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Morgan Heritage duped Zimbabwe

Last month, on December 21, thousands of reggae fans thronged the Harare International Conference Centre (HICC) to witness the second coming of Morgan Heritage in what was dubbed the Jamaica-Africa Tour. I did not attend this show for several reasons.

In the groove: with Fred Zindi

The first reason was that as soon as I discovered that out of the five original members of Morgan Heritage — namely Peter “Peetah” Morgan, Una Morgan, Roy “Gramps” Morgan, Nakhamyah “Lukes” Morgan and Memmalatel “Mr Mojo” Morgan — only two — Peetah and Mojo — had turned up. How then were they going to perform without the full band? I asked myself. I suspected that they had a few tricks up their sleeves. They were going to use CDs as their backing tracks. To me, that is a no-go area. I have never enjoyed groups which use CDs as their backing band. I guessed that this was the reason why they brought with them Lutan Fyah to cover up for their missing brothers and sister Una. How can they hold a Morgan Heritage show without Gramps on keyboards? I asked myself again.

The second reason came after I had made enquiries about who was behind this tour. When I heard that it was Simbarashe “Dhama” Chanachimwe with Boss Werras, who call themselves David House Promotions, I knew that there was bound to be a disaster as these people are new to music promotion and therefore do not have extensive experience needed for a professional show.

The first time I heard of Chanachimwe as a music promoter, was during a concert by another Jamaican artiste, Charly Black, at the Long Cheng Plaza. This was poorly attended.

Sometimes you have people who think that because they have financial backing, they know what they are doing, but it is not often the case. Such international concerts need proper planning. When Genius “Ginimbi” Kadungure brought Davido from Nigeria, he had to seek assistance from seasoned promoters , 2Kings Promotions, to make it work because even he, despite good financial backing, did not have the experience.

The third reason was that I did not have sufficient fuel to do the 30km round trip from my house to the HICC.

However, the Morgan Heritage show went ahead without me in attendance though I kept my ears to the ground. Early the next morning I asked some respectable people in the music business about how the show had gone. Clive “Mono” Mukundu of Monolio Studios, a seasoned music producer and musician in Zimbabwe, had this to say: “Oh, the sound was terrible! The PA system was just like those used in church crusades. You could hardly hear anything. The show was not as good as the one in 2016. I walked out before they even sang the second song as I realised that the whole thing was going to be a waste of time. I regret having paid $200 for two VVIP tickets which is money I could have used more usefully elsewhere.”

I also spoke to Jonathan Banda, manager to Winky D (the Kasong ke Jecha hitmaker), who told more or less the same story: “Morgan Heritage on realising that Winky D was going to upstage and outshine them, put the promoter under pressure and started to put forward some unacceptable conditions. They said that Winky D should also use CDs and should not perform with a live band. If we insisted on performance with a live band, then we should do so after Morgan Heritage finished performing. If we are the supporting act, why then perform well after the main act? Besides, the stage was not even set for a live performance. This meant that we would have to haul the live performance equipment on to the stage well after the Morgan Heritage performance. Which audience would wait for that? That did not make sense to us. Besides, the sound coming out of the PA system was terrible. We refused to accept that condition and in the end we did not perform, neither did Transit Crew who also had a full band. However, the good news is that we found a way of getting paid.”

When I visited Jamaica six months ago, I was asked by two prominent musicians to tell them more about this Winky D in Zimbabwe because one of them said, “I hear him sabotage every Jamaican artiste show in Zimbabwe.”

“Not true!” I told them. “Sabotage is the wrong word to use. Him simply outshines them. You should invite him to events such as Rebel Salute in St Ann or the Reggae Marathon in Negril and then you will see for yourself what the man can do.”

With the information I gathered about the Morgan Heritage show in Zimbabwe on December 21, 2018, the first question to ask the promoters of this show is why the sound was so poor.

Concert sound reinforcement equipment in Zimbabwe is now better than it was in the 1980s, yet we’re frequently burdened with a mess of auditory goo that just sucks the enjoyment from a live event.

Unfortunately, this happens much more than it should and I think it’s the big reason for many people not wanting to attend as many concerts as they once did. It’s tough enough with the high ticket prices. The minimum entry charge was $30 while the VVIPs paid $100. If you add to that a less than perfect concert experience, it doesn’t give one much incentive to return again any time soon. That is one more reason why I did not attend.

The second question is why was the full Morgan Heritage band not available for Zimbabwe?

A close Jamaican friend told me in confidence that “Dem people are still carrying the Morgan Heritage name around just to make money, but dem are split up long ago. Sister Una was the first to quit. I think it was mainly due to money issues, but as a family they don’t want the public to know this.”

Could this be the reason why even in 2016 Una did not come to Zimbabwe? According to Gramps, she was in hospital after a heart attack. Instead, Gramps brought his son, Jemere Morgan, who introduced the show with three songs before the appearance of Morgan Heritage.

There were mixed feelings from the audience as they expressed different views about the show.

One fan commented: “I don’t care much about those Rastas, but I heard they are the ones who sang You Don’t Haffe Dread To Be Rasta. That is the only tune I like. I went to the concert because I had nothing better to do and I was also hoping to hear Kasong keJecha from Winky D, but he didn’t perform. I think Winky D is better than those Rastas. I did not know any of their songs except one. I was also hoping that Jah Signal would be there. This is why I gave up my 30 bucks so that I could also hear Stonyeni.”

Another said: “Oh, I believe it was a fantastic performance, but I did not see much of it as I was already drunk when I got into the HICC at midnight.”
Yet one more fan remarked without giving details: “This time around, the show was not as good as the first time they came here.”

Despite these mixed views on how the concert went, I still strongly believe that those who paid their good money to attend the show received a half-baked event. This is not what seasoned concert goers expected. First of all, they did not see the performances of all the supporting acts who were billed on the posters. Secondly, according to experts who attended the show, the sound was terrible. Thirdly, according to some concert attendees although Lutan Fyah did a good job when he sang his hits such as Ungrateful. ‘Morgan Heritage’ disappointed lovers of pure niceness in reggae music as they did not bring a full band claiming that their brothers were tired of travelling and needed a break. To me, Zimbabweans were victims of deception. In short, they were duped. 30 000 United States dollars, which translates into 3 million Jamaican dollars. The three guys who came are now millionaires in Jamaica just from the one concert in Zimbabwe.

Feedback: frezindi@gmail.com

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