Leonard Zhakata

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Leonard Zhakata
Birth name Leonard Karikoga Zhakata
Also known as Karikoga (lit. meaning.- Loner)
Born (1968-02-10) 10 February 1968 (age 49)
Origin Manicaland
Genres Sungura Music, sungura, adult contemporary
Occupation(s) Singer-songwriter, dancer
Years active 1989–present
Labels ZMC
Associated acts Singing and Dancing

Leonard Karikoga Zhakata (born 10 February 1968) is a Zimbabwean musician and singer. He writes and performs songs mainly in his native Shona tongue.[1] Zhakata, who adorns trademark glittering outfits, is best known for his hits Hupenyu Mutoro, Batai Mazwi and "Gomba Remarara". However, it was his 1994 smash hit Mugove, from the album Maruva Enyika, which evaded government censorship[2] and propelled him to national stardom.[3]

In 1994[4] at the age of 26, he became the youngest Zimbabwean musician to sell more than 100,000 copies of an album, when his solo album Maruva Enyika sold more than 120,000 copies.[3][4]

In 2006, Zhakata spoke out about the government and asked for the radio waves to be freed to allow Zimbabweans to operate radio stations. Some of his music is blacklisted by the government and banned on state radio due to perceived political statements.[4][5]

Zhakata is a qualified Fitter and Turner and the only boy in a family of seven. Leonard Zhakata used to sneak from home and play music with his primary school mates. Then at Shiri Yedenga School in Glen Norah, Harare, at the age of thirteen, he had his first music composition "Baba vaSamson". Pursuing school and later serving for an apprenticeship, it took Leonard sometime before he could record. After, the frustration of being turned down by recording companies, he had his lucky break and recorded his first 12-inch entitled "Moyo muti" sometime in 1989, to be followed by an album "Yarira Mhere"in 1990.

Zhakata's songwriting skills continued to rise with the releases of chart busting songs such as 'Tungidza Gwenya' and 'Shungu dzemwoyo'. He however seemed to remain in the mediocre periphery of "Who is Who" on the Zimbabwean music scene, until the release of his mega chartbusting album Maruva Enyika with hit song Mugovein 1994. Backed by a very tight musical outfit, The Zimbabwean All Stars Band and a well choreographed dance display, this album set Zimbabwe on fire during the festive season of the same year. No party was complete without "Mugove" being played. Those who had doubted Zhakata's music mastery had to think again. All albums that followed thereafter Nzombe Huru, Vagoni Vebasa, and three others, established Zhakata within the Zimbabwean music household.

Zhakata nicknamed himself Karikoga, a word that means "Loner." This nickname appears to stem from the poverty he endured as a lone child. In fact, many of his albums have included at least one song dedicated to the suffering masses as well as to people whose upbringing was full of mishaps.

Music rivalries[edit]


  • 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 (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
  • Mutungadzese 8 July 2016


  1. ^ "Zhakata's music educative". 2005-01-09. Retrieved 2009-04-03. Every time prolific singer Leonard Zhakata goes into the recording studio, our knowledge of Shona is enriched [dead link]
  2. ^ Nyakunu, Nyasha (2005-05-12). "Freemuse: Tracing the Footsteps – Censorship and Music in Zimbabwe". Retrieved 2009-04-03. The rapper Leonard Zhakata also evaded the censorship matter with a beautiful song titled ‘Mugove’ whose lyrics ask God to provide for the narrator as he/she is suffering from the rich whilst he/she has nothing 
  3. ^ a b Tafireyi, Colleen (2003-01-05). "New Crop Challenges Veteran Musicians. (05-JAN-03) Asia Africa Intelligence Wire". Financial Times. Retrieved 2009-04-03. Four years later, a young man called Leonard Zhakata stunned both himself and the nation and with the success of his all-time hit song, Mugove, off the album Maruva Enyika 
  4. ^ a b c Kwenda, Stanley (2006-07-07). "Zhakata offers hope for Zimbabweans". Retrieved 2009-04-03. Zora music proponent Leonard Zhakata, whose music has been banned on state radio, has released a gem of an album 
  5. ^ Mashavave, Rhoda (2006-07-10). "Free the airwaves, Leonard Zhakata tells Zimbabwe government". Retrieved 2009-04-03. STAR musician Leonard Zhakata says when he composes songs he does it with no intention to upset anyone, politicians included