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How the media “killed” Biz Nuz’s R. Mashesha

Derick Matsengarwodzi   Every writer dreams to land a scoop. If it is not breaking news – it is a chance to encounter celebrities.  ...

Derick Matsengarwodzi
Every writer dreams to land a scoop. If it is not breaking news – it is a chance to encounter celebrities.  

I first knew of Big Nuz in 2010. Their release had become an anthem in many nightspots. Little did I contemplate that they would have a lasting impact on my musical taste? Their music resonates with an emphatic African beat that instantly connected with me.

The big encounter
Finally that dream became a reality, in 2013.

While I was writing for an Umlazi Magazine, I got an assignment to do a write up on Big Nuz. That was my breakthrough. I arranged the interview date, and then left for Durban, their studio to meet them on a Wednesday, in September.

On arrival, the gate was locked – so I rang the bell.

The response was sharp, “Who told you to come here. There is no one like that on these premises.”

I later learnt that this was Fisherman. DJ Tira, their manager and our link to the ensemble ushered me into the small studio. I sat there for close to an hour, as Fisherman engineered and mastered his beats. We did not say much to each other.

The air was heavy with yesterday’s hectic schedule. Loads of fast food containers revealed a story. I knew it would be a long wait – but it was worth everything I ever hunted as a newshound. This was a chance to converse to one of Africa’s finest Kwaito bands – “Durban’s Finest” as they opt to be known.  

Media – the silent killer
Finally they arrived – minus R. Mashesha. The interview began in earnest. I understand that we scribes can be inquisitive sometimes – but if a person requests privacy, I suppose it has to be respected. I thought to ask about the late Mashesha. What I got was a repulsive response – and I diverted the subject. The African culture says, “You cannot beat a floored man…”, and rightfully so, he was sick so we had to respect that. 

Though I never met R. Mashesha in person, I felt his thumping presence within the group. They spoke glowingly of his contribution. Indeed, when they chant “Ungasabe” – don’t be afraid they mean it. The group has been through a lot. They travelled to Johannesburg in search of fame that eluded them – but they always stuck together until one of them was taken from them.

These were boyhood friends from the vast ghetto of Umlazi who preserved until fame pursued them. Yes, they might be down without the dumpy Mashesha – but their music is still available. And they will always be red hot like before. May your soul rest in peace dear R Mashesha. The world of music is poor without your energy, smile and authority.

Yes, I never met R. Mashesha in person, but his spirit hovers in his echoing chants. At least, I met Big Nuz – a feat that will remain a dream unto many scribes. I understand Mapitsha’s pain – for he knew the deceased since they launched their group years back as a hip hop trial group.   

The accused, abused and afflicted
The raging debate in the media on the HIV status of some artists, not limited to the departed R. Mashesha, has been haunting. As a media hound, I could not afford to ignore the debate – leaving my readers at the mercy of the rumour mill. But then, my conscience reminded me that, they too deserved privacy regarding their health status.

And who are we as information peddlers to judge someone on the basis of their health status. Various publications have pursued the matter until his demise. Why have we become obsessed with celebrity health and financial makeup – and forgotten that they are also human like you and me. 

Many news rooms have been “victims’ of the HIV scourge, but we rarely hear them going public. It has happened before to Oliver Mtukudzi, Somizi, DJ Sbu – and a host of others whose identity has been “accused or abused” in a bid boost circulation statistics. As media, have we become obsessed with getting a scoop and we relegate an individual’s welfare – totally.    

Big Nuz as a group revealed to me that they were involved in charity work to assist the less fortunate. Many bands seldom do this – they only make music, fill their pockets – period! Ungasabe – your name will carry the beacon in your physical absence. And we all know your fighting spirit will always prevail.    

Derick Matsengarwodzi is a communication consultant and founder of The Aloe Media – a communications entity. An ardent researcher and media devotee – interact with him through Facebook or email: Also on: or

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