Category Archives: Zimbabwe Music Guide

Zimbabwean Music Guide

Zimbabwean Music Guide

This site is operating as an archive only.

No new information will be added.  I hope you enjoy the five years of work that went into this, and that the existing information remains usefula nd relevant.

Thanks for visiting and enjoy the rest of the catalogue.

Welcome to the home of Zimbabwean pop music on the web. Here you’ll find the latest news, sounds, and information on your favourite artists. Jit, Chimurenga, Sungura, Rhumba, even Soukous – it’s here! Ever wanted to explore Harare’s nightlife? Bulawayo’s sounds? Explore the many different genres, artists, albums, and sounds Zimbabwe has to offer here.

New to the music of Zimbabwe? Don’t know where to start?
Try the primer.

Learn more about the Zimbabwe Music Guide here.



Afropop Worldwide is the site for popular African music. Includes afrtists biographies, discographies, interviews, photographs, and sound samples as well as articles, discussion boards, music reviews, a radio show, and general information. Run by African music expert Banning Eyre, Afropop is an excellent guide for the African music lover. Definitely the best African music site on the net.

Images Used:
Khiama Boys Kutambura CD cover.


Dandemutande is a complete Zimbabwean music resource. With gig info, a mailing list, a resource guide, a magazine, and a music catalog, Dandemutande is the definitive online source for Zim music info. The mailing list is a an excellent source of Zim news, information, and discussion, while the catalog features a mix of traditional mbira-based recordings as well as the more popular music featured on this site. A new shipment of CDs and cassettes has arrived recently. Dandemutande has been a great help in aiding with the creation of this site!

*NEW* Dandemutande has recently revamped their resource list, which is absolutely phenomenol for Zimbabwean and African music as a whole. Click here to visit.

1122 East Pike Street, # 1163
Seattle, WA
98122-3934 USA

Images Used:
Robson Banda photo and Greatest Hits… CD cover; Bhundu Boys True Jit, Live at King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut and Pamberi CD covers; John Chibadura The Essentialand More of the Essential… CD covers; James Chimombe photo and Greatest Hits CD cover; Jonah Sithole Sabhuku CD cover; The Four Brothers Brothers,Makorokoto: Best of…, and Manga Manga CD covers; Zimbabwe Frontline 1, 2, &3, Hits of Zimbabwe 2 & 3, Rough Guide…, Vibrant Zimbabwe, Jit, Everyone’s Child CD covers; Biggie Tembo Out of Africa CD cover.

The Daily News

The website of Zimbabwe’s only daily independent The Daily News.


The music section of Zimbabwe’s EcoWeb portal. Offers information on different artists and their respective types of music.

Images Used:
Jonah Moyo photo; Chazeseza Challengers photo

Mbira Page

Website offering information on mbira-based music including traditional styles as well as artists such as Mapfumo and Sithole.


Website of the annual ZimFest music festival. Features traditional artists in an annual concert-workshop series. ZimFest 2002 is set for July 12th, 13th, & 14, 2002 in Seattle, Washington, USA.


Graham, Ronnie. Da Capo Guide to Contemporary African Music. London: Da Capo Press, 1988. Available used from Amazon.
Graham, Ronnie. The World of African Music: Stern’s Guide to Contemporary African Music, Volume One. London: Pluto, 1988. Sometimes available used from Amazon.
Graham, Ronnie. The World of African Music: Stern’s Guide to Contemporary African Music, Volume Two. London: Pluto, 1992. Available fromAmazon.

Ronnie Graham’s African Music books are defintiely top notch. With musical histories, bios and discographies from across the continent, his guides are a valuable source of information for any African music enthousiast. Extensive information on South Africa, the Congo, Nigeria, Kenya, Zimbabwe, and almost every other African country. A short history of each nation also included.

Much, if not most, of the discographical information found on this site has been compiled with the help of Graham’s second volume.

Zindi, Fred. Roots Rocking in Zimbabwe. Gweru: Mango Press, 1990.

