Celebrating the living legend Zex Manatsa

Zex Manatsa

In a Facebook post made by musician Freedom Manatsa and son to the living legend Zex Manatsa chronicled the history and strides made in his career spanning decades.

Zex Manatsa is a 76-year old music legend from Zimbabwe who made his name with his band, The Green Arrows, in the early 70s and 80s, when they belted hits such as ‘Chipo Chiroorwa’, ‘Musango mune hangaiwa’, ‘Msoro waTsomba’, ‘Vaparidzi Vawanda’, ‘Mundoza’, ‘Mwana Waenda’, ‘Chechule’ , ‘Nyoka yendara’, ‘Muti usina zita’, ‘Tiyi Hobvu’, ‘Dzvinyu’ ,’Gonzo ndiShefu’, Tsuro Soccer star, ‘Chivaraidze’, ‘Baba tipeiwo ndege”, ‘Highlanders’, ‘Makepekepe’ and ‘Tamirira Dynamos’.

By _ Freedom Manatsa

He rose to prominence in the 1970s with his band, The Green Arrows, which he started in Mhangura, Zimbabwe in 1968. In the 1970s and 80s, Zex released many tracks which have proved to be all-time hits such as “Chipo Chiroorwa”, “Bambo Mwakwatila”, “Vaparidzi Vawanda”, “Mwana Waenda”, “Chechule Anavala Bottom”, and “Chimwamuna Chamimba”

Zex launched his musical career in 1959 in Mhangura, Zimbabwe, at the age of 17.
In 1968 Zex joined the Sunrise Kwela Kings and played bass for the group for about a year.
He went on to form the Green Arrows Band in 1969, for which Zex provided lead vocals and played bass.

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Zex Manatsa and the Green Arrows

In 1972, the Green Arrows began writing their own songs to mass appeal and they performed in various townships around Zimbabwe especially Mrewa Centre at a place called paBhora and later on at Jamaica in near Goromonzi along Mutare road.
That is when South African saxophonist West Nkosi, who was also a consultant for Gallo Records, discovered the band and became their producer in the 70s. The resulting album, “Chipo Chiroorwa”, sold so well and the band moved to the capital city of Harare. Their success continued in the 1970s and 80s, as they continued to produce well-received tours and hit records.

Zex Manatsa & The Green Arrows quickly became the tightest, funkiest band in Salisbury, Rhodesia.. Their music was branded ‘wha wha music’ as beacuse Stanley Manatsa’s (Zex’s younger brother and lead guitarist for the group) guitar lines and melodies mostly produced a sound that was quite unique and could not be described except for resounding his common riff that went like ‘whaaa – whaaaaa’ on most of the group’s songs.

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Zex Manatsa and Wife

The Green Arrows’ unique sound was intense, danceable and catchy, yet breezy and laid-back at the same time. Guitar riffs sparkled like stars throughout most of their three-minute-long compositions.

The rhythm section was flawless and the mellow, stoned vocals of mostly males led by Zex perfectly conveyed the band’s overarching message:
‘Forget your troubles for a little while and dance with your fellow human beings – something great might come of it’.

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Zex Manatsa and Wife

In 1979 legendary Zimbabwean musician Zexie Manatsa filled Rufaro stadium (an estimated 60 000) for his wedding to a paying audience.
Image – #AnalogAfrica

This was a type of music one could easily get lost inside of while dancing to the hypnotic, percussive and utterly irresistible melodies that were quite addictive.