“I did not do well at O-Level and decided to quit formal education. I chose to pursue my musical talent and do what I was already exposed to. It has not been an easy journey, so many mountainous challenges have been on the way, but with God’s grace I am sailing through.”
Minister Michael Mahendere is fond of keeping his private life closely guarded. He has the right because he is not obliged to share his private affairs.
He agreed to share certain bits from this private terrain in our interview this week. He spoke about his life, family and career.
When he shared his academic failures in the above quotation and juxtaposed them to his current success, his aim was to prod minds. It could inspire someone mourning over academic failure out there.
For a musician, which was his first avenue to fame and exposure, the story of academic failure is not uncommon. Most successful singers are school drop-outs. But Mahendere shared the story because of the derogatory social venom that trailed his academic surrender and almost blew him off his rail. Instead of maiming his spirit, it inspired him.
He made the decision to quit academic pursuit because of incessant depressing social circumstances that sharply contrasted to the fame he amassed when he was still young.
He became a celebrity when he was in primary school after featuring on Mahendere Brothers’ song “Pasi Rashata” that was a hit in 1994 and was exposed to all sorts of negative waves that pursue famous people in their communities.
When anything amiss happened to young Mahendere, it was not treated as a normal growing up experience that had fallen on the way like any other boy in the neighbourhood. It had happened to ‘that Mahendere boy’ and it became talk of the community.
When you talk about Michael Mahendere today, you are referring to a popular singer, minister of the word of God, mining boss, passionate farmer and happy father. So many colourful adjectives can be used to describe Mahendere, but the story of his life is not that rosy.
“Becoming a celebrity at a young age was exciting to my tender mind and I did not perceive the consequences. I was on television when I was 11 years old. Many people at school and in our community could recognise me from the video that made waves on ZBCTV on programmes like Psalmody and Ezomgido,” said Mahendere.
“I was no longer like any other boy in the neighbourhood. When anything negative happened to me, it was the talk of the community because many people knew me. When I did not do well academically, it was a topic for discussion, but I had grown stronger and wanted to prove a point about music. So I pursued music with vigour and here I am now.”
Mind you, the ‘where I am now’ does not only refer to his success in music so far. It is laden with deeper meaning. He is indeed somewhere and, before getting back to the story of his life, it could be prudent to have a look at Mahendere’s current lifestyle. Besides being an award-winning musician and pastor, which is known by many of his followers, Mahendere is into mining and farming business. He is a father of three, but he resents talking about his private family life for personal reasons.
His marriage to Vimbai (nee Nyatsambo) was widely publicised in 2011 when United Family International Church leader Prophet Emmanuel Makandiwa blessed them with a present of a Mercedes-Benz E320 at their wedding.
Mahendere says the gift came as a great surprise, but his relationship with Makandiwa had come a long way. They were both members of Apostolic Faith Mission in Chitungwiza before Makandiwa started an interdenominational ministry.
Mahendere liked Makandiwa’s teachings and would attend the interdenominational services. When Makandiwa transformed the ministry to a church, Mahendere moved with him and he has been part of the church since then.
Their long alliance probably explained the luxurious present that shocked many including the recipients. It seems to have strengthened the relationship and Mahendere says he owes most of his current achievements to his mentor and spiritual leader, Prophet Makandiwa.
In a brief glimpse into his marriage and family, Mahendere spoke about his wife and how they met.
“I can say we met at church at UFIC in 2010 and we got married in 2011. We had known each other from other platforms before, but the build-up to the marriage began in 2010. The wedding sealed our life as one flesh and it has been a blissful affair,” said Mahendere.
“She has been pivotal in discovering the current Michael Mahendere. She has been supportive and I owe a lot to her. I could not have been here if it was not for her support. She is my pillar of strength.”
Vimbai features on Mahendere’s songs like “Zvichanaka” and “Masimba Ndeenyu” and she works with him in most music adventures.
They have three children aged eight, five and two and they live in Mt Pleasant. That was all he could share about his family.
Turning to his businesses, Mahendere spoke about interests in mining and farming.
“I ventured into mining in 2013 and I had a setback that led to a temporary halt in 2017. I stopped because I realised I did not have enough information in the field. I had to do more research and I am now well equipped for the industry.
“I resumed gold mining in 2018 with new partners and it has been going well since then. I want to thank God for opening good avenues for me. I am now venturing into farming in the line of vegetables.
“I identified a farm in the Manyame area and had a special arrangement with the owner. I have a vision to own my farm in the near future. I got inspiration from my brother Akim who has been a serious farmer for some years.”
Akim is the oldest of Mahendere bothers and was part of the group that made waves on the local scene with songs like “Hupenyu hwepanyika”, “Mapisarema” and “Makafanira kurumbidzwa”.
The other two brothers are Amos and Misheck. Amos, who is the second in the line of birth, led the group that was popularly known as ‘Vakomana Vemabhachi’ because of their trademark long jackets.
Michael is the youngest, but he is steadily rising to be the most successful singer after his music won him international acclaim.
He shared the family background.
“We have three sisters Naume, Ruth (late) and Opah. They were not involved in professional music but we are naturally a music family because our parents were singers at church. We grew up working with praise and worship teams and I can say Misheck is the most talented of the family. He can play many music instruments and is a great music producer,” said Mahendere.
Misheck is currently based in South Africa where he is involved in music production. He has mixed most of Michael’s songs. Akim and Amos are still in the country pursuing different ventures, but they are still involved in music.
Akim is more into production and has been part of Michael’s live concerts as a sound engineer. Amos is still composing and releasing. He recently did a song for Covid-19 awareness campaign.
Michael says the demise of original Mahendere Brothers was a result of different choices they made as they grew into different life paths, but they still work together in different projects.
Amos has featured on Michael’s song “Makomborero” and they all assist each other in their music projects despite going separate ways in the profession.
Michael’s success story began when he did “Makanaka Jesu” with UFIC Choir. The song catapulted him to fame and he went on to release “Getting Personal with God (Volume 1)” in 2011. He has now released three volumes under the title and has hits like “Ndinokudai Mweya Mutsvene”, “Mwari Munondigonera” and “Salt of the Earth”.
His star seems to keep shining and he is proud to have acquired so much knowledge through various researches away from formal academic way.
He has been involved in network marketing and trading as part of growing his information base.
He proudly says he has learnt a lot through mentorship and research and does not regret quitting his formal academic pursuit after Ordinary Level failure. Doors continue opening for him and he believes the best is yet to come. After all, he is only 37 years old.