Fred Zindi’s book is one of the first publications to focus entirely on Zimbabwe and its musical development. A musician himself with Shaka, Zindi’s guide has been an invaluable aid in the formation of this site, especially regarding some of the earlier names in Zimbabwean music. His book includes an account of the rise of the Zimbabwean music industry, and contains commentary on many groups and solo artists. Although only available from ZimBobonline, Zindi’s book may be found in some music libraries, such as the Music Library of the University of Toronto.

Zindi, Fred. Music YeZimbabwe: Zimbabwe Versus the World. 1997. ISBN 0 86922 360 7

Fred Zindi’s second book is an updated version of the earlier Roots Rocking in Zimbabwe. The volume has been reviewed to include new musicians, emerging music genres, an updated Zimbabwean music history, and a section on the international names of African music.

If one can get past the relatively amateurish presentation, the books is a good resource, especially considering the numerous profiles of Zimbabwean musicians not included in the first volume.

Turino, Thomas. Nationalists, Cosmopolitans, and Popular Music in Zimbabwe. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000.

Thomas Turino’s guide to the development of music in modern-day Zimbabwe covers the influence of post-war colonialism and eventual independence on both traditional and contemporary music. As part of the University of Chicago series Studies in Ethnomusicology, the book provides a more detailed and ‘scientific’ account than Zindi’s book above. An invaluable guide to those who want to see the nuts and bolts of musical development in Zimbabwe,Nationalists, Cosmopolitans…, however, fails to cover the rise of Zimbabwe’s influential pop bands of the late 80s and 90s (the focus of this site.). Turino’s guide has been used to formulate profiles and discographies of Susan Mapfumo, Oliver Mtukudzi, the Real Sounds, and a few other artists.

Where to Buy

Complaints? Praise? Advice? Let me know about your experiences with e-tailers…


Africassette, run out of Detroit, Michigan, is a worldwide retailer of African music as well as a record label with 5 releases. Zimbabwean selection is limited. I have ordered from them once and all went well. Mail-order only.

In Association with

Lets give three cheers for corporate consolidation. Amazon is now partnered with CD Now and HMV Online, givng us an even smaller selection and less competition. Amazon does, however, have decent selection of Zimbabwean music. Offers mail and online ordering. In my experience, they have been reliable, although their more obscure CDs are prone to ordering delays. Lots of music samples for their CDs.

Barnes & Noble

Has a good selection of Zimbabwean music, generally at lower prices than Amazon or CD Now. Prone to shipping specials, making this possibly the best source for the more popular titles such as Mapfumo, The Four Brothers, Real Sounds, and the Frontline compilations. Online ordering only.

Brown Sugar Web

Offers a large selection of African records. Lots of Zimbabwean LPs. Website hasn’t worked since Aug 2003, but the operator periodically sells ultra-rare LPs and singles – check out his listings on eBay.


Zimbabwean-music magazine with a catalog of music titles. Good selection of both traditional and electric titles, especially for artists unavailable elsewhere. Catalog includes cassettes and CDs. Helpful, friendly, prompt and reliable – I’ve ordered two cassettes and have been pleased with the results. Mail-order only but highly recommended.


GEMM is a msuci search engine with queries thousands of vendors and shops for all types, styles, formats and genres of music – from new toused, popular to rare. I purchased from an Australian supplier via their system and had no difficulties. A search through here for your favourite rare something may turn up a result.


Nick’s African Tape and Record Import (NATARI) has a great selection of CD’s, Cassette, and LPs from all over Africa. Zimbabwean selection is excellent. High prices (UK-based) but it is most likely to have what you’re looking for, especially if you’re into older releases. Now if only I could finnagle Nick into selling me some Chibadura and Devera Ngwena LPs from his personal collection…


The online presence of Zimbabwe’s largest record chain. Lists only charts – no catalogue available. The last quote I received had Zim CDs at $2700 ZWD, but who knows how inflation has changed that since.


Another distributor/record company all in one. By far the best selection of African music on the net. Offers CDs, Cassettes, and even LPs. High prices, but the selection is definitely there. Unfortunately their older releases tend to be listed as “usually available” or “out of stock”. Offers almost all of the Earthworks releases. Online ordering.


