HomeNewsSungura has been contaminated: Moyo

Sungura has been contaminated: Moyo


Sungura music has remained one of the most authentic Zimbabwean sounds.


Although the genre from time to time borrows from other African sounds, its roots remain grounded in Zimbabwean societies.

But over the years, however, the infiltration of other sounds has become so overwhelming that according to one of the gurus of the sound, Jonah Moyo, sungura has become contaminated.

Moyo told NewsDay from his South Africa base that the Zimbabwean feel in sungura has diminished and the genre has lost taste.

“The sungura that is being played these days has lost taste,” Moyo said. “It will never be the same as that which we played back in the day. If you listen carefully, you will tell it was much softer and you could easily listen to the music on whatever platform, but it has been overtaken by this new school of guitar skills that make it too heavy.”

He added. “Maybe that is what the listener wants now, but it has lost direction because of the same skills.”

Best known for such hits as Solo naMutsai, among many others, Moyo is probably one of the few left in the generation of sungura godfathers.

But he has since moved to South Africa due to the harsh economic conditions in Zimbabwe and says his music is flourishing in Limpopo province of South Africa.

He is one of the reasons for the proliferation of sungura music in the country.

But he says he just has been procrastinating on coming back home and the plans to return are coming to fruition soon.

“The only reason for not coming back home is that I have been procrastinating, but then time has been moving,” he said. “I have been here for the past 10 years, but I am a full time musician. I sell my music on my own although I have a contract with Dakota Music Wholesalers whom I supply every month.”

Moyo says due to his long time in the industry, he has now grown and he finds it much easier to compose than before.

“I have gained a lot of experience and am very much mature now than before. I find it easier to write my music and I never run out of ideas,” he said.

The veteran lead guitarist, who is in the same league as the late great Leonard Dembo who was arguably the best ever lead guitarist in the country, said apart from the economy, record deals these days have improved immensely.

“The record companies we used to work for back in the day were parasitic. Can you believe that we used to be paid a paltry 4% on royalties unlike today where u can negotiate a higher percentage?” he quipped.

He, however, said he longed to come home to play music again and announced that he would soon be coming to play alongside the remaining original members of his band, the Deverangwena Jazz Band.

“Home is best. I will certainly come back home only that sometimes we give ourselves targets and once I achieve mine there will not be anything to stop me,” said Moyo.

“People respect and love me and my music so much. They make me feel at home. They even call me Mutumbuli wa Zwingondo, meaning that I am the one who started this type of music. They grew up listening to this music because I was the first musician from Zimbabwe to sell music in South Africa way back in 1980, but I will always come back home.”

Moyo currently has an album doing exceptionally well in South Africa, but is unfortunately not getting as much airplay on local radio stations.

The album, titled Volume 38/Nthu Fuke in Shona and Venda, has some marvellous rhythms that can easily evoke the good old days that some may have listened to Deverangwena Jazz Band.

It somehow relegates the bulk of sungura musicians that are currently on the market to second class no matter their stature, and presents a heavy challenge to the bigger artistes like Alick Macheso and Sulumani Chimbetu, among others.

Moyo, however, said piracy had also affected the sales of his current album in South Africa.

“The latest album is selling very well, but unlike before when we did not have to worry about piracy, these days it has wreaked havoc,” he said.

“It is a real war. What is most painful is the pirates are mostly Zimbabweans.”

He said he longed for the day that piracy would be eradicated.
“I was shocked to learn that a CD is being sold for $1 which is more or less the same as piracy becase the musician is getting peanuts,” he lamented.

“It is even difficult for me to bring my music back home because I cannot sell my music for $1. It will take your die hard supporter to buy at $5 per CD. It has to change and government has to do something about this.

“I am already working on my next album, but before I record it, I will do a live DVD recording for Volume 38 in Johannesburg soon. The good news for my fans is that Volume 39 will include Innocent Bitu and Jonisai Machinya, the original members of Deverangwena Jazz Band.”

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