When musician and businessman Prince Tendai died on December 27, 2011 he had gone through a lot of physical and emotional pain.
Sadly, his emotional complications came with one of the greatest shows in the land that featured Akon and Sean Paul at the National Sports Stadium.
The show was held on September 4, 2010 and it is still rated as one of the massive gigs held in Zimbabwe since Bob Marley brought down Rufaro Stadium during the country’s independence celebrations in 1980.
While thousands of people enjoyed the big concert, Prince Tendai was in deep emotional pain because the show left him in huge debts.
The show was not a flop but security leakages robbed the musician — who brought the international musicians through his ZimSwag promotions company — of the rewards he could have reaped if all income had come his way.
It is unfortunate that Prince Tendai had not recovered from the setback by the time of his death. For a man who lived a posh life and was renowned for his contribution to the business and art sectors, Prince Tendai had an agonising end.
His right-hand-man Joe “Local” Nyamungoma, who is now Suluman Chimbetu’s publicist, went down memory lane yesterday and shared some of the highs and lows of the departed musician’s career.
He remembers well the misfortune of the Akon — Sean Paul gig. It was called the “Real Deal” concert yet its organisers got a raw deal.
“We had planned everything well and we were looking ahead for a mega concert. Yes, it was a mega concert, but it resulted in the worst experience of my boss’ career. I had known Prince Tendai for almost 15 years, but he became a different person after that show,” recalled Nyamungoma.
“Seeing multitudes of fans in the stadium and getting income that did not reflect the situation on the ground was Prince Tendai’s hard blow. Since that show, he was never the same and other successive misfortunes made hell for everyone who was close to him. He was the most affected and it is touching to recall that he got a bad result from a good deal. He trusted so many people around him and many of them took advantage of that.
“On a Monday after the show, we saw some of the guys that were responsible for security buying cars. Prince Tendai could not believe it. We all knew that leakages were a result of slack security and many people involved in that area had made a lot by collecting money at the gates. Money that never reached the company.
“We could not confront them, but Prince Tendai was so touched. While many people were knocking at our offices asking for thousands that we owed them, others were buying cars and spending money that was supposed to go to those that had invested in the concert
Since that experience, Prince Tendai lived in stress due to debts. Unfortunately, while he tried to run around and stitch deals in attempt to make a recovery, Prince Tendai was involved in an accident and his latest Mercedes Benz ML was damaged beyond repair.
He had bought it just before the Akon gig and had not yet acquired full-cover insurance. It was another huge loss.
The accident took place just a month after the show. He was not injured but signs of stress on Prince Tendai increased. I was his spokesperson and personal driver and he shared many secrets. He told me that things were getting worse everywhere around him. He began confessing experiencing funny physical feelings and his speech became slurred while his arms became weak.
“Most local doctors said it was mild stroke and they could not do much to assist. An Indian doctor told us that it was motor neuron disease and chances of survival were slim. He was referred to a hospital in China and he went there thrice without much change.
“One day we visited his mother at her house and that was the first time I saw him crying. In all the years, he had shown a brave face even in hard times. He tried to assure his mother that he would get well, but emotions failed him. As she kept narrating and his mother looked worried, he eventually broke down. I had never seen him shed tears and I went out of the room. He called me back and said I should face the situation.
“He always wanted me to be on his side. Every day I would go to his house and take him in the morning. We drove around and met business partners, but it was a tough scenario. I remember one day he bought food at Fife Avenue shops and he could not eat. He said ‘let us share the food, it might be our last supper together’. I laughed and took the matter lightly, trying to assure him that he could recover.”
On his last trip to China for treatment, Prince Tendai got worse. He was accompanied by his brother and wife. The doctors apparently realised he could not make it and they sent him back home. He died on the very day he arrived.
“His wife told me that the condition had massively deteriorated. She said they were bringing him back home. They landed in Harare around 4pm. An ambulance took him from the airport to his house, but he got worse upon arrival. He was taken to a private hospital where he died at around 7pm that same day.
“His brother said it was amazing how Prince Tendai had arrived back home alive. He actually described him as a good fighter because he had made it through the long journey back home and died a few hours after arrival.”Nyamungoma said he will forever remember the good days he had with Prince Tendai, who taught him a lot about life.
They first met in 1996 when he went to the late artiste’s studio, High Density Records, when Simon Chimbetu was recording his album “Zuva Raenda”.Because he was an avid follower of Dendera music, Nyamungoma got an invitation from a friend who was close to Chimbetu and they went to the studio together.
“I had heard a lot about Prince Tendai and I was happy to meet him. The meeting was brief, but we exchanged notes. After about two years, he invited me to connect electricity at his new house in Emarald Hill.
”Nyamungoma had just graduated as an electrician from a local college and he began working on more projects for Prince Tendai in that capacity until the relationship grew stronger. Prince Tendai assisted Nyamungoma in recording his album “Mhoroi Mhoroi”, which was a dendera release.
As Prince Tendai established businesses, Nyamungoma became a key employee of Ekhaya Petroleum service stations. Because of their common interest in music, Nyamongoma became his boss’ spokesperson on the arts side and later became his driver and right-hand-man in most endeavours until his death.