Reggae music legend Humbulani “Jahman Chiganja” Muthude.
Famous local reggae legend Humbulani Colbert Muthude, commonly known as Jahman Chiganja, is no more.
One of his staunch fans and colleague, Wilson Dzebu, goes down memory lane and pays tribute to this fallen reggae icon. Dzebu is the communications manager of the Musina Municipality and he writes in his personal capacity.
One Saturday morning last November, my mobile phone rang. When I looked at the screen, I saw the name Jahman Chiganja appearing. I knew he always had something important to say when he called. After his usual greeting of “Ahoy”, he said: “I’m working on my new album and I would like you to listen to it and make inputs before it goes public. This is because I know that you are one of the few people who have a creative musical ear.” I gladly responded: “I will make time to come and spend a day with you while we make the final touches to your album.” He was so happy that he cracked his usual laughter and signed off by saying “Yes I, Man of God.”
Unfortunately, Jahman Chiganja joined his ancestors before I could listen to his new songs. And, painfully, he passed away before releasing the much-anticipated album.
His memorial service at his home village of Mushiru near Halambani on Saturday resembled a Rastafarian social gathering, where a huge crowd gathered and danced to his music, especially the song “Ndo sokou vhifha, thi lengi u nala, thi lengi u kwata” in celebration of his life.
A tribute live concert by local artists turned Lukalo village into a mini-Jamaica as legends such as Colbert Mukwevho, Kenny Murabi, Shufflers Ragimana, Humbulani Ramagwedzha, Hani Mutele, Ntshenge and the Jah Live, Burning Saul Nephawe and Jah Lady Doris brutalized hundreds of villagers and mourners with their music.
Although I was grieving deep inside my heart, I was a bit comforted when Ntshenge Nthungeni of Ntshenge and the Jah Live fame addressed Jahman Chiganja’s wife during the memorial service. He said: “Mia Winnie, don’t worry. We will make sure that the pending album is realised in the near future.”
How did I come to know this down-to-earth reggae legend? We met 10 years ago during the Vhumbedzi Circuit excellence awards, where I was an invited guest. That was when he was still a teacher at Ranndogwana High School. I witnessed when he received one of his countless awards for being the best teacher in agricultural sciences. We exchanged numbers and after a week he invited me to come and visit him at Mushiru.
Although he didn’t eat pork, he organized a piglet that was slaughtered, and we enjoyed the meat and a few drinks while, together with his band, he played live music continuously. His wife, Aidah, was so happy to receive us and she took charge to make sure that everything was in order – starting from sour porridge (vhuswa ha mutuku) and mixed vegetables to a delicious bowl of soup. I could see how annoyed Jahman Chiganja and his wife were when I told them that I was leaving. That is the Jahman Chiganja and Mia Winnie I knew. They loved people!
Last week, my last-born daughter, Humbelani asked me: “Daddy, why are you playing the same music time and again?” Indeed, she could feel that my musical gear has drastically changed as I only played the four albums that Jahman Chiganja left before his death. From Rock of Stability, Acres of Ganja, and Ganja Seeds to Respect Jah, all these albums are spiritually composed and arranged in such a way that all reggae music lovers will nod their heads in concurrence. I was not surprised when, after 24 years of unbroken service, Jahman Chiganja left teaching on 31 July 2014 to concentrate on his music career on a full-time basis. Indeed, he ate, drank, slept and dreamt music.
I fully agree with Jahman Chiganja’s brother, Emmanuel Muthude, who said: “We thought Jahman Chiganja only belonged to us as family, but we were wrong. He belongs to everyone.” I strongly agree with him because, for the past two weeks, Jahman Chiganja’s death caused a major change in the programming schedule of Phalaphala FM as his music and tributes formed part of each programme. I personally salute Phalaphala FM for paying tribute to this great man. I also take my hat off to the production team of the SABC 2 Tshivenda news bulletin, who also honoured this great man.
There are many good untold stories about Jahman Chiganja, but I cannot tell them all today. The fact of the matter is that he had made a mark on this earth.
Indeed, we witnessed when his casket was lowered into the cold earth at his final resting place. He was buried alongside his folks at Mushiru graveyard on Sunday. As per his request, which he jokingly told family members in happier times, the casket was wrapped in a red, yellow and green flag with the words “Jahman Chiganja” and his Spanish guitar on top.
Go well Rastaman; you have joined the major league of Bob Marley, Peter Tosh, Augustus Pablo, Alton Ellis, Barry Brown, Bingy Bunny, Carlton Barret, Dan Taylor, I-Roy, Jack Ruby, Jah Jerry, Junior Braithwaite, Justine Hinds and Lucky Dube. Farewell, Humbulani Colbert Jahnman Chiganja Jump the Gun Munzhongo Muthude - but your music lives on!