To those who worship at The New Gospel Church of God in Mbare and Banket in Mashonaland West
Province, Susan Chenjerai (Mai Rwizi) is one of the many pastors who routinely read verses from the Bible. But to the majority of Zimbabweans, she is arguably one of the nation’s best actresses, who dazzled television viewers in the Mukadota drama series in the 1980s. She acted alongside comedian-cum-musician, Safirio Madzikatire (Mukadota). Back then, The Mukadota Family sitcom was one of the leading television programmes that could keep many households glued to their screens.
No one ever imagined that Mai Rwizi, whose natural flair on stage before making the big break in front of the lens made her an instant hit with the audience, would one day abandon the screen for the pulpit.
“Let me put on my best shoes to make an impression to your readers if you publish my story in your newspaper,” she joked, as she prepared herself for a photo shoot with the media. Talking to her, one cannot help noticing that she has not lost her humour, as she makes it a habit to leave people in stitches whenever she opens her mouth.
“Many people thought I was dead but I am still alive and now a full-time pastor at The New Gospel Church of God that my husband Lovemore Bope formed several years ago,’’ she said with a mischievous smile on her face.
Although she made a name for herself on TV, with producers, film directors, family and fans still yearning for her comeback, Mai Rwizi has vowed never to bounce back into acting again. “I cannot go back to acting because the Lord called me and I cannot serve two masters at the same time. Acting was not rewarding and I achieved nothing despite the fame we achieved together with the late Mukadota,” she further explained.
And true to her word, there is a sad story between her and Madzikatire despite the glamourous career they shared. “Bhudhi [Mukadota] signed contracts on all the songs I composed and now I cannot lay claim to my songs because I did not personally sign for the songs. I’m the one who composed the hit song ‘KwaHanyani’,” she said.
Mai Rwizi, who cannot remember her exact age, believes that she was born sometime in the mid-1940s. She is a mother of five and has 44 grandchildren as well as great-grandchildren.