Behind the scenes with Kalanga Rhumba (Pt 01): Should we celebrate Kalanga Rhumba yet?

 

The man is well known in the Rhumba circles, in fact he has worked in the studio with prominent Kalanga Rhumba (Tjibilika) groups as a bassist, and I’m not sure whether he was part of the famed entourage to Algeria with Mokis Connection.

We met on a blistering hot day, he had just walked from Nkulumane to Emganwini, we meet coincidentally at a certain Pastor`s house, he for food, me for a church rehearsal. I had once seen him on T.V playing for a prominent Kalanga Rhumba artist, I am dumbfounded to see this famous bassist asking for something to eat from a Pastor. Then this compels me to the big question, “Should we celebrate Kalanga Rhumba yet?”

Everyone in the Kalanga Rhumba circles is celebrating the penetration of this once rural-associated genre into the urban market, the champagne is flowing. Mxolisi “Mr Bones” Ndlovu recently bagged a gong in the inaugural Bulawayo Arts Awards (a feat to celebrate for the young artist), Clement Magwaza is celebrated in Matabeleland and the post-Bakhuzeni aura is yet to die. The champagne is flowing. One lingering question is, as the faces of these music groups are being celebrated and driving modest cars, is the welfare of their band members taken care of? I have been in this industry for quite a while, in fact I lost in the Chibuku Road to Fame finals twice. It pains me to the core to see my brothers and sisters who strum the guitars and mesmerize the revellers with choreography, living miserable lives. Who should they report to, when their standards of living are below the pauper line?

I had a privilege, or I’m supposed to call it a misfortune, to visit the dancers of one of the trending Kalanga musicians in the new township of Mbundane, in Bulawayo. The state of the room they lived in was an epitome of abject squalor. The room was not curtained, they had no utensils, they had one old blanket, and by the way Mbundane is not electrified. It was during the time when the artist had just relocated from South Africa and was racking in a lot of income on live performances, needless to say, he bought a kombi within a short space of time.

These dancers leave their families and are expected to send some remittances back home, what is more worrying is that their bosses assume the petit bourgeoisie stance and pocket all the income from their subordinates’ sweat.

As a parting shot, may our esteemed band leaders, and the faces of our dear Kalanga bands start representing the glory they are collecting truly and give what is due to their band members. I was pained to the core when one female dancer told us  about the improper sexual behaviour exhibited by ourrespected band leaders.

My words come crushing like the giant Iroko in the amazon.

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Post Author: Switchbod

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