Pastor Haisa Remembers Leonard Dembo's Stand Against Recording Company Exploitation

Pastor Haisa, a revered clergyman in Zimbabwe, has offered a unique perspective on his close relationship with the legendary musician, Leonard Dembo. 

His insights delve into a lesser-known chapter of Zimbabwean music, exposing the exploitation faced by talented artists at the hands of recording companies during that era.

Dembo's Fight for Respect and Recognition

Pastor Haisa paints a picture of Dembo, the man behind the iconic "Chitekete," as someone deeply connected to his art. His music wasn't merely entertainment; it was a reflection of his life's experiences. The song "Shiriyakangwara," for instance, was born from Dembo's own battle with illness. This authenticity, however, became a source of contention with his recording company.

Pastor Haisa vividly recounts an episode where a recovering Dembo was pressured by his recording company to produce another album. This blatant disregard for his well-being sparked a fire within the musician. Dembo, refusing to be exploited, demanded fair treatment. He insisted on a decent house from the company that had reaped significant profits from his previous albums.
Pastor Haisa Remembers Leonard Dembo's Stand Against Recording Company Exploitation
Pastor Haisa Remembers Leonard Dembo's Stand Against Recording Company Exploitation
Pastor Haisa emphasizes his role as a close confidante and witness to these events. He describes his personal intervention to ensure Dembo received proper medical attention, even taking him "by force" from a shrine to a hospital. This anecdote not only highlights their bond but also sheds light on the lengths some artists had to go to in order to prioritize their health over industry pressures.

A Pattern of Exploitation in the Music Industry

Pastor Haisa's revelations extend beyond Dembo's story. He shares another encounter, this time with the late Kenneth Chigodora, another prominent musician of that era. Chigodora, overcome with despair, was found weeping outside his recording company, Gramma Records. The source of his anguish? Bank cheques supposedly withdrawn by a former manager, a claim Chigodora vehemently denied any knowledge of.

These stories suggest a concerning pattern within the music industry of that time. Recording companies seemed more concerned with profit margins than the well-being of the artists who generated their revenue. Artists, it appears, were treated as mere cogs in a money-making machine, with little regard for their creative contributions or basic needs.

A Voice of Caution: Charles Charamba Stands Out

Pastor Haisa concludes by mentioning Charles Charamba, a notable exception to this trend. He suggests that Charamba, perhaps tipped off by someone, managed to navigate the industry more shrewdly. Charamba's story serves as a beacon of hope, highlighting the importance of artist awareness and, perhaps, a hint of an evolving industry landscape where some musicians were able to advocate for themselves more effectively.

Pastor Haisa's revelations serve as a valuable historical record, offering a glimpse into the struggles faced by Zimbabwean musicians in the past. They bring to light the exploitation that existed within the recording industry and the courage of some artists, like Dembo, who dared to fight for fair treatment and recognition. 

His stories not only pay tribute to musical legends but also serve as a reminder of the importance of fair treatment within the creative industry.

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