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DrumBeat: Splits bring mixed fortunes

I told them the following story:


After walking a long journey from obscurity to fame together, the Somanje Brothers — Daiton and Josphat — acrimoniously parted ways and are now pursuing their music careers separately.

Wilfred Tichaona MaAfrika felt that he had gained enough experience in the music waters and decided to jump off the Mbira DzeNharira ship to curve his own floater that he named Mawungira eNharira.

When Ilanga’s smooth road to fortune came to an intersection, the members could not reach a common consensus on the route to take and they branched to different directions.

Such are just examples of band splits that have become a common feature of our music industry. In most cases the splits are born out of mistrust and greed.

Very few, if any, separations would be left out of the “acrimonious split” bracket.

The consequences have been double-barreled, with some leading to the growth of the industry while many have just seen the groups falling from the limelight.

In the 1980s, most band splits led to positive developments. Names like Tineyi Chikupo, Marshal Munhumumwe, Patrick Mukwamba, System Tazvida and Shepherd Chinyani were all off-shoots of some popular groups of that time.

Groups like Four Brothers, Vhuka Boys, Mabhawuwa Express and Khiama Boys were training grounds for most musicians that became popular in that era, some of whom are still making it big in the art.

Such splits were healthy to the music industry although we cannot write off the fact that it led to the demise of some bands.

But then, unlike now, music was more of an art of passion than a commercial venture. So, those that decided to go it alone would have clearly realised that they had all the zeal and capacity to do so.

Special mention goes to Ilanga. Out of the band came names like Don Gumbo, Andy Brown, Busi Ncube and Cde Chinx.

Although most of these musicians are no longer in their original form for various reasons, they managed to stand their grounds commendably for sometime just after parting ways.

But what we see today is a sad scenario of splits that are triggered by financial conflicts.

Seeing a talented band like Afrika Revenge fall from grace due to a split, when it was obviously heading for a good share of the cake of music success, is disheartening.

Watching R&K African Sounds blow away their chance to reach the highest step of the sungura ladder just because of individualism is unbearable.
Just before we could crown Shame and Nathan the kings in serving urban youths musically, the buddies cut the rope that tied their talents together.
While the birth of Mawungira eNharira from Mbira Dzenharira was acceptable, the further splits in the former, which led to formation of many splinter groups, dispersed the talents that had built a solid foundation for mbira music.

Apostolic choral group Vabati vaJehovah branched into Vabati Vevhangeri and recently, Vabati Vajesu but those that follow this type of music would agree that all these groups will never match the original outfit.

It is sad to see talents falling apart because of small clashes that leave our music industry in sores.

The birth of many groups would be healthy only if done for a good cause. Before deciding to go solo, our musicians should seek guidance and do so with a strong conviction that the move is a wise one.

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