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“I HAVE travelled to 29 African countries by road; been to several European countries but I have nothing to offer,” Killen Zhakata tells NewZimbabwe.com with a British accent while in a drunken stupor.
He adds: “I left the country in 1974 to join other freedom fighters but ran away from the war because I realised it was not for me; I heard of, and saw, people dying and being wounded.
“I flew to United Kingdom in 1977.”
Zhakata spent nearly three decades in Europe before returning home.
But he now lives mostly in the Harare gardens among street kids and other vagrants.
He spends his time smoking mbanje and drinking cheap alcohol such as the popular ‘bronco’ – a cheap highly intoxicating concoction from neighbouring countries.
His life story is like a movie script.
Here is a man who says he slept in the top hotels of France, Switzerland, Germany and the UK, eating good food and drinking expensive whisky.
Now he sleeps under bridges and on pavements; picking left-over food from trash bins in the street of Harare.
He claims that after guerrilla training at Mboroma Camp in Zambia, he left for Britain in 1977.
War veteran, Alex Muchemwa, whose nom de guerre was Comrade Douglas Muchadeyi also backed Zhakata’s claim that he trained in Zambia.
Muchemwa, who works as a door attendant at the National Art Gallery in Harare and is a friend of Zhakata, was quick to point out that the latter ran away from the war.
Muchemwa said he was shocked to discover that Zhakata was vagrant on the streets of the capital.
“This one (touching Zhakata’s shoulder) was a coward,” said Muchemwa.
“He did not even want to carry a gun; I was not surprised when I heard that he had run away from the liberation war.”
Muchemwa added: “I was shocked when I met him in Harare Gardens stoned like (as he is now) and I don’t even know why; maybe he leant this life in diaspora.”
Life in Europe
Zhakata says once in the UK, he started working in the Zanu PF London offices as a registrar.
“There I met the late Ndabaningi Sithole and the likes of Johwa Mukono, Tendai Kajama, just to mention a few,” he says.
“In 1979 I was at Lancaster House witnessing the signing of the agreement that ended the protracted guerrilla war between the ZANLA, ZIPRA and Ian Smith.
rolled at London South Bank University to study music and the same year I sent Oliver Mtukudzi a guitar.
“And you know what, when Mtukudzi was here (Harare gardens) for his show he saw me and gave me $100.”
Zhakata claims that while playing with Eranus Band, he had an opportunity to meet the legendary reggae star Peter Tosh, shared dagga and a meal with him in 1982 and even Samaita Zindi when they came to London.
The list of the who-is-who of the music he claims to have met is endless.
He went on to say that after Eranus, he joined all-white Rock and Roll band, travelling to many countries in Europe.
It was during this time he also fathered two children – a boy and a girl with a British and a French woman.
29 years later the man who had wined and dined in Europe’s top hotels would hitch-hike his way back to Africa; tagging up with some white tourists.
The tourists were told he was carrying out research on travel by road; the truth however, was that he was jobless and penniless.
“I was penniless and wanted to come back home. When I got to Nigeria, I sent an SOS to my sister who later bought me an air ticket to fly to Harare.
Regarding his children, Zhakata, spoke with a smile; bragging even.
“The boy was here two months ago and he was staying with my sister in Borrowdale. He couldn’t come to Highfield, that’s where my father house is,” says Zhakata.
“And the girl is coming to visit me too; she is arriving on the 15th of December.”
Zhakata said he is willing to go and live in Europe with his children.
“Yes, I will go and you know what, my boy is big and he told me that he was playing rugby.”
Asked why he had not returned to the music industry, Zhakata said he was much willing to work with the Zimbabwe School of Music; if they approach him.
Zhakata’s elder sister, Felistas Madzudzu, said they had tried their best as a family to send him for rehabilitation but on several occasions he ran away.
“We don’t even know what kind of help he wants from us,” she told NewZimbabwe.com.
“Imagine his ex-wives and children have been sending money for him to stay in rehab and get clean but every time he runs away.”
She added: “We have tried all we can but failed.
“Sometime we go for weeks without knowing where he was, only to be told that he was sleeping in Harare Gardens yet we have homes.
“In any case, he is supposed to use our family home in Highfields.”
His friend Muchemwa said Zhakata would not have benefitted from the gratuities given to other former fighters because he would have been too drunk to go for vetting.
“I doubt he ever heard about it (vetting) because he is always drunk.
“… and besides, he ran away from the war; the money is meant to reward those who fought not cowards like him,” Muchemwa said while laughing at his friend. source-newzimbabwe