Prices comparable to most retail outlets, but with a better general selection of African music. Zimbabwean selection is ok. Online ordering.


From the producers of Zimsite comes a whole new Zimbabwean music portal. Zimsounds has a fantastic selection of Zimbabwean and African titles. Cheap, relaiable, trustworthy, and fast. Looking forward to having some more money to blow, eventually…

Record Labels

Gramma Records

Formerly known as Teal Records, Gramma is Zimbabwe’s largest record company. Carry most of the popular artists including John Chibadura, Jonah Moyo, The Four Brothers, Khiama Boys, Leonard Dembo, Simon Chimbetu, and many others. Their website has been down since Nov 01.

Gramma Records
Stand 732 Harare Drive
New Ardbennie
P.O. Box ST 21, Southerton
Harare, Zimbabwe
Tel: +263-4-64581
Fax: +263-4-730909

Zimbabwe Music Corporation

Formerly under the wing of South Africa’s Gallo Records, ZMC is Zimbabwe’s second largest recording company, which carries artists such as Leonard Zhakata, Andy Brown & the Storm, Oliver Mtukudzi, and many others.

Zimbabwe Music Corporation (ZMC)
Pollack House
30 Robson Manyika Ave
P.O. Box 4824
Harare, Zimbabwe
Tel: +263-4-724492
Fax: +263-4-720378

Record & Tape Promotions

Zimbabwe’s newest record company, RTP is the smallest of the three.

Record & Tape Promotions
Chancellor House
Samora Machel Avenue
P.O. Box BW 58, Borrowdale
Harare, Zimbabwe
Tel: +263-4-724492
Fax: +263-4-720378


Record label and distributor. Stern’s started off as a small shop in London, England, and has grown to be the best source for African music on the planet. Although they carry Zimbabwean compilations through their Earthwork’s label (Frontline, Jit), their label remains largely centred on South African music and soukous. Has offices in London, New York, and Sao Paolo.

Cooking Vinyl

British label which carries a few African artists. Cooking Vinyl introduced The Four Brothers to the world and picked up the Bhundu Boys after they parted ways with WEA and Island.

Cooking Vinyl
PO Box 1845
London, England
W10 4BT
Tel: 44 (81) 960-6000
Fax: 44 (81) 960-1120

Cherry Red Records

Another British indie label. Carries the Real Sounds and their album Get Real/7 Miles High.


American label that releases Thomas Mapfumo’s work, as well as other African albums. Offers a huge selection of his CDs. Buying from Anonymous ensures that your money is being directed to the artist.


ZimBob is the label responsible for the release of the Vibrant Zimbabwe compilation as well as Jonah Sithole, Robson Banda, Thomas Mapfumo, and James Chimombe Best of… albums. Dormant for a few years, they have also released mbira-based albums.

ZimBob Inc.
PO Box 2421
Champaign, IL
61825 USA


South African giants which carry most of the popular Western artists throughout Africa. Do have a large archive of African recordings, including some Zimbabwean artists including Leonard Dembo, Zexie Manatsa, the Zimbabwe Clear Sounds and the Kassongo Band.


Zim Links

Here is a limited list of links pertaining to Zimbabwean music, culture, and life. For more links, please check out the Resources page, Where to Buy, and the Zim Music Primer.

If you have a link you’d like to see added, please contact me.

