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All That (African) Jazz

Fanzines for Zim’s musical fallen heroes

By Constance van Niekerk, Vereeniging S.A It is embarrassingly common to not be appreciated in your own community. It has been this way since the time of Jesus. So when a British man is the one appreciating Zimbabwean musical greats by creating fanzines for them, we are not surprised but ashamed! Roy Mitchell is a British man who has created a fanzine for the Bhundu Boys and is in the process of creating one for The Four Brothers. They are named from the bands’ tracks ‘Shabini’ and ‘Makorokoto’ respectively. These two bands wowed us with their music and kept us glued to our television sets especially the much revered Mvengemvenge. Some of Biggie Tembo and the Bhundu Boys’ most popular songs are Jit Jive, Hupenyu Hwangu, Kuroja Chete, Hatisitose, the legendary Simbimbino and the unforgettable Baba Munini Francis just to mention a few. They were described by BBC DJ Andy Kershaw as, “…the single most natural, effortless, catchy pop band I’ve ever heard.” While Marshall Munhumumwe  and Four Brothers delighted us with classics such as Vimbayi, Rudo Imoto, Mbereko Yaramba, Mambakwedza,Pfimbi Yemashoko, Wapenga Nayo Bonus, Siya Zviriko and Rugare just to mention a few. BBC Radio 1 DJ Jon Peel described them as, “…the best live band in the world.” image Roy talks on how he fell in love with the Zimbabwean Jit bands: I have never been to Zimbabwe but I would love to go one day as it must be a beautiful place with great people and fantastic music!! I first heard the Bhundu Boys when they appeared on TV in Britain in March 1987. They were on the Saturday Night Live show hosted by Ben Elton and they performed Hupenyu Hwangu. As soon as I heard the first few notes I was hooked and I knew that music was never going to be the same for me ever again – the music of the Bhundu Boys was so magical and special. It would have been great to understand the lyrics which the Bhundu Boys were singing but it didn’t spoil the enjoyment because the music was wonderful and infectious that it seemed to cross the barrier of language. It was as though language wasn’t necessary when listening to the music of the Bhundu Boys. The music touched my heart and made a connection with me on a deep level. The story of the Bhundu Boys was such a tragic one, they had such bad luck and were hit by one tragic death after another. But they were also hampered by outside influences like record producers and record companies over here who saw them as something to exploit and make money from. They persuaded them to change their style of music and sing some of their lyrics in English. They tried to make them in to a novelty pop band and this changed the essence of the group and took away their originality, which was what had made the fans fall in love with them in the first place! The Bhundu Boys and The Four Bothers, Zexie Manatsa, Leonard Dembo, Robson Banda and other legends that are no longer with us, their music should be celebrated, especially in Zimbabwe where they should be remembered as musical heroes. This is what I am trying to do with both fanzines – Shabini and Makorokoto. To those who are not familiar with the concept of a fanzine, it is a magazine written by fans. The word comes from fan magazine – fanzine – and are written by fans as a tribute to their favourite pop group or film star etc. They are meant to be a celebration and appreciation of their career and contribution. ‘Shabini’ and ‘Makorokoto’ fanzines  intended as a tribute to the Bhundu Boys and The Four Brothers. They are a celebration of their wonderful music and will hopefully give the fans a chance to show their appreciation. But we must also not forget that both groups have legacies where we can show our support. Rise Kagona is still writing and performing music in the UK with his Jit Jive Band. Biggie Tembo’s son – Biggie Jnr – is also trying to make a career in music and has so far released two brilliant albums! And Marshall Munhumumwe’s son Charles is also trying to keep alive the music of the Four Brothers. And many musicians in Zimbabwe today have been influenced by musical heroes such as the Bhundu Boys, the Four Brothers, Robson Banda, Zexie Manatsa and Leonard Dembo so there is much to celebrate and remember! Hats off to this man who is taking his time and energy to ensure that the memories of our Zimbabwean musical heroes are kept alive. The good news is that the fanzines are available free of charge. “The Bhundu Boys seem to have been ripped off over the years with regard to unpaid royalties and various other things. So I’m not about to add to that by producing a money making fanzine – it will be FREE!!” Roy says. ‘Shabini’ fanzine is available now by emailing Roy at popsicleape@gmail.com, with ‘Makorokoto’ due for release in early April. image If you are looking for dirt and scandals, then the Bhundu Boys fanzine will disappoint you. The fanzine has 48 pages of nothing but pure Bhundu magic especially on their time in the U.K. It is filled with interviews, reviews, photos and articles related to them from way back. The cover page is written ‘Shabini’ in a beautiful coloured print. Right under it are the words, ‘Bhundu Boys Tribute Fanzine, Issue 1 March 2015.’ Then there is a picture of the Bhundu Boys playing on Kershaw’s Whistle Test. Beneath are the words ‘Mhururu Mhururu Mhururu!!!’ This is a most amazing collection and would be even better if photos from friends and relatives are also included. We shall always remember music’s fallen heroes who are too numerous to mention, we shall forever be grateful for the young lives they inspired and every life they touched with the melodies they sang, every song forever in our hearts, every moment treasured by families and fans alike. May their souls rest in eternal peace. image The battle we have now is to try and honour them as they rest, or as they live (for some of them are still alive and playing music) in their own world’s, in their own communities.

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About Editor

Constance van Niekerk is a South African-based Zimbabwean-born creative writer, poet, music lover, spoken word artist, freelance writer, blogger and educator. She has contributed to several anthologies and published her own collection, Echoes of My Heart: A Poetry Collection available for purchase on all Amazon Stores Worldwide. She is also Editor at ZimOnlineNews. Follow her on Twitter : @convanniekerk Connect with her on Facebook and Linkedin.

Discussion

2 thoughts on “Fanzines for Zim’s musical fallen heroes

  1. Very inspiring!!

    Liked by 1 person

    Posted by Dakarai Mashava | March 26, 2015, 07:38

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Echoes of My Heart: A Poetry Collection by Constance van Niekerk

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