Constance van Niekerk in Vereeniging, SA
Bothwell ‘African’ Nyamhondera, one of Zimbabwe’s best producers, sound engineer and drummer is finally back home. He has come back to start work at Diamond Studios in a few days’ time.
Nyamhondera was born on the 11th of May in 1959 in the Eastern border city of Mutare. He started playing music semi-professionally as early as 15 years old. He was a drummer with several bands in his hometown including the famous R.U.N.N. (later the R.U.N.N Family) before he moved to Harare, then Salisbury in 1978.
In Harare he teamed up with the talented internationally acclaimed Louis Mhlanga, Ernest Tanga wekwaSando of the ‘Wake’ and ‘Mahobho’ fame, Henry Peters, Barney de Sousa, Chris Chabuka and Eppias Paradza to form the band Octave. The band however was short lived as Louis and Tanga left the country. He also played with a group called Celebration before joining the very talented Rusike Brothers.
Bothwell then started doing session work on advertising jingles with SHED Studios. He was a drummer in the popular ‘Ngwerewere Sadza’ advert by the talented Rusike Brothers.
As a session musician, he worked with a lot of musicians and bands such as David Scobie, Vuli Yeni, Ashley Parker, the Chimurenga guru Thomas Mapfumo, the Rusike Brothers, Devera Ngwena, the late Dr Love Paul Matavire, the late Zexie Manatsa, the talented men from the east the R.U.N.N. Family, the late gospel great Brian Sibalo and a host of other groups.
In 1982 he joined Gramma Records who had just built a studio as their resident engineer.
Three years later, he started producing for them where he worked with Mitchell Jambo and Marunga Brothers, Jonah Moyo and Devera Ngwena Jazz Band, Zexie Manatsa and the Green Arrows, Thomas Mapfumo and the Blacks Unlimited, the late Sungura giant Leonard ‘Musorowenyoka’ Dembo and Barura Express, and Nicholas Zacharia.
That was not all.
He worked with Khiama Boys, Tineyi Chikupo, Leonard Zhakata, Zhimozhi
Jazz Band, Kenneth Chigodora and The Sweet Melodies, RUNN Family, Zimbabwe ChaChaCha Kings, the late Paul Matavire and the Jairos Jiri Band, and Charles and Amai Charamba and the Fishers of Men as well.
Bothwell also worked with Njerama Boys, The Outsiders, Alick Macheso and
Orchestra Mberikwazvo, Tongai Moyo and Utakataka Express, Shirinhema Jazz
Band, Marshall Munhumumwe and the Four Brothers among others.
Bothwell was the engineer for the internationally-renowned Oliver Mtukudzi on the single “Mbombera” and the albums “Live at Sakubva”, “Nyanga Yenzou”.
And if you remember Party Night by the talented and beautiful Rozalla Miller, Bothwell was the man who played the-drums and produced the song as well.
Bothwell worked with so many artistes it would take a day or two to mention them all.
The romance with Gramma Records/ZMC ended in 2004 when he left to work as a freelance engineer/ producer.
He however continued doing some work for Gramma/ZMC and also started doing work for other production houses like Metro Studios, Crossline Music Video and Fishers of Men Studios.
In 2009, Alick Macheso, Laston Murerwa and Bothwell started a production house called Last Power Media, by which time; piracy had taken the industry by storm.
As a result of that, coupled with economic hardships and other factors the country was experiencing, he felt it just wasn’t worth the time and effort they were putting into productions. He left for the UK to join his wife Spiwe in 2011. After 3 years in UK Bothwell decided it is time to return to what he does best, music. Not to say that he was not producing in the UK, he was a freelancer but now he feels he needs to do it back home on a full time basis.
His return is certainly a big boost for the Sungura genre.