Zim’s best musicians between 1990 & 2000

Last week, I compiled a list of 20 top musicians of the 1990s. I gave you the first 10, with brief descriptions about them. These included Thomas Mapfumo, Paul Matavire, The Bhundu Boys, Simon Chimbetu, Tongai Dhewa Moyo, Andy Brown, Lovemore Majaivana, Leonard Zhakata, The Runn Family and Leonard Dembo. This week I continue with the other 10.

in the groove with Fred Zindi

Oliver Tuku Mtukudzi

Oliver Tuku Mtukudzi

Oliver Mtukudzi

Award-winning and Unicef Goodwill Ambassador Oliver Mtukudzi has had a long history in Zimbabwe’s music industry.

It is impossible to write about all his achievements in such a short space. To date, he has recorded 65 albums and toured the world. He has collaborated with international artists who include Hugh Masekela, Ringo Madlingozi, Carlos Santana, Taj Mahal, Baaba Maal, Toumani Diabete, Judith Sephuma, Louis Mhlanga, Lucky Dube and several others. In 2013, he was inducted into the Afro-Pop Hall of Fame in New York in the United States and appeared on the front cover of the prestigious Time Magazine. In addition, the superstar was honoured with a doctorate in Ethnomusicology and Choreography by the Great Zimbabwe University.

Mtukudzi was born on September 22 1952 in a family of six. As a solo artist, he had a series of successes shortly after Zimbabwe achieved independence in 1980. His early hits included Dzandimomotera, Ndiri Bofu, Nyarara Mwanawe and Ndipeyiwo Zano. Later hits include Sarawoga, Vhunze Moto, Tsimba Itsoka and Eheka Nhai Yahwe.

James Chimombe

James Chimombe was born in 1951 in Chivhu. He attended school in Highfield and that is where he first learned to play the guitar. Among the various bands he performed with were the Pop Settlers, Acid Band, Ocean City Band, Huchi Band and the OK Success. His first hit in 1982 was entitled Chigwaya.

Chimombe later joined the Ocean City Band as a lead vocalist and guitarist. This marriage proved to be the peak of his career as most of his well-known hits today such as Cecilia, Siya Waoneka, Mavanga and Jikinya were recorded with this group. The biggest hit was titled Bindura and it earned him the nickname “Bindura”.

Chimombe died on October 23 1990 at the age of 39.

John Chibadura

Born John Nyamukokoko, John Chibadura was born in 1957 in Guruve. In 1962, at the age of five, he lost his mother and his father re-married a woman who was tough on him.

Chibadura later moved to Chitungwiza where he was soon to become popularly known as “Mr Chitungwiza”. His group was known as Tembo Brothers. Together, they churned out some memorable albums such as Vengai Zvenyu, Sara Ugarike, Sango Rinopa Waneta, Pitikoti Government, Ndirimuhondo, Mune Majerasi, Kugarika Tange Nhamo, 5000 Dollars Kuroora and Munhu Haana Chakanaka.

Chibadura toured the United Kingdom and the Netherlands in the early 1990s. He also toured Mozambique where he was so popular that he only played in stadiums where his audiences at some point exceeded 40 000. In Mozambique he was often met by former president Joaquim Chissano. Though most of his life was spent in Zimbabwe, Mozambicans regarded him as a long-lost son and when in the country, he would be ferried to concerts by the presidential helicopter.

Chibadura died in 1999.

System Tazvida

System Tazvida kicked off his career when he was a lead vocalist for the Spiders, together with Cyril Shonhiwa.

Things started happening when he joined Khiama Boys and released the hit song Mabhauwa. After that, System Tazvida formed Mabhauwa Express with Cephas Karushanga and Tineyi Chikupo. In 1993 he formed Chazezesa Challengers, made up of ex-members of some of the bands he had been with over the years.

His biggest hit was Anodyiwa Haataure Manyepo. He died in 1999.

Alick Macheso

Arguably “The King of Sungura”, Alick Macheso was born in 1968. He grew up on a farm in Bindura. Macheso says it was the music of the great Devera Ngwena Jazz Band that inspired him to take up the guitar, which he started playing at the age of nine.

In 1984 things began to take shape when he joined Nicholas “Madzibaba” Zakaria to form the Khiama Boys.

With Khiama Boys, in 1984 they released their debut single Mabhauwa. The song was an instant hit. Vocals for the song were done by the late System Tazvida. Other musicians who participated included Cephas Kurashanga and Nicholas Zacharia.