Dandemutande The internet’s definitive Zim music and culture magazine and catalog.
MBIRA Erica Azim’s non-profit group devoted to Shona mbira music.
Portland Zim Music One of many outposts of Zim music in the Pacific Northwest. Dan Shoom’s Canadian marimba troupe, Nyamamusango.
Music Africa Home of Afrofest, Toronto’s annual African music festival
Shona Lyrics Lyrics to more than a 300 Shona, English, and Ndebele songs.
Zimfest The annual Zimbabwean music festival held on the Pacific coast.
Zimnites Zimbabwe’s dance and trance scene.
Africancolours A portal for African artists and contemporary visual art.
Chirundu A community for Zimbabweans abroad.
Culture of Zimbabwe Zimbabwean culture resources and links.
One Love Mag Online youth magazine out of Harare.
Shona Language Lessons Introductory Shona online.
Savannahnotes An outpost for Ndebele culture, as well as overseas Zimbabweans.
The Chronicle A state-run newspaper.
The Daily News Zimbabwe’s only independent Daily Newspaper.
The Herald Zimbabwe’s daily state-run newspaper.
The Independent Another leading independent newspaper.
The Financial Gazette An independent, business-focused weekly.
SW Radio Africa Independent short-wave radio in Zimbabwe.
ZBC The state-controlled broadcasting service with streaming radio.
ZW News Daily site for net news and links on Zimbabwe.
ZANU-PF Zimbabwe’s ruling party.
MDC Zim’s opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change.
Zimbabwe Human Rights Forum An independent watch-dog devoted to ensuring human rights.
Zimbabwe Democracy Trust An independent organization devoted to promoting democracy.
Commercial Farmers Union The homepage of the nation’s predominant farming organization.
Farm Invasion Page A private site detailing farm invasions across the country.
Sportscity A portal to Zimbabwean sport news, specifically soccer and rugby.
Africa Online A continental portal to all things African.
Ecoweb A starting point for links from all categories of Zimbabwean life.
M-Web A Southern African ISP and internet portal.


Zimbabwean Guitar Tabs

This section will always be under construction. Additionally, many tabs may not be complete – let me know if you figure out the rest. Please note that my tabbing skills leave a lot to be desired, as well.

Artist Song Album Type
Alick Macheso Amai vaRubhi Simbaradzo (2000) Lead
Jonah Moyo Taxi Driver Taxi Driver (1986) Rhythm
Oliver Mtukudzi Neriah Ndega Zvangu (1997) Lead (By Tamuka)
Oliver Mtukudzi Ndakuneta Ndega Zvangu (1997) Intro (By Tamuka)
Oliver Mtukudzi Chiri Nani Paivepo (2000) Lead (By Tamuka)
Oliver Mtukudzi Ndakuvara Vhunze Moto (2002) Lead & Rhythm
Oliver Mtukudzi Gondo Vhunze Moto (2002) Lead (By Tamuka)
Biggie Tembo Punza Out of Africa (1992) Lead

For a great African guitar instruction book, check out Banning Eyre’s Guitar Atlas: Africa.

artists o

…the noteworthy (but not included.)

A random collection of artists who don’t fit the mould of this site, yet still deserve a mention. Listed alphabetically. (This page will be forever under construction as I continually add new and old musicians alike.)


Tobias Areketa & the Shazi Band

A guitarist in Mapfumo’s Blacks Unlimited, Tobias Areketa appeared on his albums throughout the 80s, including 1986’s Mr. Music. He was especially known for Mapfumo’s reggae song Mugarandega. He eventually left the band for a solo career, producing the hit songs Trouble, Uya Iwe, and an album, Baba naAmai. Tobias died in the mid 90s under sketchy circumstances, just as his star began to shine brightest.

Tineyi Chikupo

An alumnus of the Mother Band, the New Mother Band, the Mverechena Band, and the musician-factory known as the Khiama Boys. Tinyei got his start alongside Marshall Munhumumwe in the Mverechena Band, releasing their first single, Kapfumo Kandibaya, in 1976. Munhumumwe eventually left, poaching three other members to form the Four Brothers. Tineyi went on to play in numerous bands and produce hits such as Hama Dzapera and Gore Rino with the New Mother Band.

Ashton “Sugar” Chiweshe and the Batonga Crew

Ashton Chiweshe was recruited as a member of the Acid Band while Thomas Mapfumo was incarcerated by Rhodesia authorities and Jonah Sithole was in charge. His on and off relationship with the band lasted two decades, as his influential chimurenga and rock hybrid guitar sounds influenced such pinnacular albums as Corruption,Chamunorwha, and Vanhu Vatema. Chiweshe was eventually booted for his falmboyant playing style – Mapfumo was not fond of a showman. Chiweshe eventually formed his own band, the Batonga Crew. He died form complications of diabetes in 1999. Ashton Chiweshe music clips (rm): -1- -2- -3-

Leonard ‘Picket’ Chiyangwa

Leonard was a founding member of Mapfumo’s Acid and Blacks Unlimited bands alongside such notable Zimbabwe guitar legends as Ashton Chiweshe, Jonah Sithole, and Joshua Dube. Along with other such notables, he helped shape and define the chimurenga sound. Leonard Chiyangwa eventually parted for a solo career. His songWapunza Musha is featured on the Jit soundtrack.

