other people’s work.
And unlike these days, those who were serious in the music industry managed to acquire properties, vehicles and other things that defined their worth. Technology which had brought the global village concept had not paced up to the level where it is today and their music was rated on the strength of the sales.
Paul Matavire, therefore, belonged to a class of musicians who knew little if not nothing about piracy. A class of musicians who managed to acquire both fame and money from their creative work and a class of real talent whose voices and instrumentation were not fine-tuned with the aid of technological devices.
And although he is departed, he is remembered in the many compositions that he penned and his name remains etched not only in the hearts and minds of his family and friends but his many fans some of whom never got the chance to meet him.
But his departure to eternity did not leave a permanent and painful scar to anyone else more than it did to his mother who used to get anything and everything from him. He was the sole bread-winner to his three daughters and an extended family that consisted of his mother and late father, brothers, sisters and late sister’s children.
Two of his children are in South Africa while the wife he had at the time of his death was young and remarried. They did not have children. And ever since his death the lives of almost two dozens of his dependents were never to be the same again.
Like in so many other cases death robbed them of their breadwinner before he could complete his seven-roomed house that was at roof level while thieves made the situation worse by stealing most of his cattle, goats and sheep.
His mother is now struggling to fulfil her son’s dreams of completing the house although thieves have been helping themselves to some of the material.
His mother told the Sunday Leisure that Paul was the family’s breadwinner whose death robbed the entire family of the niceties that life through him used to offer.
And death has not been so kind to her as she lost her husband, Enias Runesu Mafirechuma a few years later, but she seemed to lament Paul’s death more than that of her husband.
She said ever since his death there had been very little to be happy about as she now lives on working hard on the land even at that old age, something she had forgone as Paul had employed people to help her out.
And when she is not in the fields with her grandchildren, she spends her time seated by the shade of the house that her beloved son had built crushing dried marula seeds they would have picked for the nuts that she said were a delicacy.
She is now fending for four of her grandchildren who are of school-going age but are not going to school because no one is paying fees for them.
She said Paul was the most educated of his father’s 32 children born of a polygamous marriage of seven wives.
She said education was not so much a priority in the olden days and in their culture but Paul made his own efforts to get educated and went as far as Advanced Level when it was still so much revered.
During that time, she said, parents would brag at village beer gatherings that their children had gone up to Ordinary Level even if they had failed.
“I do not remember paying any fees for Paul’s secondary education. He made the efforts himself. What I can only testify is that he was too intelligent and that may have contributed immensely to him getting the sympathy of well-wishers who paid for his school fees. He first went to Musume Mission in Mberengwa and that is where he started singing gospel songs from where he went to Morgenster Mission where he was later taken to Copota School for the Blind,” she said.
Although she could not still remember some of the details she said it was around the time he was at Copota that he met Jairos Jiri who was instantly charmed by his intelligence and took him to South Africa during the liberation struggle where some South Africans wanted him to stay there for good but Jiri refused with him.
Paul had invested heavily in cattle. At the time of his death, his sister Saliwe Matavire said he had 92 cattle and several sheep and goats. She said some of the cattle died while some were stolen leaving only 15.
Saliwe said she and her sisters were helping out their mother but not as much as Paul used to do owing to them not having plenty.
Their brother Whatson, she said, was trying his lucky in music where he was working on reviving the legacy left by Paul.
She lamented limited education saying they are told Paul had a house in Harare and another one in Chivhu but no one knows exactly where the houses were and therefore his properties were difficult to locate.
“We are told he had a house in Chivhu and another in Harare but in the absence of his daughters who went to South Africa and never came back, his properties are difficult to locate. He used to own cars that were used by the band but with his demise there is nothing we can claim now, for we do not know who to approach. His manager Wellington Mbiza who used to be a close relative also passed on,” said Saliwe.