The late Adam Chisvo who succumbed to diabetes on Wednesday was Kunonga’s percussionist and mbira player.
But the veteran jazz musician shocked his fans when he decided to go ahead with a show at Jazz 105 on the eve of Chisvo’s funeral.
A tense atmosphere engulfed the gig as some of the band members openly shed tears on stage.
They could apparently not stand the conspicuous absence of a smiling bulky man alternating between fingering mbira keys and hitting his percussion.
His usual place at the far end of the stage was hauntingly empty.
Although Kunonga acknowledged that the show was being held in a challenging environment, some among his fans felt that he had acted in a heartless way.
“Please bear with us. This is a difficult time for us because we lost one of our members Adam Chisvo yesterday (Wednesday).
“He could have been sitting right there (pointing at Chisvo’s usual place on stage) but he is gone.
“We will say good-bye when he is buried tomorrow (Friday),” said Kunonga as he introduced his performance.
Chisvo was buried in Makanyazvingwa Village in Seke on Friday.
While some applauded the many songs that Kunonga did thereafter, the general feeling among his audiences was that he had struck a wrong chord.
“I do not think he should have gone ahead with this show. It is senseless to stage a show when we are mourning his oldest band member,” said the Jazz 105 patron.
Josh Hozheri, the director of Jazz 105 said they had discussed cancelling the show with Kunonga but the musician had insisted that it would go ahead.
The show was a Hospitality Association of Zimbabwe (HAZ) function.
“We talked about it (intention to cancel the show) at Chisvo’s funeral wake but Kunonga said he had already made an agreement with HAZ and he felt he had to go ahead with the show.
“I am merely hosting the show and there is no way I could stand in the two parties’ way,” Hozheri said.
Speaking after the show, Kunonga said he had to go ahead with the show because he had a binding contract.
He said the show was also an opportunity to raise funds for Chisvo’s family.
“Everything concerning Chisvo’s funeral and burial is on course but we must remember that he has left a family and we have to look after it.
“The show was already arranged and our late member was supposed to be here.
“But we have to keep the music going and maintain the business so that we take care of the family,” Kunonga said.
Kunonga performed alongside Jabavu Drive, which went on stage first.
Hozheri ensured that Chisvo had his share of honour when he instructed the master of ceremonies at the event to call for a moment of silence just before Jabavu Drive went on stage.