How young Harare teacher turned London centre into an iconic hub
IN 1982, two years into the new nation of Zimbabwe, Linus Kadzere was a temporary teacher in Harare.
The very artistic educationist — then young, creative and versatile — spent his first pay cheque on the recording of a song.
It was a single, titled Pfumvu Paruzevha, by his favourite artiste and friend Thomas Mapfumo. He was not the original composer, the Chimurenga maestro Mapfumo was. As for Kadzere, he was only 17 years old, at least according to his wife Priscilla.
Kadzere had a strong understanding of local and international music. He then moved to the United Kingodm with his family in 1991. He would always host parties and braais for family and friends and had a knack for lavish gatherings.
And when he turned 40, Priscilla threw him a surprise birthday bash. Guess what she did? Well, she flew Thomas Mapfumo to England from the United States!
Mapfumo was to perform at the event with The Blacks Unlimited for a good six hours, non-stop. The crowd was largely made up of Kadzere’s family members and friends, all based in the UK as well as some relatives who had come from Zimbabwe specially for the big occasion.
Oh what a night it turned out to be for those who attended! Lee, as he was popularly known, also recounted the time he was able to afford his first copy of Mapfumo’s hit record and how his younger self could only have dreamed of the then present moment.
According to his daughter Kirsty Kadzere, also based in the UK, Lee was “an opportunist as well as a genius businessman, his innovativeness and mastermind enabled this”. Prior to his surprise birthday concert, Mapfumo had not been booked to perform in the United Kingdom for three years.
Kadzere saw a great business opportunity to promote Mukanya for the first time and introduce the “British Zimbabwean” community to a new home ground for promoters and Zimbabwean talent, Athena Events Venue, in Leicester.
“This formed a friendship between Kadzere and Mukanya,” Kirsty told The NewsHawks. “Lee was nothing short of a pioneer and there was nothing he couldn’t do.”
After much convincing, The Athena agreed to Kadzere’s proposal and re-opened as a multi-discipline events venue, with Thomas Mapfumo being first to take the stage at the venues re-opening. The Athena Events Venue continues operating today and fully booked.
“It was a great venue for me as it allowed more people to attend,” said Mapfumo.
“I was happy that the show was being organised by a Zimbabwean.”
Mapfumo remembers Kadzere as one of his long-serving promoters he had much respect for and a great friend.
The Athena was originally an Odeon Cinema in 1936 which closed for most of the 1990s and remained vacant up until 2005, when Lee convinced the owners to re-open for his promotional tour and guaranteed them business after the event.
Born in Nyanga in 1965, Lee migrated to the United Kingdom in 1991 and established businesses which wife and children are still successfully operating today. Sadly, Lee passed away on 6 August 2021, after his business trip back home.
His death was a great loss to the British-Zimbabwean diaspora community as well as those who knew him well. Lee’s legacy continues to be celebrated today through Kirsty Kadzere (25), who founded an entertainment company based in the United Kingdom,
The Greatest Shumba Entertainment Limited, in memory of her late father. The name of the company is derived from the Kadzeres’ ancestral totem — the lion.
Already, Kirsty continues her father’s legacy of entrepreneurship with her first big upcoming event being the memorial concert.
“As Mapfumo is preparing for his retirement, the family has decided to open this lavish memorial concert to the public to witness Mapfumo’s legacy as he headlines one of his last shows ever with a three-hour set, in memory of his late friend, Lee Kadzere,” Kirsty said.
Dubbed the “#Linus’LegacyofLove Memorial Concert”, it is scheduled to take place on 6 August 2023 starting at 2.30 pm at the Athena Events Venue, Leicester, United Kingdom. The night will kick off with a twohour performance by one of Zimbabwe’s gospel artistes, Mathias Mhere and The Saints of God.
“Mhere and Lee became family after their first encounter. Mhere’s hit single Matables was the song that made Lee a huge fan of the artiste and the two saw one another as father and son. “Mhere went on to perform at Lee’s funeral and first anniversary in 2022,” Kirsty told The NewsHawks.
She said two more highly anticipated Zimbabwean artistes, who will soon be announced, will also be on the line-up with two-hour sets each. She added: “Lee had a love for music and alcohol, particularly whiskey.
He was a whiskey connoisseur, and The Greatest Shumba Entertainment is giving their guests a chance to gamble on themselves!
“Don’t miss out on a chance to win a bottle of Kadzere’s favourite whisky, a limited-edition Ghost and Rare Johnnie Walker Blue Label 70cl, with a RRP of £260 for only £8 per raffle ticket! Keep your eyes peeled on their social media for further details and future announcements. You don’t want to miss out on this night to remember,” she said.
According to Kirsty, The Greatest Shumba Entertainment is planning on bringing its events to Zimbabwe as well as the United Kingdom, with global acts in the foreseeable future. “We look forward to seeing this vision come to life,” she said