Macheso decided to splinter from the Khiama Boys in the late 1990s. Assembling Orchestra Mberikwazvo with the help of Rise Kagona, formerly of Bhundu Boys, Macheso set off a niche on the Zimbabwean music scene. Although his first two albums, Magariro in 1998 and Vakiridzo in 1999 were not phenomenal, the third album, Simbaradzo, proved to be a gold mine as it sold 350 000 copies. His trademark bass-strumming technique, along with his flamboyant Borrowdale dance, gave Macheso attention from all corners of the music industry.

Chiwoniso Maraire

Chiwoniso Maraire

Chiwoniso Maraire

Chiwoniso Maraire was born in 1976 in Olympia, Washington in the United States. The daughter of the late Abraham Dumisani Maraire — a famed mbira player and master — Chiwoniso soon became an accomplished singer, songwriter and exponent of Zimbabwean mbira music.

She later joined The Storm, led by Andy Brown with whom she later had two children.

In 1995, Chiwoniso recorded an album titled Ancient Voices where she mixed the traditional and modern beats and used both contemporary instruments and traditional African instruments such as the mbira, hosho and ngoma.

Chiwoniso died on July 24 2013.

The Pied Pipers

One outstanding music group that came out of Mbare is the Pied Pipers. The five musicians — Fungai Neganje, Chowasi Mdoka, Elisha Hwata, Tendai Masango and Evans Chatewu — were later joined by Gideon Neganje, William Mhlanga and Brian Rusike.

The Pied Pipers recorded several singles with Teal Record Company. With Gideon as the lead singer, they churned out hits such as Country Boy, Fatherland, Freedom Train, Reggae Sounds of Africa, Lightning, Jimmy Boy and You Can’t Stop The Revolution which gave them a new lease of life as the band became more and more popular. Their classical hit, Ruva Rangu written by Brian Rusike was copied by several bands in Zimbabwe.

Transit Crew

Formed in 1988, the original members of Transit Crew were Munya Brown (former Misty In Roots drummer who had stayed behind when the band visited Zimbabwe), the late Tendai Gamure aka Culture T and Emmanuel Frank, both on vocals, Munyaradzi Nyemba on bass, Samaita Zindi on guitar, Temba Jacobs on guitar and Anthony “Leba” Amon on keyboards.

This union resulted in the production of three albums — Sounds Playing, The Message and Money. The albums were well-received nationally and internationally and helped to establish Transit Crew as a formidable reggae outfit in Zimbabwe. A successful six months tour of Tokyo, Japan, followed in 1990.

In the early 1990s Transit Crew played alongside or acted as support act for Jamaican artists who visited Zimbabwe such as Culture, Dennis Brown, Ijahman Levi, Eric Donaldson and Shabba Ranks. They were the backing band for British-based reggae artist Benjamin Zephania in the late 1990s. Two of the original members Samaita Zindi and Antony Leba are still with the band today.

Prince Tendai Mupfurutsa

Tendai Mupfurutsa, born on June 10 1955, was not only a music genius but also a gifted businessman. Prince Tendai, as he was affectionately known, interacted with different musicians nationally and internationally. His Hi-Density label even signed on artists who had made it elsewhere such as Kanda Bongo-Man from the DRC, Hamza Kalala from Tanzania, Toyin Adekale from the UK and MC Wabwino from Zambia.

Prince Tendai released several albums with his crew, Midnight Magic. The most notable were From Zambezi to Limpopo, Character, Sweet Temptation, Amai Tendi, Problem and African Cowboy. He was nominated for the 1996 Kora Awards for the song Character and won a Nama for the Best Video of the Year.

Prince Tendai died on December 27 2011.


Pengaudzoke was founded by Josphat Somanje in 1985 at a farm in the Beatrice area. Members at the time included three brothers — Daiton, Josphat and Clever Somanje. Then there was Lameck Fadwick and two other brothers — Laison Ngowera and Marefura Ngowera.

Sungura was at the time the in-thing. In 1990, they made a major breakthrough by releasing their debut eight-track album Kwatakabva Kure Nenhamo which had the hit tracks Munonditaura and Famba Mwana.

For feedback email: f_zindi@hotmail.com

One Response to Zim’s best musicians between 1990 & 2000

  1. muso February 20, 2017 at 12:37 pm #

    tongai dewa

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