They say artists foresee death. It seems so did stage play and movie actor Jacobs Mwase, alias Zacharia, who on Wednesday morning succumbed to a gout problem at Thyolo District Hospital.
It was on April 7 2016 when he decided not to keep to himself his mission and career plans.
“As an artist, I am a servant of my fans, but again I have a role to serve my God through my art. I have a mission which I want to accomplish and I will be happy to do that before God calls me,” he said as if envisaging a near death.
Mwase said, after educating the masses on cultural and social issues affecting them on a daily basis, his next mission was to preach and draw people closer to God, but the different way.
He singled out himself from artists that preach about their holiness by announcing their shift from secular to gospel, stressing he would use the same old formula and fight unpalatable behaviour the traditional way.
Said Mwase: “It is a mission segmented into phases. I did research and observed there are more sins, including lies and secrecy, amongst us today.
“I have also noted that love among people is ceasing as we all pretend while sitting on a time bomb to destroy our colleagues. I want to unveil this and fight the culture through my next movie.”
Like a bee, Zacharia said his project would not halt production and distribution of his previous series.
Born 50 years ago, Zacharia rose to fame in the early 1990s as a controversial character that portrayed him uncivilised on particular topics. He featured in several plays, movies and soaps, but his success rests in his own productions, particularly Tinkanena and Moyo series.
Until his death, he was distributing parts one to three of the two productions. He said this was to meet demand.
He said while doing this, he would be in the studios producing the new movie, Chinsisi, to take his fans into the next half of the year and beyond.
But as fellow artist, Zimbabwe’s celebrated guitarists and musician Leonard Dembo sings in his Hazvigone Kuita Zvaunoda, a Shona hit which means it is not possible to do whatever you plan in life because anything you plan on earth is put to halt when death beckons, Zacharia’s mission ends in casket.
Our findings show that his illness crippled the dream. Through Chinsisi, Zacharia looked up to heaven. He said the movie draws sinners closer to God and arrests the culture of secrecy among people—something he described as ruining most people’s spiritual life.
Built from research done by the artist and his long-time ally Frank Yalu, aka Nginde, three years ago, the movie—recorded at Sweet Island Productions—unveils the culture among loved ones who live in secrecy to avoid disappointing their partners.
Despite being Bible believers, the main actors—Zacharia and his wife—chose to live together for years without unveiling their impious behaviours—which at the end turns them into enemies.
Zacharia, a member of the Church of the Nazareen, was not an ordinary artist who produces for money. He sought to change the society and this is well read in Chinsinsi dream.
He will also be remembered for his efforts to arrest piracy as he was among the artists to introduce vending of arts material. While many lament losing more to piracy, vending turned him into a millionaire.
“I am now proud of my talent. Since I went into the streets to sell my products, a lot has changed in my life. I sold Tinkanena Part One and Moyo Series One through distributors, but I can hardly show the products of the two, except that they helped me to make a name,” explained Zacharia.
Mitch Albom once said death ends a life, not a relationship. As he rests in eternity, Zacharia’s relationship with fun lovers will live on.
“What? Why? How did he die?” screamed in disbelief one woman, Angella Selemani, who said she has all Tinkanena and Moyo series at home.
Nginde described Zacharia’s death as a big loss, saying the deceased was a fine writer who used to come up with relevant plays that never disappointed.
He said the two met while in their infancy of their acting career at Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC). He said people quickly recognised their talents, but they did not immediately form a duet.
However, with time they became pals and Nginde says they shared a number of traits. Among others, he said they were born again and so they spoke the same language. He believes this is what sustained their collaboration.
“Zacharia formed Mwambo Arts Theatre as I founded Nginde Arts Theatre. The groups rose to fame uniformly. Realising that Zacharia was the better, I engaged him and this is how our duet started,” he explained, tears trekking down his cheeks.
The duet joined the likes of Izeki ndi Jacob and went on to perform during the visit of Nollywood actress Rita Dominic in 2009.
Until his death, Nginde says he and Zacharia were working together and he features in Chinsisi movie.
“He was the main actor and this [his death] has affected the project. We had invested millions of kwachas alreadyin it. It hurts, but it will depend on family members for its continuity,” said Nginde.
Zacharia’s twin brother Samson said they will miss him because he was more than a brother and son to their family. He said he is the second to pass on in their family of 10.
The deceased came from Mwase area in Likoma and was married with four children. n