Leonard Karikoga Zhakata
June 25, 1968
Leonard Karikoga Zhakata is a popular Zimbabwean singer, songwriter and dancer who produced many hits since 1989. He rose to stardom in 1994 with his smash hit 'Mugove', from the album 'Maruva Enyika' which became a street anthem. He broke new ground in the music industry by becoming the youngest and the first Zimbabwean solo musician to sell more than 100,000 copies of an album. At 26, Zhakata sold over 120,000 copies for his 'Maruva Enyika' album in 1994.
Leonard Zhakata was born on 10 February 1968. He is the only boy in a family of seven children. He grew up in Rusape where as a child he was exposed to the liberation war against the Ian Smith regime. He then became one of the smallest war collaborators at a very young age.
Zhakata grew up with a passion for music that can be stretched as far as his primary school days at Shiri Yedenga School in Harare's Glen Norah suburb. He used to sneak from home and play music with his primary schoolmates. At the tender age of thirteen, he defied the odds by composing his first-ever song "Baba Samson". Professionally, he started singing with the Maungwe Brothers, comprising of him and his cousin, Thomas Makion. The duo went on to release two albums in the late 1980s before splitting to pursue solo careers. That is when Zhakata rose to prominence with his 1994 solo album “Maruva Enyika”, which spawned the huge hit “Mugove” and sold more than 120 000 copies. Later he named his music “ZORA” (“Zhakata Original Rhythms of Africa”) which is his trademark. in 2009, together with Virginia Mukwesha launched what they called Zombi. This simply means “Zora Meets Mbira”. The two then went on to release a ten track album which is a real fusion of the two beats of mbira and sungura. After a wanning career, the talented musican came back in 2013 with his latest album 'Zvangu Zvaita'. One of the songs on the album made it to National FM's top 40.
In 2017 he walked away with $2 500 for claiming top position on Radio Zimbabwe's Coca-Cola Top 50 music chart, $2 000 for earning second position and $1 500 for also getting position number three. Zhakata had the top 3 songs on the chart.
Banning of his Music
It was in 2003 when he realised that his music had been banned on all Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) channels. Since, ZBC was the sole broadcaster then, he has to take action to find out why his music was banned. He then approached the then ZBC Chief Executive Officer, Munyaradzi Hwengwere who professed ignorance at the ban. From there on he was constantly attacked by the state-media which potrayed him as spent force. In his own words, That time was the 'worst as far as his music carer is concerned. The raison detat for the banning of his songs was that they were Politically incorect as they were linked to the opposition party Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).
The talented artist grew up in a poor family and he reflects this in his music. He is probably the greatest wordsmith in local music and his songs are saturated with lyrical depth. Although his music addresses social issues affecting the common people, others view the singer as part of the opposition, using his music to attack the government. In 2003, he released his album 'Hodho' which did not receive any airplay because it was banned. The album carried songs like One of the singles on the album was 'Mirira nguva' (Wait for your time). The track which deals with the situation of the underprivileged in Zimbabwean society was never perceived as such. By telling them that "their time will come", Zhakata says he meant to encourage the poor.
In 2012, the ZORA king was appointed the Zimbabwe Rural Schools Library Trust’s Goodwill Ambassador Leonard Karikoga. He is expected to work with other artists to produce an album that promotes the development of school libraries in Zimbabwe.
In 2012, prominet prophet Emmanuel Makandiwa prophesised that, Zhakata will become a pastor. Zhakata, who is a regular at Makandiwa's United Families International Church (UFIc) accepted the prophesy amid wide ululations from the congregation. This has led at least five of his band members to desert him as he constantly cancels shows to concentrate on God's work.
Zhakata's Attempt at Gospel Music
Zhakata made the pronouncement that he would abandon secualar music and focus on gospel music following the prophecy which had been issued by Emmanuel Makandiwa saying that Zhakata would become a pastor in Makandiwa's church. When he announced his impending departure from secular music, some of his band members left him and went on to form another group. The musician went on to release an album but the album only had three songs which were gospel with the other songs maintaining a social commentary tone, consistent with the musician traditional message. It was reported that there were mixed feelings over Zhakata's album with some not seeing anything wrong with the musician making an attempt at gospel music while others were convinced that the musician had lost it. 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.
The Mugove hitmaker was also incorporated by a gospel artiste by the name Tauya Murisa, this was the first time that the musician was involved in gospel circles prior to the release of his "gospel" album titled "Zvangu Zvaita".
- Yarira Mhere, 1990
- Maruva Enyika, 1994
- Nhamo Dzenyika, 1995
- Mandishorei, 1995
- Nzombe Huru, 1996
- NN 1995 KLZ5, 1996
- Greatest Hits, 1996 (compilation)
- Vagoni Vebasa, 1997
- Ndingaite Sei?, 1998
- Pakayambuka, 1999
- Kumera Kwezora, 2000
- Original Rhythms Of Africa, 2000
- Mubikira, 2001
- Hodho, 2003 (banned in Zimbabwe)
- Udza Vamwe, 2004
- Tine Vimbo, 2006
- Zombi,2009 
- Gotwe, 2011
- Ndiriwenyu(bhora rembabvu & Tarisiro among other songs) Year unknown
- Zvangu zvaita, 21 December 2013
- Leonard Zhakata is a qualified fitter and turner
- FAMILY LIFE, Retrieved: July 9, 2014,
- Blacklisted – My Personal Experience, Freemuse Retrieved: 7 Apr 2014
- Problem Masau, Band members dump Zhakata, The Herald, Published: 9 Aug 2013, Retrieved: 7 Apr 2014
- Wernsbach, Virginia Mukwesha & Leonard Zhakata: Zombi, Into Africa, Published: 25 Jul 2009, Retrieved, 7 Apr 2014
- , IH, Forgotten Leonard Zhakata releases new surprise album titled zvangu zvaita, iHarare, Published: 24 Dec 2013, Retrieved: 7 Apr 2014
- Resurrection: Leonard Zhakata hogs limelight on Radio Zim 2014, Southern Eye, Published: January 16, 2015, Retrieved: June 25, 2021
- Serginho Roosblad, Reflections of a banned musician: Leonard Zhakata, 'Radio Netherlands World Wide Africa', Published: 1 Oct 2013, Retrieved: 7 Apr 2014
- Danil Berejena, Leonard Zhakata still in the Game, 'NewsDay', Published: 6 Feb 2014, Retrieved: 7 Apr 2014
- ND, Zhakata to Become Makandiwa's Pastor, 'News DzeZimbabwe', Published: 21 Dec 2012, Retrieved: 7 Apr 2014
- Tawanda Marwizi Zhakata evades gospel mission, The Herald, Published: December 24, 2013, Retrieved: January 14, 2015
- Wadzanai Madhibha [ https://www.newsday.co.zw/2014/02/24/mixed-feelings-zhakatas-album/ Mixed feelings over Zhakata’s album], NewsDay, Published: Fecruary 24, 2014, Retrieved: January 14, 2015
- Di, Leonard Zhakata Discography, 'Discogs', Published: ND, Retrieved: & Apr 2014