Joshua Dube

Joshua Dube is one of the many influential guitarists to have graced the stage in Thomas Mapfumo’s chimurenga bands. Another founding member of the Blacks Unlimited, he played a large part in forging the chimurenga sound. He eventually left the Mapfumo circle to play with his younger brother, Jonah Moyo, the leader ofDevera Ngwena Jazz Band.

The Great Sounds

The Great Sounds were a seven piece band prominent during the 1970s. The group was arguably the first Black Zimbabwean guitar band to release a hit single when they released Anopenga Ane Waya in 1971. The Great Sounds went on to score a number of other htis during the 70s, becoming the first Zim band to sell rhumbasuccessfully.

Fungai Malianga

Guitarist and singer of the late 70s and early 80s. Known for his 1980 hit Voodoo, he began in soul/funk, turning to jazz in the Eighties, and eventually to gospel in the new millennium.

Patrick Mkwamba

Patrick Mkwamba has been a lead vocalist with his band the Four Seasons. He has also appearaed and recorded extensively with the Four Brothers. His songs appear on compilations such as Viva Zimbabwe!, Early Hits of Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe Frontline Vol 1, and Zimbabwe Frontline Vol 2. Mkwamba was also a member of the Hallelujah Chiken Run band alongside Thomas Mapfumo in the mid-70s.

The Pied Pipers

One of the legendary bands of Zimbabwean music, the reggae group the Pied Pipers have existed in one form or another since the 70s and have provided a trainingground for some of Zimbabwe’s best musicians. Lead vocalists have included such names as Thomas Mapfumo, Susan Mapfumo, Doreen Mcumbe, John Mtumwa and Gideon Neganje, while legendary guitarist Jonah Sithole also played with the band for a time in the late Eighties. Brian Rusike also joined for a time on drums. While the band focuses on cover material, I’m A Country Boy is an original song about black life in Rhodesia, while Amayo is one of their albums of original music. The group turned to reggae music in 1982.

RUNN Family

Comprised of siblings from the Muparutsa family, the RUNN Family had a number of hits in the 1980s. Lead singer and bassist Peter Muparutsa has continued to work in the music industry – as a studio musician (Virginia Mukwesha) as a recording engineer (Oliver Mtukudzi) and a producer (Leonard Zhakata, Stella Chiweshe.) He is also a member of the board of the Shape Zimbabwe Trust, which promotes health and the prevention of HIV/AIDS. His brother, Fortune, is also a producer, who specializes in RnB and Ragga (Roy and Royce, Prince Mafukidze, Mateo, Shame and Nathan) and owns his own Fortune Studios. Listen to Hatechina Wekutamba Naye.


Shaka was a group consisting of Louis Mhlanga, Fred Zindi, and Joy Welsh, among others which released a few albums in the 80s, including 1985’s Train of Freedom. Louis eventually went on to have a successful production career with many groups and has turned this into a successful solo career. Fred authored Roots Rocking In Zimbabwe, one of the first accoutns of the development of music and the music industry in Zimbabwe. He went on to teach at the University of Zimbabwe.

Featured Artists

Featured Artists

Please select from the list on your left.

Artist profiles include biographical information, discographies, track listings, songs samples, and links.

For tidbits on important musicians not profiled here, including prominent traditional, R & B, and gospel artists, click here.


Zimbabwe Frontline Compilations

Stern’s line of Zimbabwe Frontline compilations offers one of the most professional and available set of discs released on Zimbabwean electric pop. Beginning in the late 80s with the first installment, the second CD highlights the 80s-90s transition, while latest release covers more current, mid-90s artists.

