Vho Paul Mulaudzi was a talented and great musician of our time. Picture: Tshifhiwa Mukwevho.
“Mfowethu, no takala? (My kindred, are you well?)”
That would have been Vho Paul Mulaudzi's first words of well-wishes to me if I had happened to call him today. But, for sure, I cannot ring him. He is no more.
When word of his passing away reached me, I knew at once that I had lost a friend – he called me “mfowethu” and “khonani” (friend) interchangeably.
I had come to know Vho Paul Mulaudzi around 1990 when he had brought his music in cassette format to the members of the Holiness Christian Church at Madombidzha Zone Two. In those years, he was a member of the very denomination.
His music lived on in my youthful mind as my late uncle Aifheli Mukwevho (bless his memory) played Vho Paul Mulaudzi's collection on his portable radio. I came to love Vho Paul Mulaudzi's music because of its distinctive sounds, melodies and his husky tone of a voice. Even as I was young, and little as I was, I could detect the uniqueness in his songs, which marked his music style.
Oftentimes I would stand on an open space at the OK Taxi Rank under the big trees (where there are food kiosks today) watching him perform his music which filled townspeople with wonder and amazement. While he was staging his performance on this spot, Bishop Roxley Masevhe would be mesmerising townspeople with his bewitching voice and his piano in front the Lewis furniture store, near the old Checkout, or else at the Vrugteman store at Eltivillas. The late legendary musician Samuel April Ramufhi sat by the pavement along Mulamboni, strumming his guitar.
The town was always alive with gifted musicians who provided food for the soul to all who happened to stop and listen to their quality music. And Vho Paul Mulaudzi was one of these great maestros of our time.
In 1996 I started to mess up in life and, in 2001, found myself locked up in prison until when I got out on a lengthy parole on 2010. While in prison, I had an opportunity to listen to Vho Paul Mulaudzi's cassettes, soothing my broken spirit and getting strength to live on. Sometimes I was suicidal, but his lyrics and voice – in songs such as Ndi a mu funa Jesu, Vhutshilo hanga ho dzumbama, Ri a vha livhuwa, and Tshira tsha muthu ndi mbilu – directed me to the path of life and a purpose for living.
In 2011 I was selling snacks and 'Cool Time' at the very taxi rank when I heard the distinct voice of Vho Paul Mulaudzi belting out one of the songs of decades. I followed the sound and found him sitting on a chair near his yellowish orange bakkie with huge speakers. He was selling music from the back of his car. I bought at least three of his DVDs and two CDs. I told him how much I appreciated his music and how it had impacted on me and contributed in my rehabilitation.
“Mfowethu, ndi a ni funa (My kindred, I love you)”, was his response, and we spoke more. In the following years he would give me his new CDs and I would write reviews on his music for different publications. His response was warm, and he appreciated my work in providing a publicity space for him.
If he was happy in life, he would tell me, and he would also confide in me about the personal issues that gnawed his heart. Of all the challenges which seated his heart, piracy seemed to be a pressing thorn in his flesh.
“I sell my music in taxi ranks in the town around Vhembe,” he said. “While I occupy this corner here, those who pirate our work will occupy the area over there, selling my music at a mere R10 per MP3 collection.”
Through the years, he had made profit from his music, but with the advent of mass communication and information technology which made it easier for pirates to duplicate artists' music at ease and with previously unseen speed, Vho Paul Mulaudzi found himself at agonising odds.
Mulaudzi's musical journey started in the early 1980s in the United African Apostolic Church and he went on to chisel his singing abilities in the ZCC church, where he began taking his musical talent seriously. His first album, Ndi na Murena, came out in 1986, followed by Tshira tsha muthu ndi mbilu (1989). Over 20 albums and several DVDs followed after those two albums and Vho Paul Mulaudzi enjoyed great popularity.
Mulaudzi passed away on Sunday at the LTT Memorial Hospital at the age of 66. He will be laid to rest at Tshituni in Nzhelele.
May his soul rest in peace. His music lives on. Ri a livhuwa.
Date:12 April 2019 - By: Tshifhiwa Mukwevho
Tshifhiwa Given Mukwevho was born in 1984 in Madombidzha village, not far from Louis Trichardt in the Limpopo Province. After submitting articles for roughly a year for Limpopo Mirror's youth supplement, Makoya, he started writing for the main newspaper. He is a prolific writer who published his first book, titled A Traumatic Revenge in 2011. It focusses on life on the street and how to survive amidst poverty. His second book titled The Violent Gestures of Life was published in 2014.