Tobias Areketa is one of the undoubtedly most underrated yesteryear artists to ever come from Zimbabwe. What a vocalists, what a song writer. Most will probably remember him for his part on that epic reggae monster hit song Mugara Ndega by the living legend Hurricane Hugo Thomas Mukanya Tafirenyika Mapfumo.
Did you know the song was recorded in London United Kingdom with two members of Jamaican group Misty in Roots watching over the production? That explains why the song still sounds amazing today. Areketa chanted the lyrics to Mugara Ndega in Jamaican patois and boy did he knock it out of the park, “toasting” it was called back then.
Mugara Ndega and Areketa’s part on that song makes some of us argue that Zimdancehall has had a very solid foundation laid for it by many, many artists, some who have since departed this earth.
Anyway, I digress, I tend to get carried away sometimes and of course it is because I am listening to Mugara Ndega as I write this. Areketa did backing vocals for Mapfumo and played congas for the Blacks Unlimited in the 80s. He toured Europe extensively back the then. The biggest hit most will remember from the late Tobias Areketa and Shazi Band is the song Baba naMai, remember it? //Baba naMai zvamunoita pamusha pano, munogaro tukana mumba vana varipo hamuzivi here kuti zvinokanganisa mhuri? Ndati shuwa munotadza//
I still remember the video, used to play a lot on Mvengemvenge which later became Mutinhimira wemimhanzi/Ezomgido. Another Areketa classic is Vanondituka, beautiful song. You can always hear the reggae influence in his music.
Other songs that come to mind are songs like, Samora Machel, Mapurani, Sara iwe, Uya Iwe, a traditional gospel song, I wanna try, given a new lease of life by Mannex produced by Mono Mukundu a few years back, Baba NaMai too was redone by Alexio Kawara at Monolio Studios. When most people talk about Zimbabwean music history, especially Zim Reggae history, not many mention the Mufakose raised man Tobias Areketa but I believe he deserves that mention.
Areketa has long since died, he passed on at the tender age of 30 in 1990 but his contribution to the local music will live forever.
That Chant on Mugara Ndega will forever remain classic!