Zimbabweans across the country, but especially from Chitungwiza, are in mourning following the death of gospel musician Cephas Mashakada, who died at Chitungwiza hospital on Tuesday.

Cephas Mashakada (photo by NewZimbabwe.com).

Mashakada’s music career spans decades and was often characterized by controversy, as Zimbabweans asked whether the Chinhoyi-born musician sang the Gospel or was just another moneymaker through music.

Mashakada specialized in funeral dirges and his death has been described by members of the public as an enormous loss to the nation’s gospel music industry. “Mashakada offered us a chance to listen to the funeral side of Zimbabwe. He popularized songs that would move us as a people,” said Alec Machingura a music student.

Mashakada was diabetic and was admitted at Chitungwiza hospital last week after his condition worsened. A source there said, “His diabetic condition had worsened. It was however his kidney failure that eventually killed him and doctors could not do much.”

His wife also confirmed his death. “My dear husband is gone,” she said before breaking down in tears. 

The controversial dreadlocked musician had his leg amputated after he was diagonised with diabetes a few years ago.

To many he was a symbol of hope, as he managed to continue performing his gospel shows despite his disability. Along with the late Paul Mpofu, he formed the formidable group The Muddy Face, which released a number of songs during the late 70s and 80s.

The Muddy Face collaborated with fellow musician Job Mashanda and fostered Amai Mandigona and Denga Rababa. Mashakada and Mpofu had success after Job left, with hits such as Pinyanga, Kilimanjaro, and Nherera.

A larger-than-life figure, Mashakada will also be remembered for fusing his gospel music with secular tunes, something that only added to the controversy. And while other gospel musicians do not want to sing in beer halls, Mashakada did just that and the public will always remember him as the man who gave them extraordinary hit songs such as Samson Haana Mosva, and Vadzidzi Vangu (My disciples).