Entertainment Music

Papa Zai pays tribute to Daddy Zemus

KELVIN KACHINGWE, Lusaka
FOURTEEN years after his death, Papa Zai (Ernest Yikona) feels not enough justice has been done for the king of Zamragga Daddy Zemus (Antony Kafunya).
The Finland-based musician-cum-journalist believes Daddy Zemus, who died on January 3, 2001, was a trendsetter and pacemaker who carved his own identity based on his understanding of himself, what he was dealing with, and his ideological evolution.
“If there were to be a Hall of Fame in Zambia, I would wish to see the memory of Daddy Zemus associated with such great game changers like Alick Nkhata, Paul Ngozi, and Chris Chali/Amayenge. Very few deserve a monument as much as Daddy Zemus does. If the industry he has given such a big boost does not do it for him, I will do it myself for my friend,” Papa Zai, who first played alongside Daddy Zemus in the Zion Dub Squad, says.
“In Zambia it seems to be common practice that people wish to take credit that is not due to them, and people would like to erase someone’s legacy so that they may claim it for themselves.”
Papai Zai, who with Daddy Zemus, teamed up with Brian Shakarongo, Ras Tammuz, the late Patrick Chisembele, Longa and Fritz to form Shakarongo Combination, believes that Zemus should get the credit he deserves.
However, he also believes that what he became was a product of the effort of many people who have to be recognised for making Daddy Zemus a legend.
“Most of those who came after his success had very little to do with the struggle he went through to get to where they finally met him and got the benefits of working with him,” he says.
Papa Zai believes the annual reggae festivals that Shakarongo organised provided a platform for his exposure.
“Before this time, the most reputable reggae band was Maoma. Later people like Wapolina Mkandawire, self-styled reggae guru, emerged…In those circles, Zion Dub Squad, Zem and Zai, Burning Youth and Shakarongo Combination were the acts that expressed traits of dancehall mixed with various forms of reggae including roots and steppers,” he says.
“Those days rappers, funk and reggae singers sang in English. Maoma did try some reggae in Nyanja in the 80s, and Larry Maluma came in with Chakolwa on a Zambianised reggae rhythm. The Burning Youth did reggae in Tumbuka and Nyanja but it had not yet caught on as a hit. We have people like Ballard Zulu and his ‘Cook On’ hit which was a very Zambian song in a very international presentation. With people like Victor Kachaka they came up with the naïve touch.
“All these people had influence on Zemus’ Zambianisation. Then there was MC Wabwino, who was already toasting in Nyanja before Zemus. The two, Zemus and MC Wabwino, got along very well from the very beginning. MC Wabwino was definitely a major influence in the Nyanjalisation of Daddy Zemus’ style.”

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