From Georgina of Madiro aGeorgina fame to the old lady of Chivi who cooked rocks and made quite a stew of it, to Peggy the ghost, the social history of Zimbabwe is laden with mystical figures. It is no surprise, then, that this has been reflected in the music.
By Shingi Mavima, USA
A recent post by social commentator and friend of EarGround, Marshall Shonhai imploring for more information on the identity of Bobo, the seeming party starter in several Winky D songs, went viral. Within a day or so, the interwebs were sharing a comprehensive profile of the man, and we were all the better and entertained for it!
This riveting experience thus brought us back to the table for an idea we have had for a short while now: what other interesting characters have shown up or show up routinely in Zim music? Who have you heard about that made you say “I’d like to know more about that guy/girl”? Well, we got you.
But before we start, and before folks start pointing out everyone who is not on the list who ought to be, here are some things we considered. First, because several musicians who do shout outs (Winky, Enzo etc) tend to do a lot of them, we’ve decided to keep it at just one character per artist. Secondly, we have not included mbingas, known producers, and other figures whose profile is high enough to be easily Googlable. We have also not included love interests (for the most part), as artists tend to pull names out of the air as stand-ins for the subject of their songs, and we’re not into the messy business of exposing entanglements.
Finally, present author would like to confess that this particular piece has deliberately not been thoroughly researched. With a bit more due diligence, we could probably tell you who all these people are; but we figured it would be more fun if we left it open-ended, and our readers could all chime in (or, better yet, we got a public response from the artists themselves; or better better yet, the characters themselves!)
So here goes: nine mythical figures from the music world!
- Silas Mavende
Zita ndinonzi Silas Mavende; ndenge ndiri ndega ndichikaka dhende
This is the figure that initially inspired these musings. 2022 was a huge year for Sainfloew, culminating in the ‘Best Newcomer’ award at that year’s Hip Hop Awards as well as a NAMA nomination! His rise to prominence was buoyed by the delightful joint, ‘Silas Mavende’, well-deserving to be in the ‘song of the year’ conversation.
But who is this Silas? (And despite what the NAMA nomination card may imply, no, that is not Saintfloew’s real name or pseudonym!)
An acquaintance of this writer, who apparently had the opportunity to ask Saintfloew this very question, posited that the reference is based on a toothless (hence Mavende) security guard from Manyame Park, who is a carefree ghetto legend.
Wherever he is, we say to him “Rugare Kwamuri!”
- Sean Timba
Ndiri kushandira mhuri yangu ufunge, handishandire iwewe, Sean Timba!
This song marked a coming-of-age moment for two of this generation’s most iconic artists. While Sulumani Chimbetu hails from a musical dynasty unmatched in Zimbabwe, and Jah Prayzah had been making waves since the turn of the decade, this juggernaut of an anthem combined Dendera with JP’s signature crooning, humor with social critique, and a whole vibe.
But it left us wondering, who is this unscrupulous Sean Timba fella who had thus irked Sulu and Jah?
While this newspaper article from 2013 tells us where the name itself was picked out from (unrelated to the shenanigans described in the song), It is still fascinating to see how a whole narrative was created around the name, and we still wonder: even if their name wasn’t actually Sean Timba; who inspired the diatribe?
(SN: Sulu could have featured on this list a few times: Alice Mbewe, anyone?)
- Uncle Bucky
Musavasiye Uncle Bucky!
From one artist who has shouted out a couple of people, to one with a voters’ roll worth of shout-outs, we could have gone with Manake, George Norton, Border Blue or any one of Stallion’s several proclaimed comrades here.
But who can forget the iconic opening to “Muchiround”, when Enzo proclaims “Musavasiye Uncle Bucky…” It just seems so…urgent. So…non-negotiable. Don’t you dare leave him behind whenever that call from Sister Kikky comes in!
Who is this Uncle Bucky, and why is it of the essence that we do not leave him forthwith?
I’m gonna sideline ma hoes angu, vana Gamuchirai…
Now, I’d initially said we would not include any love interests on this list, but we had to make an exception due to the cultural pervasiveness of this one. Sure, the first time we heard Mujaya mention a Gamuchirai on Mwana Ndakubirai, we assumed it was a tongue-in-cheek allusion to the meaning of her name. But then she showed up again on Kombi Inonanga Mufombi. Then again on Too Scared. And perhaps others we’re missing. Which makes us wonder; could there be a real Gamu out there somewhere? Who among you gave Ten the Unholy treatment?
