reprinted with additions from Newsday

The year 2011 came and passed, and acclaimed prophet and miracle worker Emmanuel Makandiwa was undoubtedly one of the newsmakers of the year.

With the news of his prophetic prowess spreading across the nation like veld fire and his church United Family International Ministries (UFIM) getting bigger each and every minute, some of Zimbabwe’s finest musicians have deserted their old churches for the City Sports Centre where the prophet operates from. Makandiwa offered every musician or celebrity in general a place in the VIP section where they sit in comfort.

Some of the musicians include Leonard Karikoga Zhakata, gospel diva Joyce Simeti, Mahendere Brothers, Peter Moyo, Sulumani Chimbetu, Diva Mafunga and Biggie Tembo (Jnr).

Leonard Zhakata The legendary musician returned to the music arena thunderously with his latest album Gotwe. After being off the radar for a while, Zhakata, who had been at loggerheads with his recording stable, finally overcame the problem and released a scorcher that has placed the wordsmith among those rated the best in the country.

The talented musician has been spotted at UFIM often and in most cases Makandiwa has showered a lot of praises on the musician. Makandiwa even told the congregation at one point that Zhakata was his favourite musician.

Mahendere Brothers The energetic Brothers deserted their ZAOGA church and joined UFIM where they have become prominent in the praise and worship team that is also led by gospel musician Hubert Chigumira. Mahendere Brothers, undoubtedly one of the pioneers of gospel music in the country, also perform before preaching sessions. 

Sulumani Chimbetu The musician is currently under fire after losing some of his best dancers to cousin Tryson. Sulumani’s religious background had been unknown, but with the arrival of Prophet Makandiwa, the dendera maestro has been attending Sunday services frequently. 

Joyce Simeti The ever-rising gospel diva is also a former member of ZAOGA. She joined UFIM in July last year. Simeti said it was a high calling from above for her to desert ZAOGA. “For the past 20 years I was in ZAOGA. It’s not easy to be moved by petty things. ZAOGA is a powerful church. It’s a high calling from God for me to go to UFI,” she said.

Peter Moyo The young Igwe has taken over from where his father left off and it’s clear that for him to succeed in the music industry, he needs strong backing from none other than his Creator. His late father Tongai Moyo Dhewa was a staunch member of Makandiwa’s church. Dhewa joined after he realised he was living with cancer. On June 27, 2011, Dhewa admitted his hope lay in Makandiwa and clearly said he was receiving spiritual assistance from the firebrand prophet.

Dhewa’s son Peter, who took over the reins of Utakataka Express, has followed his father’s lead and has been spotted at UFIM.

Biggie Tembo (Jnr) The struggling heir to the Bhundu Boys music threatened to drop the guitar owing to the poverty that is sweeping over the family of the late musician Biggie Tembo (real name Marasha), who at one point shared the stage with Madonna at Wembley Stadium.

The young musician was lured to Prophet Makandiwa’s church in July last year. After becoming a member of the Makandiwa-led Pentecostal church, Tembo (Jnr) received instruments from well-wishers which saw him holding shows in places out of Harare.

Diva Mafunga Gospel musician Diva Mafunga is one of the few Zimbabwean artists who rose from humble beginnings to pursue a musical career.

His musical career has been going well, putting him among the country’s most-talented gospel artists, but it was in 2008 when the man behind the song “Endai Naizvozvo” was acquitted on allegations of defrauding his employer, Chitungwiza Municipality, that his music career started waning.

Currently the musician has engaged in farming as well as owning a shop in his rural home of Chisodza in Mount Darwin.