in the groove:with Fred Zindi
The death of veteran musician, Moses Bhekilanga Kabubi last week came as a shock to me and to many fellow musicians. Moses was a humble and unassuming artiste who took his trade very seriously. He was respected as a music virtuoso on the live performances scene by all people of his generation. Anyone over 45 years of age with an interest in Zimbabwean music will have heard of Moses Kabubi.
Tributes pouring in from his legion of fans and music colleagues such as George Shiri in the United Kingdom, Busi Ncube in Oslo, Norway, Gift Msarurwa in the US, Ngonidzashe Michael Chinyamurindi also in the States, Peter Mparutsa, Kelly Rusike, Virginia Phiri, Ebba Chitambo, Terrence Mapurisana, Clancy Mbirimi, John Masuku, Master Pablo Nakappa, Themba Ncube and hundreds others are testimony to his great and respected craftsmanship. They all write good things about him. For instance Mono Mukundu writes:
“Rest in peace Mdhara Moses Kabubi. I have just got the news that God’s band in heaven has just got better. It has a new pianist called Mdhara Moses Kabubi.That’s another library which has just got burnt and went loaded with knowledge.”
Gift Musarurwa in the United States of America also writes:
“Great pianist! Go well my buddy, Hamba Kahle, Siza bonana eZulwini. You join your beloved Rosie. Give her my best . You are now going to jam with Manu Kambani, Jethro Shasha on the drums, Kookie Tutani on bass and Smangaliso Tutani”.
Albert Nyathi said that Moses was a humble and great person to work with. He played keyboards during the recording of the song Senzeni Na and the entire album entitled For How Long/Kuze Kube Nini? in 1993 at Shed Studios
Christopher Muzavazi who knew Moses Kabubi well recalls:
“Manu Kambani, lead guitar, Bhekilanga Moses Kabubi, keyboards and guitar, Jethro Shasha, drums and percussion and Elias Banda (and later Jacko) on bass- formed Zimbabwe’s greatest and best known Rock band called Electric Mud”.
From the above testimonies, there is evidence that Kabubi worked with so many talented musicians. He started off as a Rock musician and ended as a Jazz artist in Summer Breeze where he teamed up with Fari Sumaili originally from Zambia and Graciano Kapfunde. May his soul rest in eternal peace.
With all these musicians he did his part in recording some of the material that was produced from the 1970’s up to 2019.
However, one thing that disturbed me about Kabubi’s career is the fact that I discovered in late 2011 and 2016, that although Moses had recorded and performed with many bands in this country, he had not kept any of his recorded material.
It was, first Charles Houdart, the executive director at Alliance Francaise who brought this to my attention when he asked for a Tuttenkhamein vinyl album made by Kabubi and company in the 1970’s. I told him that I did not have a copy but the best person to ask was Moses Kabubi as he was part of the recording.
Moses looked everywhere but he could not find a single copy. He said he had not kept any copies. I lectured him on the importance of keeping one’s artistic material for prosterity sake. I told him that future generations , including his children and great grandchildren would benefit from his works.
In late 2016, Matthew Mshechmeister, an American record producer from Los Angeles, representing Now & Again Records came to Zimbabwe looking for Rock music which was recorded here in the 1970’s. The only two people Matthew knew as sources of information at the time were Webster Shamu and Albert Nyathi. Albert then referred Matthew to me. We sat at my house and I was able to give him a copy of my work with Stars of Liberty recorded in the U.K. in 1978 plus a list of Zimbabwean musicians who played Rock music in the 1970’s. He was amazed at how big the list was. I told him that during Rhodesian times, we were all subjected to Rock music because the White Rhodesians controlled the airwaves which played British and American Rock music from Jethro Tull, Deep Purple in Rock, Wishbone Ash, Elvis Presley, Cliff Richard, The Beatles, Pink Floyd, Janis Joplin, Jimmy Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, The Rolling Stones to David Bowie. Almost all Zimbabwean musicians copied the music of these Rock stars. Such musicians included Manu Kambani, Dr. Footswitch, Movement, Harare Mambo Band, Sabuku, Saul and Blues Union, Groovy Union, Electric Mud, Otis Waygood, Baked Beans, Stars of Liberty, Tuttenkhamein,The Four Aces, The Sound Effects, Holy Black, Eye Q, Eye of Liberty and Wells Fargo.
He asked me if any of these musicians were still alive and if any of them had written their own compositions as his record company was only interested in original1970’s Rock.
I told him that the best person to talk to was Moses Kabubi who had played with most of these musicians in a variety of bands. He then contacted Kabubi who was now playing in a Jazz outfit called Summer Breeze. Moses, after meeting Matthew decided that he would not invite him to his house as, according to him, it was messy since his wife Rosie, had recently died and had not had enough time to clean it up. Instead he suggested that he would round up all the rock musicians of the 1970’s and we would all meet at Solomon Chiweshe’s house in Westwood, near Mufakose.
On the Saturday, there was a big braai festival at Chiweshe’s house. In attendance were Albert Nyathi, Wells Fargo lead singer, Virginia Phiri, Never Mpofu who wasWells Fargo bassist, Cuthbert Maziwa of Eye Q, Solomon Chiweshe of Movement, Moses Kabubi himself representing Sound Effects, Clancy Mbirimi of the Harare Mambo Band, Myself from Stars of Liberty, Robert Moore from Sabuku and many other 1970’s artistes. Solo had a set of musical instruments assembled at his house. We all jammed some copyright Rock tunes from Jimmy Hendrix’s Hey Joe to the Simon & Garfunkel classic from 59th Street Bridge album, titled Feelin’ Groovy. After that each one of us gave a narration on how we were involved with Rock music in the 1970’s. I spoke briefly about the kind of Rock we played in the United Kingdom with Fungai Malianga and some of the songs we wrote. Then Cuthbert Maziwa reminisced about his band, Eye Q which wrote the song I’m Not Selfish. Virginia Phiri who sang some Janis Joplin tunes during her stint with Wells Fargo also spoke about her Rock ’n’ Roll days. Moses Kabubi told us he had played with many Rock groups but the most effective ones were Electric Mud and Sound Effects where he played with Jethro Shasha on drums, Manu Kambani on lead guitar and Ernest Jacko on bass.
They performed everywhere. Moses was playing the keyboard but he was also an accomplished guitarist. Later on, I discovered that he was Oliver Mtukudzi’s maternal uncle and was teaching Tuku how to play the guitar.
As part of his narrative, Kabubi told us that he had also worked with Tuttenkhamein Band in the 1970’s and that they had written many original songs. Matthew was impressed and wanted to sign Moses on to Now & Again Records straight away on condition he produced the recording they did with the bands that he had mentioned. Kabubi could not produce any recordings and the contract was never signed.
Matthew was disappointed that he could not get any recorded material from Moses, yet he had played in so many bands.
After the get-together at Chiweshe’s house Albert Nyathi decided to take Matthew to Bulawayo to meet Ebba Chitambo of Wells Fargo.
In Bulawayo Ebba who was Wells Fargo drummer and lead singer gave Matthew the material he had, some of which he had written together with Never Mpofu , George Phiri , Handsome Mabhiza and Josi Ndlovu before he left to form his own group, Eye of Liberty. Ebba was signed straight away. Today Now & Again Records have released on vinyl the album Watch Out with tracks Coming Home, Open The Door, Too Long Away, Love of My life, Carrying On, Love Is The In Thing and Bump Bump Babe.
They have also released Power To The People by Stars of Liberty and I’m Not Selfish by Eye Q. These are available onthe Amazon platform. Wells Fargo, Stars of Liberty and Eye Q were given advance royalties for their music.