Leonard Karikoga Gumiremisewe Zhakata is a renowned Zimbabwean musician.
His music mainly features lyrics in his native Shona language, and he is recognized for his trademark glittering outfits.
Zhakata has gained popularity for several hits such as “Hupenyu Mutoro,” “Batai Mazwi,” and “Gomba Remarara.”
Nevertheless, it was his 1994 chart-topping track “Mugove,” from the album “Maruva Enyika,” that propelled him to national stardom.
Zhakata was born on June 25, 1968. (Age 55, as of 2023)
In 1986, he began his songwriting journey and joined the Marxist Brothers, a music group that included notable artists such as Simon Chimbetu, Nicholas Zakariah, John Chibadura, Daiton Somanje, and Leonard Dembo.
From the group, Zhakata split with his nephew Thomas Makion to create Maungwe Brothers. Simon Chimbetu split with his brothers Brian and Naison Chimbetu to create Dendera Kings.
Similarly, Nicholas Zakariah went on to create the Khiama Boys, while Leonard Dembo and Daiton Somanje also pursued solo careers.
At the young age of 26 in 1994, he achieved a remarkable feat by becoming the youngest Zimbabwean musician to sell over 100,000 copies of an album, with his solo work titled Maruva Enyika selling more than 120,000 copies.
Leonard Zhakata, being the only boy in a family of seven, holds a qualification as a Fitter and Turner. His love for music began at a young age when he used to sneak out of his home to play music with his primary schoolmates.
He composed his first music piece, “Baba vaSamson,” at the age of thirteen while studying at Shiri Yedenga School in Glen Norah, Harare.
After completing his studies and serving an apprenticeship, it took Leonard sometime before he could start recording his music.
Despite facing rejections from several recording companies, he finally got his big break and recorded his first single titled “Moyo Muti” in 1989.
This was followed by his debut album, “Yarira Mhere,” which was released in 1990.
Zhakata gave himself the nickname “Karikoga,” which translates to “the lonely one.” It is believed that this moniker was inspired by the poverty and isolation he experienced growing up as an only child.
Throughout his career, Zhakata has dedicated many of his songs to the struggles and hardships faced by ordinary people.
His music often addresses the struggles of the masses, and he is known for his ability to convey deep emotions and connect with his audience on a personal level.
Gospel Music And Emmanuel Makandiwa
Zhakata announced that he would be leaving secular music behind and focusing on gospel music after receiving a prophecy from Emmanuel Makandiwa, who predicted that Zhakata would become a pastor in Makandiwa’s church.
Following this revelation, some of his band members left him and formed another group, but Zhakata remained committed to his decision to pursue gospel music.
He proceeded to release an album that featured a total of three gospel songs, with the rest of the tracks maintaining a social commentary tone that was consistent with the musician’s traditional message.
The album received mixed reactions, with some people expressing support for Zhakata’s decision to explore gospel music, while others believed that he had lost his touch.
Despite the mixed reviews, Zhakata remained committed to his artistic vision and continued to create music that resonated with his audience.
Zhakata commenting on the album noted that:
I have always been a religious person and I had always been singing gospel music although most people thought it was just social commentary. The type of music that I have been singing in the past always had a gospel connotation to it and it seems some may not have realised. Nothing has changed really.
- Sheshe Yangu, 1989
- Yarira Mhere, 1990
- Shungu Dzemoyo, 1991
- Maruva Enyika, 1994
- Nhamo Dzenyika, 1995
- Mandishorei, 1995
- Nzombe Huru, 1996
- Greatest Hits, 1996 (compilation)
- Vagoni Vebasa, 1997
- Ndingaite Sei?, 1998
- Pakayambuka, 1999
- Kumera Kwezora, 2000
- Original Rhythms Of Africa (ZORA) (also known as Ndiriwenyu), 2000
- Mubikira, 2001
- Hodho, 2003 (once banned in Zimbabwe)
- Udza Vamwe (Spread the message), 2004
- Tine Vimbo, 2006
- Zora meets Mbira (Zombi),2009
- Gotwe (Last Born), 2011
- Zvangu zvaita, 21 December 2013
- Mutungadzose 8 July 2016
- Game Changer (released as a single with 2 versions)
- Musandityire (I am a Fighter), June 2020 (a single off the upcoming album titled Mupendero Wenguva)
- Mupendero Wenguva 14 December 2022
Zhakata is married to Ruth, and together they have four children named Chamu Lionel, Angela Leossa, Petula Pepukai, and Kanotonga Lennon.
This is what Zhakata said about his family:
So many years in marriage, we have four children — Chamu Lionel, Angela Leossa, Petula Pepukai, and Kanotonga Lennon. Chamu did his 1st degree at Africa University, Angela did her accounting degree in China, Petula is doing law in SA and Lennon is doing Lower 6.