Skimbo wakakulya minsamu akuyanda
No, not the funnyman of yesteryear’s fallout with Squanda.
In the climax of arguably the best Sungura song to come out of the past few years, we learn of a Skimbo who, for the love of money, went and got some portions and was eventually fleeced of all funds and cattle.
The mention itself may have been innocuous enough; just the typical Sungura namedrop to drive a point home. But here’s the thing: it comes in six and a half minutes into the song, and is the only name mentioned. It’s almost as if the epic cautionary tale told prior was building to us learning of this one guy and his fate. Plus, his name is Skimbo. Come on now.
King Shaddy is a wild storyteller. From the Mai Huni and Keeper(s) chronicles of the early 2010s to the sociopathic behaviors of his Dancehall peers in Sahwira, mukorokoza has spun many a fanciful yarn. But no character has been synonymous with his storytelling than Danmore. From when, in 2012, the notorious Dhani burglarized Shaddy’s home and took his phone (leaving a distinctive footprint in the process), to the streets pleading for his release, to us meeting his equally unscrupulous sister and, finally (for now) his 2018 return when he lifted Papa Lodza’s underwear right off the washing line! Heck, he even gets a shout-out on Trevor Dongo’s ‘Born in Highfields’ ghetto anthem.
So, fiyo folks, is Danmore a real person? Is he based on a real person?
- Mukoma Bhalubha
ROKESHENI -WINKY D
In the introduction, we made reference to Winky D’s lieutenant, Bobo, one of the few characters who inspired this piece. We also promised to feature just one entry per artist on this list and, since that does not count as one of the ten, allow me to do one more Winky shout out. Come on- let the Gafa in; don’t be like those other guys 😉 .
When did you first meet Winky D’s music? If you are like me, it would be when he barnstormed the streets and the airwaves with the likes of Godo and, relevant to this piece, Rokesheni. In the Lord-of-the-Southern neighborhoods fashion with which he has since become synonymous, Winky D goes through the various ghettos in Harare, shouting out different characters and hostile treatments one may encounter there. In the midst of all that, we’re alerted to Mukoma Bhalubha from Mufombi, who doesn’t pay for public transit, and gets a 90% discount on his purchases! In this economy?
Who is this legend? Given the passage of time since the song’s release, is he still around? Still not paying kombi fare?
- Mudhara Banda
Y’all make it seem like Stunner is not that guy- and I don’t like it. Sure, there’ll be debates about skill and substance, but never about longevity and genre elevation. We forgot how, in the mid to late 2000s and beyond, many of the artists with whom we fell in love with during the Urban Grooves genesis took a backseat as life got in the way, and how Dziva stood in that gap with hit after hit? How he was THE rapper in an urban space where ZimDancehall ws law? Please.
Anyway, over the years, Stunner has also name-dropped several intriguing characters, whether it be the eponymous Dhafu Korera, or Babamudiki Samuel and John Mudyiwa from his breakout hit ‘Rudo Rwemari’ (that was twenty years ago now!) But the colorful Mudhara Banda (2011) has a whole song and narrative dedicated to him, so it’s him. Like a few others on this list, Mudhara Banda is the sort of individual that you find in every neighborhood—old school, sleazy cat with the bowler hat with a wife you’re not sure he has ever really liked, despite being a homemaker par excellence. On this day, he has brought over a slay queen to the matrimonial bed (in full view of the streets, may I say!) and word makes it to Mai Banda, who had mistakenly thought was out of town. Shenanigans abound.
The vividness of this story, complemented by back-and-forth between Stunner and protege Shastro, leaves us wondering; is this a true story? If it was, it wouldn’t be the craziest thing (as stated earlier, we all know a Mr. Banda.) Just wondering if, somewhere on the streets of Glen Norah, this song conjures up autobiographical nightmares in one particular household!
Ndomutenda Changara, Mwari baba ndiwo wakaita agouya pedyo neni
Okay, we may be cheating a bit with this one. Elder Changara is a music promoter best known for unleashing Souljah Love on the world. But having commemorated the second anniversary of Chibaba’s passing, we felt it was only right to conjure his memory by channeling his iconic opening line. So if you know Changara, have stories about him, have pics with him, etc, let it be known in the comments.
There you have it: our nine (mythical or otherwise) figures that have jumped through our speakers into our consciousness, all without the vast majority of us knowing who they are. Do you know them? Let us know in the comments section. Did we leave anyone out? Do tell us.