Bhundu means ‘bush’ or ‘jungle’, and a Bhundu Boy was a young soldier in the Rhodesian war for independence in the 1970’s.
The Bhundu Boys started out in Harare in 1983, recording for the splendidly named Shed Studios. By the mid-eighties they dominated the Zimbabwean music scene with their infectious hybrid style known as Jit.
Championed by John Peel and Andy Kershaw (remember the Afro-pop boom of the mid eighties?) the band came to the UK in 1986 to promote this LP, Shabini, which went on to become one of the highest selling independents of the year. The sleeve notes included the following explanations of the songs:
Baba Munini Francis (an unfaithful woman and a mystery 'Uncle')
Hupenyu Hwangu (my life - that happy and enduring life of a musician)
Pachedu (a party you have to go to to be noticed)
Zvicha Tinesta (We'll be in trouble - what will we do when our parents die)
Kuroja Chete (Landlords & Tenants - the rent. The same story the world over)
Hatisitose (We are no longer together - you no longer love your wife and have to tell your friends and relations)
Manhenga (Wings - God give me wings to fly to where my spirits are)
Shabini (a drinking den - you only have friends while you have money)
Dai Ndakaziva (If I had known - regrets for what might have been - past is past)
Wenhamo Haaneti (Poor men never rest - the poor work night and day - or starve)
Faka Puresha (Keep up the pressure - an exhortation to work hard for satisfaction)
Ziva Kwawakaba (Don't forget your roots)
Remarkably The Bhundu Boys supported Madonna at Wembley, playing to a quarter of a million people over three nights. You couldn’t make it up…
Their story from then on is littered with tragedy.
Having effectively been thrown out of the band in 1990, Biggie Tembo committed suicide in a mental hospital in 1995. David Mankaba and Shakie Kangwena died of AIDS. As I said, you couldn’t make it up… screenplay anyone?
Kenny Chitsvatsva - drums, backing vocals
David Mankaba - bass guitar, backing vocals
Rise Kagona - guitar, backing vocals
Biggie Tembo - guitar, lead vocals
Shakespeare ("Shakie") Kangwena - keyboards, backing vocals