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The Enduring Legacy of Sungura Music

Made by Kuda (MADE IN ZWE), a gift to Plot Mhako and the earGROUND vision.

The Enduring Legacy of Sungura Music

Sungura music remains Zimbabwe’s leading genre, this is despite the rise of other genres like Zimdancehall and Zimhiphop amongst others. Sungura emerged just about the same time Zimbabwe was gaining independence from colonial rule. Sungura is the ordinary people’s music, who are the majority.

By Marshall Shonhai

This music style is defined by distinctive lead vocals with infectious, sing-along choruses, accompanied by rapid-fire guitar riffs played by usually three guitarists, a driving bass line, and pounding drums. This combination creates a high-energy and fast paced sound.

Sungura was mainly popular in the mining and farming communities of Zimbabwe before spreading across the whole nation like a veld fire. These communities had a huge number of Mozambiquean and Malawian immigrants, which is why most of the genre’s artists have very strong links and roots with those two nations.

Whilst artists like Ephraim Joe, Nicholas Zakaria, Alick Macheso, System Tazvida, Leonard Dembo, Simon Chimbetu, John Chibadura, Leonard Zhakata, Marshall Munhumumwe amongst others have gained national prominence by being masters of this genre. They have not done this work alone.

One of the things synonymous with Sungura music is dancing. Yes, Sungura is not sungura without that fast paced leg work.

Before Tongai Moyo’s Utakataka Express or Macheso Franco Slomo Dhaka, maJuice or the recently “unveiled” Kariba there was John Chibadura’s Bata Sinoio popularly known as Manyowa.

The same way dendera was incomplete without those well dressed dancers, is the same way band revanhu Orchestra Mberikwazvo is not complete without Borrowdale, Zora butter and razorwire.

Whilst Macheso came out recently to say “kutamba hakurire, wire ndidzo dzinorira” meaning the guitars are more important than dancing. Sungura is incomplete without those nimble-footed dancers.

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Mr Chitungwiza’s act was not complete without his sidekick on the stage with him. His combination with Manyowa was the correct formula for this style of music.

Many of us might have known Manyowa alongside Chibadura, Manyowa was actually discovered by Safirio in the farming town of Mvurwi in 1979 and was part of his band for close to seven years before joining Chibadura’s Tembo Brothers.

Manyowa is still there and going strong but is now based in South Africa’s Limpopo Province. The legend is reported to have fallen on hard times and reduced to dancing for small change in Thohoyandou. That is Zimbabwe for you, many of our legends do not have good endings.

Whilst that maybe his reality currently, this will never take away from the legend Manyowa is.

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Made by Kuda (MADE IN ZWE)
A gift to Plot Mhako and the earGROUND vision.
Truly, for the culture.

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