Soul Brothers headed for Erari

It looks as though for many Namibian music lovers, especially fans of the South African Mbaqanga group, Soul Brothers, Christmas will come early this year � as early as next month in fact. Kae Matundu-Tjiparuro brings you the story.

Organisers have confirmed the group as the main act at the entertainment highlights of this year's edition of the annual Okakarara Trade Fair on September 9 � the last day of the trade fair. Last year Dan Tshanda, from South Africa, led a pack of other entertainers from South Africa including Splash, Dalom Kids, Matshikos, Montana and Mpho Majika.

They featured alongside local artists like The Dogg, Uatungua Matundu and Rax Rakutuka Kandjoze. The show was a bonus for trade fair goers for only the price of N$50, which was the entrance fee to the fair.

However, the show received stiff competition from South African Disco queen, Patricia Majalisa, who in a parallel show in the town headlined an equally star-studded show.

Her show featured the likes of Nikie Nikie, Ludwe, Mpendulo Peacock, Neo Maphaka, Tafula and Slindile with local artists such as Ben Mutjangatjike Muundjua, Sally a.k.a. Boss Madam, Wildogs and One Blood also performing at the Okakarara Sports Field.

However, the chairperson of the Okakarara Trade Fair Society board, Elia Kandjii, has confirmed Soul Brothers as the main act on the closing night of the fair at what unlike last year, seems the only music show in town this year on the closing weekend of the trade fair.

Soul Brothers will headline performances by local groups in different genres such as oviritje, disco and gospel, but the organisers still have to confirm the line-up, as contracts with these groups have not been finalised yet.

Soul Brothers announced in June this year that they would embark on a road show in South Africa this December.

At the time, it was not certain whether Namibia � where the group enjoys massive support � would be part of the road show.

However, it now looks as though for Namibians this comes with the show at the Okakarara Trade Fair.

Soul Brothers also announced the beefing up of the group with new members who will keep on the long legacy of the group alive.

This includes all its founder members but one, with Moses Black Moses Ngwenya the only surviving founding member.

It's been bothering me that if I die, who will continue with the group, the South African Sunday Sun newspaper quoted Ngwenya as saying.

My wish and that of the other late founding members had always been that we'd love to see this group's legacy live on, he said.

The group has roped in youngsters who have brought vibrancy to the group as new permanent members.

Thokozani Hadebe has been the lead vocalist since the death of lead singer, David Masondo, in 2015.

The other new members include Bongani Phiyose and Nkosinathi Ngwenya as backing vocalists, S'boniso Zuma as lead guitarist and Lehlohonolo Mofokeng as trumpeter.

As stalwarts of South Africa's music scene, Soul Brothers have recorded over 30 albums since their formation in 1974.

Initially formed in KwaZulu-Natal, the group has remained the slickest and most successful exponents of the mbaqanga sound, which dominated South African urban music for over three decades.

While their costume, choreography and some harmonies bear resemblance to the American Soul music that inspired them, the group created an original sound and style, which captivated South African audiences. They were especially popular amongst migrant labourers, who under Apartheid, were forced to leave their rural homes to seek work in the cities.

The Soul Brothers themselves trod this path to Joburg, and this shared frame of reference endeared the group to the massive working class audience of South African cities.

They built the band around the rhythm section comprising bassist Zenzele Zakes Mchunu, drummer David Masondo, and guitarist Tuza Mthethwa, who first played together in the Groovy Boys in KwaZulu-Natal, and later as part of the Young Brothers.

Keyboard player Moses Ngwenya joined them in Joburg to create the Soul Brothers, and David Masondo made the move from drums to lead vocals.

The combination of Masondo's quavering soprano voice and Ngwenya's percussive Hammond organ playing gave the Soul Brothers a unique and instantly recognisable sound.

They typically augmented this core rhythm section with a brass section, guitars, and multiple vocal harmonies.

Car crashes saw the deaths of three band members in 1979, and then later also the death of bassist and founder member Zakes Mchunu in 1984. Despite these setbacks, Masondo and Ngwenya continued, performing with an expanded group that included not only musicians, but also dedicated dancers.

Just like at last year's closing day show, show attendants can buy a day's pass that will also allow them entrance to the music show later in the day for N$50 while VIP tickets go for N$150.

Source: New Era Newspaper Namibia