George Sibanda was a Singer/songwriter/guitarist from Bulawayo.He is believed to be Zimbabwe and Africa's first music star, discovered by Hugh Tracey in 1948. Sibanda died in the 1950s allegedly from excessive alcohol intake ,it is said that he could not cope with fame and fortune and had drunk himself to death [1].He rose to stardom with his Gwabi Gwabi hit song


He was discovered by Hugh Tracey in Bulawayo in the 1940s in the then Southern Rhodesia.In the 1940s Bulawayo was quite a scene. Many young men and women were moving there from around Southern Rhodesia now Zimbabwe, seeking jobs in the booming factories. Naturally, the music scene was vibing. Among the budding stars was George Sibanda, and his guitar.Around the same time, Gallo Records, a major recording company in South Africa, was looking for new sounds to record. That’s how the likes of Sibanda and other contemporaries such as Josaya Hadebe and Sabelo Mathe got their break.[2].

By some accounts, George’s first recording with Tracey, the children’s folk song Gwabi Gwabi, is the first commercial recording in Zimbabwe. It was not until 1959 that a commercial recording company set up shop, with the opening of Teal Records (what we today know as Gramma).

Gwabi Gwabi was recorded and released in 1948 under the Decca label, as part of Tracey’s Music of Africa series. And that’s how its crossover story started. The record was reissued in Europe in the ‘50s, re-released on a 12-inch by Gallo in SA in the ‘60s, and issued yet again in the early ‘70s. It was that good.

In the ‘60s, an American folk singer laid his hands on Music of Africa. The guitar-plucking and infectious voice of George of Bulawayo were obviously too hard to resist. Soon, the record was being played by guitarists in the unlikeliest of places in America; redneck bars where struggling country and folk singers were used to playing songs about poor harvests and cattle.

Soon, there was something of a scramble to record Gwabi Gwabi among folk singers. The track was soon on a musical review, Wait a Minim, and was recorded by dozens of folk singers, among them singers with names such as Ramblin'Joe Elliot, Taj Mahal and Arlo Guthrie.


  1. [1], The Legendary George Sibanda , Published: no date , Retrieved: 25 December 2017
  2. [2], The Legendary George Sibanda , Published: no date , Retrieved: 29 December 2017