By Constance van Niekerk, SA
Today, the 18th of April is Zimbabwe’s Independence Day. For some, like myself who were not there in 1980, or were too young to remember this historical event, we rely on the vivid accounts of those with sharp memories like ace Zimbabwean author Chenjerai Hove whose reminiscing is as clear as day,
Thousands pack the stadium, singing and dancing. It is a joyous occasion…. It is the arrival of our dignity, freedom, a new self, a new nation, a fresh map of our destiny written in our own ink, even if that ink may be our blood…….. The dancing! Oh, the dancing! The eating! The music! The orderly chaos!
The excitement was so evident and the merriment so unexplainable that it could only be expressed in song! Many a song was penned about this rare, unforgettable experience. Music was a magnificent way to keep this joy and its associated emotions alive. One of these songs is the single ‘Makorokoto’ (Congratulations) by The Four Brothers, the first band that young trainee Bothwell Nyamhondera recorded at Shed Studios and their first hit song! Nyamhondera reminisces:
I had watched Four Bros perform at a club in Highfield in the late 70s and was impressed by Marshall Munhumumwe’s song writing prowess. I used to go to the club quite regularly to enjoy their music. So believe you me when I joined Shed Studios soon after Zimbabwe’s independence in April1980 where I trained as an engineer, the first band I was to record as a trainee was The Four Brothers’ Makorokoto single that went on to become a smash hit. During the session I was so nervous and tense, as you can imagine, knowing that I was working with one of Zim’s top groups. As time went on we became close friends and boy did they produce hit after hit till the end. I miss working with such a creative guy like Marshall. I remember him being a very coy person. When it was time to lay his vocal tracks he would ask me to set up the mic in a secluded corner of the studio where even we would not be able to see him from control room and he also wanted studio lights switched off as he sang. All I had to do was listen to the sweet melodies and lyrics coming from the genius.
The Four Brothers band was born in 1977, co-founded by Marshall Ticharwa Munhumumwe, Never Mutare, Alex Phiri Chipaika and Edward Matiyasi.
The band members were not literally brothers and sometimes they were definitely more than four! Munhumumwe was an uncle of Zimbabwean Chimurenga icon, Thomas Mapfumo.
“Marshall ihanzvadzi yamai vangu baba namai mumwe chete mai ndivo first born/ Marshall is my mother’s brother. They have the same father and mother, my mom is the first born”, explains Mapfumo on his relationship with the late Four Brothers’ lead vocalist, Marshall.
18 April in 1980 was indeed a memorable day, even the reggae icon Bob Marley was there to celebrate with Zimbabwe. Julius Ziva, Zig Zag band guitarist says, ” It is an unforgettable event. Until now I can still hear Bob Marley’s voice booming in my ears.
Those present in 1980 had something to celebrate. What about those present today? Do we have anything to celebrate? Yes, indeed we do. Let us celebrate ‘hope’, for it is the one thing we should never lose. Let us celebrate ‘love’, for the sisterly and brotherly love must never die among Zimbabweans, regardless of the languages spoken, a Zimbabwean is a Zimbabwean. Let us live in harmony where ever we are. For we share the same fate, the same destiny as a nation. Let us celebrate ‘peace’, for we are a peace-loving nation in the truest sense. Let us celebrate something no-one can take from us, our dignity. And remember, no matter where we may find ourselves, we are nothing without integrity. Let us celebrate Zimbabwe at 35 simply because we are Zimbos… And that will never change!
Happy Independence Day Zimbabwe!
Chenjerai Hove article: http://mg.co.za/article/2014-04-16-two-bobs-and-the-wailers-zims-first-vote