I can still hear the echoing of hard-hitting rhythms and well-composed melodies of two electric guitars and a bass guitar piercing through my ears like an arrow. These creative melodies are matched with beautiful unparalleled vocal-voices. The great mastery which was used to make the songs and the production time taken to release an album clearly shows that to these man it was not just an occupation. Songs comprised of well-crafted poetic lyrics – full of deep-rooted meanings. We call it Sungura music. I enjoyed the genre.
Back in the village, my home – Mberengwa, music was the main source of entertainment. We could walk miles to nearby shopping centres just to have a feel of these great melodies. While enjoying the great artistic work, the main debate question that seemed to rock the most was, “Who is better Alick Macheso or Tongai Moyo?” These were the great Sungura artistes of our time. They even rocked the radio stations. It was an endless one – like the contemporary Messi/Ronaldo mantra.
Oh, how can I forget that?
When I am down and feeling lonely – I always reminisce of my childhood events. They give me power, courage and hope. Growing up in a village stereotypically referred to by many as one of the worst backward rural districts in Zimbabwe to where I am right now its magical.
I was raised from the dust!
I remember handful families had radio sets. Usually those that did have one, also had a family member in South Africa – a border-jumper, of course. Usually for those who do, one of the family members would be in South Africa, border-jumper off-course. We called them ‘Ma Joni-Joni’. I was one of them, but that’s a story for another day.
It was chaos during the festive season when the Ma Joni-Joni came back home. They came wearing cheap-white takkies, khaki-side-pocket pants and summer shirts. Oh, how I envied them…
Surprisingly, most of their clothes were new. I wonder!
They brought these big Tshangani bags, full of who knows what. Of course, a radio set is the main asset that one brings home after labouring the whole year in the sunny-tomato-fields of ZZ2 in Limpopo.
For us back home, we did not know how they acquired these treasures. We only debated whose radio sounded louder. In most cases, those who had been given the opportunity to examine these ‘precious stones’ had the upper hand in discussions since they have all information, especially number of watts.
For rural folks like us, it was heaven!
Christmas season was always the best. Our best artists usually released new albums during this period. It was time for sampling the new goodies. We could also showcase our skills of playing Museve (a fast-paced Sungura dance that involves stylistic moving of legs to and fro, accompanied by a swerving body language and hands while covering a small ground). We enjoyed!
I remember, one of the border jumpers came back home – loaded with house music CDs. He was a changed man. He never again listened to Sungura – the music which had brought us up. Rather, he then referred to our favourite music as ‘barbaric’ and ‘backward’.
For me he was a Judas. How can he forget his roots? Just because he crossed the big Limpopo river?
Back then, for me, Sungura was the only genre that one can listen to.
Little did I know that I was black… When I moved to the city, my peers referred to Sungura as ‘black music’. I do not even understand why. They hardly listen to it.