HomeArtsSizwangendaba, the pride of the Nambya people 

Sizwangendaba, the pride of the Nambya people 

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By Fidelis Manyange 

THE Nambya are an ethnic group based in the north-western parts of Zimbabwe, around the coal mining town of Hwange, surrounding areas of the Victoria Falls, Pandamatenga and Chobe. 

Hwange Town and the Hwange National Park were named after the BaNambya King Sawanga , who was later called ‘Hwange’ by the Nambya people. Between Hwange and Victoria Falls lies Chief Shana’s area, with a village called Ntiba, which is where prominent Nambyan musician Sizwangendaba Ncube hails from. 

Sizwangendaba, who inherited the mighty Kwejani Band from the late Christopher Shoko of ‘Bupenyu’ fame, was born 55 years ago at Lukunguni Clinic. 

He developed an interest in guitars during his primary school days at St Michael’s Mbizha Primary School when a friend, John Mathe, taught him how to play the stringed instrument in 1984. 

After completing his Grade Seven, his parents could no longer afford his school fees since they were poor. Sizwangendaba joined Christopher Shoko’s Kwejani Band as a rhythm guitarist and backing vocalist in 1995. Shoko was already an established musician by the early 1980s. Shoko is popular among the Nambya people for being the pioneer of recording music in their language and popularising it on radio. Under Shoko, as Kwejani Band, Sizwangendaba enjoyed well-attended live shows in Hwange, Victoria Falls, Binga and Dete areas. 

The former freedom fighter and musician, Solomon Skuza, also had a stint with the Kwejani Band. ‘Kwejani’ is Nambya for ‘to try’ or ‘kuedza’ in Shona. The band was very accommodative and acted as a springboard to some prominent musicians from Matabeleland. 

Sizwangendaba was involved in recording three albums with Shoko; namely, ‘Ubabazala Wami’, ‘Igunda’ and ‘Gombekombe’ before passing on. Sizwangendaba took over the leadership of the band and recorded more than 10 albums to date; namely, ‘Vhukuzenzele’, ‘Salani Zwenu’, ‘Akohlwanga’, ‘Umuziwami’, ‘Unyawolutsha’, ‘Manho’, ‘Wenzeni’, ‘Wachita Chibontu’, ‘Kungakonani’ which was recorded in Bulawayo at Jeys Marabini’s studio, ‘Chijalamatanga’, ‘Majelasi’, ‘Keresia’ and ‘Kuzhala Kuti Pamu’. The rendition of the song ‘Bupenyu’ made him popular on ZTV and YouTube which clocked over 75 000 views. 

Sizwangendaba’s songs ‘Wakwenda’, ‘Busukwa’ and ‘Kuzhala Kuti Pamu’ are currently receiving extensive radio airplay almost on a daily basis on National FM and Radio Zimbabwe as they have become the people’s favourites. 

Sizwangendaba is among some of the unfortunate artistes from Matabeleland whose music has been well received on air and social media countrywide but are ignored by local promoters for live shows. It’s high time local promoters organised live collaborations involving Matabeleland and Harare-based artistes in both Bulawayo and Harare. 

Artistes like Majahawodwa Ndlovu, aka Jeys Marabini, Sotsha Moyo of Black Umfolosi, Ndolwane Super Sounds, Obediah Matulana and others have a created a strong fanbase throughout the country, especially in Mashonaland, but the promoters are not doing enough to involve them in their shows and capitalise on their popularity. 

Sizwangendaba and his Kwejani Band had been quiet for almost eight years but made a surprise come back in 2019 with the recording of the album ‘Kungakanani’, which he said was dedicated to some people who were beginning to doubt the existence of the group. Since then, the musician — who sings in Nambya, Ndebele, Kalanga and Tonga — has never looked back and is still recording and holding shows though currently confined in Matabeleland. 

Besides Sizwangendaba, the two other surviving Kwejani Band members who were left by the late Christopher Shoko are bassist Moses Ndlovu and lead guitarist Michael Dube. Sizwangendaba is among those who sing in the so-called minority languages like Chihwesa, Chewa, Tonga, Bemba and Khoisan, among others, and he is getting reasonable airplay on the local radio stations. 

Our Government has catered for those languages by allowing private broadcasting stations to operate in the country. So far, the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe (BAZ) has registered about 14 community radio stations dotted around the country, notably, Ntepe-Manama, Lyeja FM, Ingqanga, Radio Bukalanga, Bayethe FM, Beitbridge-Shashe, Twasumbuka FM, Avuxeni FM, Vemuganga FM, Ndau CRT and Kazambezi FM

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