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Zimbabwe Township Music
Taurai Maduna,
July 21, 2005

View audio file details: Joyce speaks about Sam Matambo a musician from the City Quards

Zimbabwe Township MusicThe Cool Crooners are one of the township music legends that are making waves in Zimbabwe and the world over, thanks to the release of their debut album Blue Sky released in France by Sony in 2001.

Zimbabweans from all walks of life love to see these "young" old guys in action especially when they sing the song Bulugwe Lami. The song is about a man who wears tattered trousers with patches and does not care about what the people say when he moves around.

But very little is known about these Madalas (old musicians) until now! Zimbabwean township music lovers can learn more about these Madalas in the book Zimbabwe Township Music by Joyce Jenje-Makwenda. The book is a must have for those who want to know all about Zimbabwean township music, it’s influences, the history of recording and popular musicians and bands. Zimbabwe Township Music covers the period 1930 - 2004 and is edited by Gibson Mandishona who is described by Pius Wakatama as "an illustrious son of Mbare".

Joyce Jenje–Makwenda grew up in Mbare, one of Zimbabwe’s oldest townships. Mbare is home to the Mai Musodzi, a venue that helped launch the careers of numerous township musicians including Dorothy Masuka, Evelyn and Simon Juba, Simangaliso Tutani and Jonah Marumahoko. Another township that acted as a launch pad for musicians is Makokoba in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe’s second largest city. Makokoba is the township behind great names such as the City Quads, Merry Makers, De Black Evening Follies, Golden Rhythm Crooners and the Cool Four.

While Joyce Jenje–Makwenda grew up listening to rock music her father listened to artists like Louis Armstrong. For Joyce, this type of music was hard to understand but as her father continued to flood the house with jazz she began to appreciate this genre of music.

Joyce Jenje–MakwendaAfter falling in love with jazz, Joyce began tracking its roots between 1930-1960. To help her do this, her father would give her an address of a township jazz musician and she would go and chat with them to get more information. From one musician to another Joyce kept on researching and documenting the history and transition of township music. In her early days Joyce funded her research and documentation from the sale of cakes and scones. But after giving lectures in Sweden about Zimbabwe township music Joyce was offered funding to continue her research. According to the author the objective of the research was "to better understand the entertainment culture of the earlier generation in urban Zimbabwe". The years of research that Joyce undertook resulted in her writing the book, Zimbabwe Township Music. In addition she has produced and directed a documentary on the history of music in Zimbabwe. The film received special mention at the Southern African Film Festival in 1993.

Joyce has also been involved in a number of other projects, which include research for a BBC Radio Program on "Township Jazz of the 50’s" as well as directing "Namibia Special" a film by SADC filmmakers on Namibia. The film was produced by the Nordic SADC Journalism Centre and The Finnish Broadcast – 1997.

Currently Joyce is a lecturer at the Zimbabwe College of Music and has a number of projects on the drawing board.

Dr Herbert Murerwa, the current Zimbabwean Finance Minister who also grew up in Mbare wrote the book’s foreword. He says: "Joyce’s book is a challenge for today’s youth; to expand and further develop our understanding of Zimbabwe’s musical legacy". He suggests that it is essential reading for enthusiasts of Zimbabwe Township Music.

Prominent contemporary music promoters such as Penny Yon, Jackie Cahi, Irene Gwaze and Sam Mataure amongst others are featured in Zimbabwe Township Music, which has some great pictures that revive the good old days of jazz. .

For more information on the book and video, Zimbabwe Township Music visit Joyce’s website

Audio File

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