Bongani Ndlovu, Showbiz Correspondent
When Dan Tshanda, Patricia Majalisa’s ex-husband died on January 5 last year, she was supposedly left, according to fans, with the onus to carry on with the Dalom Music genre.
Years prior to his death, Tshanda had declared that Dalom Music, popularly known as Splash, would die with him and true to his word, a year later, the person who most had pinned their hope on, also died on Thursday.
These two talented musicians had over the years, become the pillars of Splash Music that captivated South Africa from the mid-80s right up to the turn of the millennium.
While their genre’s popularity waned in South Africa, it found permanent residence in Zimbabwe, Botswana and Namibia.
Their music has been and continues to be part and parcel of Bulawayo nightlife and it is just not only great to dance to, it has lyrics that resonate with people, as it has words of encouragement, sorrow, comfort and happiness.
There’s no shebeen in the western areas or even now in the eastern areas that does not play Splash Music.
In Gwabalanda, there is koLindi, in Nkulumane koBeke, koJomo in Mpopoma, Magwegwe North has emaZengeni and koSiliva, koMaMondela and koNaJu in Old Pumula and koSafana in Mzilikazi, these are some of the most popular shebeens in Bulawayo. That is where Splash Music has been thriving for all these years.
People who run Umabhija where people partake in beer drinking competitions at shebeens, had been the market that Majalisa and Dan Tshanda serviced.
The two would visit these establishments during their stays in Bulawayo when they were booked for shows.
Bekezela Nkomazana who runs koBeke said they were sad that Majalisa died as hers and Tshanda’s music was the one that drove their business.
“She was everything to me, it touched me and I couldn’t believe it. I couldn’t eat as if she is my relative. Our customers love Splash. We don’t know where to look.
“We are sad that Majalisa has died. She used to visit our place for Umabhija/ Omabhija every time she was in the country when she had a show.
“She would interact with our patrons. Even Dan Tshanda would come and have a few drinks with us and the patrons. We are at a loss for words about her death.
“You could play any music, but the mood wouldn’t be great if Splash Music isn’t played. Their music is the best, it gets people dancing and enjoying themselves as we do Omabhija,” said Nkomazana.
However, the question remains that with Majalisa’s death on Thursday, does it mean the death of Splash music? This is because the proponents of the genre are dying one by one, pop reggae group Matshikos Joseph Tshimange and Penwell Kunene are both late, now Dan Tshanda and Majalisa.
Nkomazana who fell in love with Splash Music in 1993 said with the death of Majalisa, she was uncertain about the genre’s future.
“I fell in love with Splash music during the rise of the likes of Majalisa and Brenda Fassie. I liked Dan Tshanda’s song Pointing Fingers from the album 1 comma 5 and I heard it in 1993 and I was hooked ever since.
“That was the music we loved and we followed their careers. I don’t know what the future holds, although Dan Tshanda wrote and recorded music before his death which is being released.
“With Brenda Fassie, we still remember her once in a while because they aren’t releasing any new music. Perhaps this is a sign of things to come,” said Nkomazana.
When Highlanders Football Club wins, the city reverberates and Splash Music blares from car speakers and radios at shebeens.
Johannes “Signature” Ngodzo, one of Zimbabwe’s midfield maestros who played for Bosso said the music would make them believe that they could win any game.
“We would play Splash Music on the team bus, whenever we were travelling, be it to Hwange, Masvingo or Harare. Even now at Bantu Rovers, I still play that music in the team bus.
“That music would put you in the zone for the game no matter the opponent. You’d believe that anything would happen,” said Ngodzo.
He believes Majalisa’s death marks the end of Splash Music saying they will take solace in their yesteryear hits.
“Although people think this is shebeen music, it’s loaded with so much messages and life lessons for people. When Dan Tshanda died, we thought that Majalisa would be the one who takes up the mantle. The stable wasn’t that balanced.
“Now with her death, I think that marks the death of the stable. I don’t think there’s anyone else who can take it up. We’ll listen to old school,” said Ngodzo.
Their music touched the masses not only in Bulawayo, but also in Matabeleland North and Matabeleland South.
When Zimbabweans working in South Africa return home, bottle stores will be a hive of activity and Splash will be the tonic that marks the beginning of the festive season.
The last time Majalisa was in Bulawayo was in December last year for a show with Freddy Gwala at the Large City Hall dubbed Township Vibes, Akulalwa Ziyawa. It was organised by UK-based promotional company Southgrooves Entertainment headed by DJ Sox. The show was attended by hundreds of her fans. She held her own with the other Dalom Music exponents.
DJ Sox said he was shocked by Majalisa’s death and described her as a good person who was easy to work with.
“She could interact with her fans well. We worked together very well to a point where we planned on bringing her to the UK for summer events next year, as well as Zimbabwe.
“When she came to Bulawayo last year, it seemed like a comeback tour after several years of her last performance in Zimbabwe. From this performance, that’s when we realised we could do this annually,” said DJ Sox.
He said he hopes that the Splash genre will not die.
Another music promoter, Dee Nosh who had planned a show with Majalisa in Beitbridge and Bulawayo for later this year, said he was devastated.
“It’s a sad moment to hear such sad news. She was one of the greatest female artistes and we’ve lost yet another legend. Apart from Master KG and Makhadzi who I had on my 2020 calendar, Patricia was also on the dates to be agreed on for shows in Bulawayo and Beitbridge,” said Dee Nosh.
Who will carry the torch into the future or is Majalisa’s passing the death knell for Splash Music? Only time will tell. — Follow on Twitter @bonganinkunzi