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The humility called Black Umfolosi

As a child, I grew up to the music of Lovemore Majaivana, Busi Ncube, Oliver Mtukudzi and Black Umfolosi, among many other outstanding local acts. Though at times I was not sure of the artists’ real names, I would still sing along to the music that I would hear playing on the radio. For instance, the song True Love by Busi Ncube; most of us still remember the song, its melody, the groove and we could also sing along to it.

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Black Umfolosi and Nobuntu. Picture: Mgcini Nyoni
Black Umfolosi and Nobuntu. Picture: Mgcini Nyoni

I wish I could travel back in time to be with these musicians, to learn more from their childhood times. If I had the opportunity, I see myself being friends with Thomas Mapfumo and Majaivana. Their music is relevant even up to today; we can relate and connect with the message in their music. Most of their stories were based on real-life experiences — something our artists of today are failing to do. When you talk of talent, most of our yesteryear musicians had it in their bloodstreams.

I clearly remember listening to the song Unity by Black Umfolosi, when I was a little child. In most cases I would hear the song play, especially when it was during a national holiday such as the Unity Day, Africa Day or Independence Day. A few years down the line, I found myself sitting in a concert where Black Umfolosi were sharing the stage with an all-female ensemble, Nobuntu.

I had never seen Black Umfolosi perform live. I do not even know why it had taken me that long to watch them perform. What I took from their concert alongside Nobuntu is the humility that comes with exposure and talent. The members are some of the humblest artists I have ever come across and you would never guess that this was the group that had toured worldwide, probably more than any other Zimbabwean group. Like many of us, when we travel to the United States for two minutes or South Africa for a week, none of their members make emphasis on that aspect of their lives. I completely admire that about them, there is no need to announce your life to the world, especially when it does not add any value to the next person.

I have come to believe that the more one travels and experiences different cultures, the more they realise that there is no need to be a pain about it. Whatever you have achieved in your life span is extremely admirable; it’s yours, especially when you have worked hard for it. That knowledge also keeps you in a humble state all the time and makes you even more proud of yourself and where you come from.

I was completely blown away by the professionalism, quality of delivery, engagement and respect of time that these groups, Black Umfolosi and Nobuntu had throughout the concert. During the time, I completely forgot about my Twitter, WhatsApp or social media platforms — that’s how good they are. Since then, I am in awe of their performance. I would attend another concert if they have to put up another spectacular show.

I hardly attend shows because many a time, I feel like that I am being cheated by artists who take fans for granted and do not put a performance worth the money they peg for their concerts. It just annoys me when artists think they are more important than anyone else. The definition of humility and composure for me is Black Umfolosi and Nobuntu — they have mastered the essence of Ubuntu. I talk more about this and many other issues on my podcast #GTeeVibe, so listen and be involved.

Gilmore Tee is a well-travelled social entrepreneur, public relations and branding consultant, host and curator. He is the co-producer of the weekly #GTeeVibe podcast and one of the leading fashion facilitators in southern Africa.
He can be reached on or Facebook/Instagram/ Twitter/SnapChat: Gilmore Tee

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