Home » Arts & Culture » The Thin Line Between ‘Madhebhura’, ‘Madhuwe’

THERE is nothing new under the sun, King Solomon says in Ecclesiastes 1 vs 9. You cannot reinvent the wheel, scientists say. But listening to Thomas “Mukanya” Mapfumo’s “Madhebhura”, released in 1986, and Alick Macheso’s “Madhuwe”, produced in 2004, brings to fore the merits of the aforementioned idioms.

The names strike you with an unsettling proximity, “Madhuwe” and “Madhebhura”.

Madhebhura is a name outright, while Madhuwe is a totem for Dube, so a woman would be called Ma’Dube (pronounced Madhuwe).

Both songs are about a man who is threatening rivals not to even dare look at his girlfriend. Mapfumo declares war “hondo neni, iwe-e”, and the repetition is meant to emphatically drive the point home.

He goes on to belittle the rival as “mupfanha” (young lad), perhaps tough-talking earned from living in Mbare in his adolescence and stint with the Halelujah Chicken Run band in the 70s.

Hokoyo mupfanha hokoyo

(Watch out young man, watch out)

He then warns rivals to take his aice seriously.

Vakomana ndakuyambirai inini (Guys, I have warned you)

Mapfumo even goes further to name and shame this rival.

Samungere, Samungere

This is meant to ensure that Samungere is seen as a “marriage-wrecker”, and that society would spit on him, even dogs would not dare sniff his scent.

Macheso takes the same angle on the song “Madhuwe”.

He makes it so common-sensical that whoever tries to take away his lover will meet a certain end.

Macheso describes the attempt to take his lover away from him as a futile one that would see the transgressor being electrocuted.

Varume, yambiro yakanaka,

Musazobate magetsi muchiziva, moto unouraya

(Men, it’s wise to heed aice. Don’t touch electricity without protection, Electricity can kill).

Macheso goes on to equate such foolish bravado to rubbing one’s own eyes with hands that have just touched chillies or peri-peri.

However, while so far it is innocently similarity of situations, what peels this veil of decency away is that both “Madhebhura” and “Madhuwe” exhibit the same fundamental flaw.

Protagonists in both songs turn from being supermen to mere beggars, in the blink of an eye they are kow-towing before their rivals.

Vakomana musanditorere Madhebhura

Inga ndiye chete wandinaye inini

(Guys don’t take away my Madhebhura. She is the only one I have, me).

From being the warrior declaring war, Mapfumo is begging for mercy. So desperate is he in his powerlessness, such that he threatens to come back as an avenging spirit and haunt his vanguisher.

Vakomana mukanditorera Madhebura

Vakomana ndinomuka ngozi inini

(Guys if you take my Madhebhura, I will return as a ghost and haunt you).

Macheso inexplicably falls into the same rut.

Far from the electrocution of rivals, he begs rivals not to take Madhuwe from him because she is the only one he has.

Varume Madhuwe wangu, musatore Madhuwe wangu . . .

Nokuti ndopandimire, ndese

(Men my Madhuwe, don’t take away my Madhuwe, Because that’s where I stand, all of me)

Macheso also threatens as the all-powerful alpha male, and then suddenly turn knee-jellied, just as Mapfumo did two decades ago.

The songs both start by threats to rivals, reaffirm their love for their girlfriends, then boom, all the macho pretense is gone, they are begging for mercy.

This is quite unlike Dolly Patton in the song “Jolene”, where Patton knew outright that she was no match for Jolene.

“Jolene Jolene Jolene Jolene

“I am begging of you please don’t take my man

“Please don’t take him just because you can . . .

“And I cannot compete with you Jolene,” sings Patton.

So what Macheso adds to the song “Madhebhura” is that he will also work hard and acquire wealth, just like his rival suitors.

Mungave mune zvenyu asi ndichashandawo zvangu

(You may have wealth, but I will also accumulate my own.)

But otherwise Madhebhura and Madhuwe, despite the over two-decade gap, appear to be the same song.

Source : The Herald

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