Zimbabwe Frontline – Volume One

Released: 1989
Label:  Earthworks – CDEWV9
Format:  LP, CD
Running Time:  42 minutes, 9 tracks.
Stocked by: out of print but still listed by Barnes & Noble, Amazon. LP available form Natari.

First release in a series of three from African music specialists Earthworks. Balances the more traditional music of Mapfumo, Mtukudzi, and Banda against Devera Ngwena’s rhumbira, The Four Brothers’ jit and the South African-inspired sounds of the Green Arrows. Three releases seem to exist and contain different tracks. (Audio samples are in downloadable mp3 and RealAudio format.)


Zimbabwe Frontline – Volume Two:  Spirit of the Eagle

Released:  1990
Label:  Earthworks – CDEMV18
Format:  CD
Running Time:  52 minutes, 9 tracks.
Stocked by:  Amazon, Africassette, Dandemutande, Natari. Available used from eBay.

More masterful Zimbabwean guitar on the second release of this Earthworks series. The increased number of Banda tracks makes Spirit of the Eagle the most “Mapfumian” of the three discs. Head and shoulders above most compilations this is an excellent collection, but, in my opinion, the weakest link of the three. (Audio samples available here.)




Pioneered by Thomas Mapfumo, chimurenga was the popular music of Zimbabwe’s liberation struggle. The music, which finds its roots in Shona tradition, relies heavily on the mbira for inspiration. Rhythms and melodies from the traditional mbira are transcribed for guitar and are usually mixed with a political or moral message. The mbira is present in many songs as well. Somewhat danceable, chimurenga sometimes has a trance-inducing quality to it.

Artists include Thomas Mapfumo & the Blacks Unlimited and Jonah Sithole. Robson Banda & the New Black Eagles has a less dark feel than the chimurenga of Mapfumo.


Jit (jiti, jit-jive)

Sometimes known as the Harare beat, jit is the highly danceable music Zimbabwe is best known for. Jit gained international exposure during the 1980s through theBhundu Boys and The Four Brothers, and is characterized by fast guitar riffs and rapid-fire drumming. A true melting pot, the popular sound is influenced by Tanzanian guitar, said to be brought back by returning soldiers, the bass of Congolese rhumba, and the mbira-guitar of chimurenga. Others, such as the Chazezesa Challengers, mix a blend of jit and sungura.

Artists include the Bhundu Boys, The Four Brothers, and the Chazezesa Challengers.


Rhumba (rhumbira, zimrhumba)

Rhumbira, as it is affectionately known by Afropop enthousiasts, finds its roots in the Congo. As Congolese bands based their efforts in Harare in the 70s and 80s, their heavy bass and infectious and intricate guitar licks eventually found their way into Zimbabwean music. As with most foreign music, the genre was “Zimbabweanized” as Shona lyrics and mbira-rythms (hence the moniker rhumbira) were added to complete the highly danceable sound. Rhumba hits its heyday in the 1980s, and although its popularity is in decline it remains a powerful force in Zimbabwean music both at home and abroad.

Artists include Jonah Moyo & Devera Ngwena, the Marxist Brothers, Simon Chimbetu, and Leonard Zhakata.



An offshoot of Zimbabwean rhumba and jit, sungura is an exptremely popular genre in Zimbabwe. Still heavily guitar-based, songs generally feature a reaggae feel, as well as more prominent vocal lines as the rapid-fire guitar of other styles takes a backseat. The genre hit its peak in the mid-1990s and is still going strong today despite the prominent rise of R&B in Africa.

Artists include John Chibadura, Leonard Dembo, Alick Macheso, and the Sungura Boys.



Another Congolese import from the touring bands of the 1970s. Compared to jit and rhumba, soukous is much less common in Zimbabwe despite its appealing international status. Zimbabwean soukous artists tend to be of Congolese origin.

Artists include the Real Sounds of Africa.



Reggae maintains a Zimbabwean following, but despite its popularity abroad few native artists have found much success.

Artists include the Pied Pipers.