Ngwenya Brothers founder opens up

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A FIGHTER with a furrowed brow fortified with determination and a never-say-die attitude best describes Tedious Matsito.
Matsito is the front-man of Ngwenya Brothers, a group that came on the music scene with the force of a tsunami.
Nowadays, the group barely makes a wave on the choppy waters of the music scene. The band’s years of glory have now been overshadowed by misfortune which seems to find the outfit at every corner.
But Matsito, who lost a leg to injuries sustained after an accident in which he lost some band members and instruments, has remained resolute.
He is a musician, not just an ordinary artiste, but a talented songwriter as well as composer, and these attributes have kept him going.
The roaring bright flames might have died down, but the embers remain burning and soon, they may again burst into that once irresistible blaze.
In an exclusive interview with Patriot Arts in Dzivarasekwa, Harare, recently, Matsito said he does not see himself as a failure.
At its peak, Ngwenya Brothers’ fame extended beyond the country’s borders.
Few music groups commanded the type and size of fan-base enjoyed by the outfit.
The story of this group, hailing from the land of sky-poking mountains, Nyanga, is substance for a fairytale.
From this lush and mountainous land emerged five brothers with a dream.
“We wanted to create a sound that would catapult us into the big league in the music industry,” said Matsito.
The group was not interested in just adding to the numbers in the music industry. Thus the Matsito brothers, Tedious, Albert, Jabulani, Michael and Edward combined forces and in 1985, relocated to Glenara Estate in Mazowe to pursue their dream.
Glenara Estate would be their launch pad.
Once settled at the compound, they began to look for musical instruments.
“We were all talented, music-wise, and when we combined forces we produced the unique Ngwenya Brothers sound which many people instantly fell in love with,” Matsito said.
Reminiscing on the old days, he said Albert was a talented lead guitarist, Edward performed magic with the drum sticks, while Jabulani and Michael were wizards on the rhythm guitar.
Tedious was, and still is, on the bass guitar, combining this with being a lead vocalist and composer.
Having given each other ‘duties’, or rather parts to play, it took the group half-a-decade to polish and perfect their craft. For five years, the brothers practised quietly until they were brave enough to face the public.
In 1990 they released their first seven-single album which carried the songs ‘Sekuru Vatenga Mota’ and ‘Zuva Guru’.
And two years later they unleashed the monster-hit album Nyaradzo.
The group was catapulted to instant fame.
Promoters stampeded to the doors of these new kids on the block.
“It was at that time that promoters started flocking to us,” said Matsito.
“We were given the opportunity to spread our music across the country and into the region.”
The name Ngwenya Brothers was not an origination of the outfit, but was given to the group by fans.
“We did not give ourselves this name; it was our fans who called us Ngwenya,” Matsito said.
“As we played, they would chant and comment that vakomana munokwenya, muri Ngwenya and we became known as the Ngwenya Brothers.”
From ‘Nyaradzo’, they not only earned fame, but fortune as well.
“We did not have much knowledge about recording companies and what was expected of us, but we were happy the five years of practising were paying off,” he said.
“Music took us to many parts of the country, places we had never been to and it was gratifying and amazing to see people who did not know our language appreciating the music.”
Songs such as ‘Manyemwe emhuru’, ‘Tigere bho’ and ‘Gede mwana Gede’ followed and further cemented the group as one of the top performers in the country. The music addressed contemporary issues that affected people.
“We had many songs which we had mastered during the five-year period we practised,” said Matsito.
“We composed songs informed by our experiences at work, community and various encounters in life.”
The brothers recorded and released seven albums that include Nyaradzo, Chakanaka Chakanaka, Manyemwe Emhuru, Kugara Nekugara, Muzita rashe and Tumirai Shoko.
In recent years, sungura music has been dominated by new players and other genres, but the Ngwenya Brothers’ music is still being enjoyed and continues to be played, keeping the genre alive.
Sadly, while the band, Ngwenya Brothers, is still in existence, only Tedious Matsito is the surviving member of the founders of the outfit.
Matsito, who now has 14 albums without the original Ngwenya Brothers, believes the group will rise again and restore the legacy of Ngwenya Brothers.
The musician is presently working on a new album due for release in September.

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