The Four Brothers
The Four Brothers was a musical group which was fronted by the late Marshal Munhumumwe who wrote most of the band's songs which were didactic in nature as they played an advisory to the society. As a result of this, the band was referred to as a social evangelist. It derived its name from the fact that it was composed of four people who were brought together by their passion for music when it was formed in 1977. The band however incorporated other members but remained using the name The Four Brothers. It gained international recognition from 1980 onwards and one of the prominent advocates of the band was John Peel who was a disc jockey based in the United Kingdom (UK). The band released a couple of hit songs such as 'Makorokoto', 'Komuredhi Chitongai', 'Rudo Imoto' and 'Mbereko Yakaramba'. The band was plagued by the death of most of its members almost on a yearly basis. Efforts were however made to resuscitate the band in 2010 and 2012 but this never materialised.

Contents

Background

The demise of a band known as The Great Sounds which was formed in 1967 led to the formation of The Four Brothers. Munhumumwe and Never Mutare who initiated a move to form The Four Brothers had been members of a band fronted by Thomas Mapfumo.[1] They left Mapfumo's band to join The Great Sounds.[1] It was only in 1977 when the two decided to part ways with The Great Sounds as it was losing popularity.[1] The two incorporated Edward Matigasi and Aleck Chipaika leading to the formation of The Four Brothers. Munhumumwe was the lead singer and the drummer, Mutare played the bass guitar, Chipaika played the rhythm guitar as well as the keyboard in some instances and Matigasi was on the lead guitar.[2]

Musical Journey

Immediately after its formation, the band recorded its first single at Shed Studios in Salisbury.[2] It signed a contract to which enabled the band to perform at Chikwanha Night Club for a year which is located at Chikwanha Shopping Centre in present day Chitungwiza.[2] The band is also said to have had established a permanent home at Saratoga Night Club which was located at [Machipisa Shopping Centre]] in Highfield. [1]

From 1977 up to 1986, the band was staging its shows within the parameters of the country's boarders and mostly in urban areas and their genre was rock n roll. This was because of the political context prevailing during the time the band was formed. The Rhodesian government had banned African traditional music which was argued to incite feelings of nationalism amongst the guerrillas and those who were not partaking in the Second Chimurenga to support the guerrillas to advance their cause.[1] As a result of this, the band ended up hosting shows in the city centres and playing covers of the songs by the Beatles, a group based in the United States of America.[1] The band is said to have remained poor as it was unable to raise enough funds to purchase new equipment, let alone to organise world tours.[1]

It has however been reported that in 1980 when the country gained its independence, the group released its first hit song, 'Makorokoto', whose sales reached more than 100 000 copies.[1] This can be attributed to the independence euphoria. During the same time, the group added a saxophone player.[1] The group was not poor per se but the revenue generated was not adequate to organise tours outside the country.

Gaining International Recognition

It has been reported that prior to 1986, The Four Brothers remained being a domestic ensemble which was registering success in Zimbabwe only. Stuart Lyons who was an international promoter has been credited for bringing The Four Brothers on the world map. Lyons is said to have enabled The Four Brothers to perform in the then West Germany, Canada and the UK, funding the group.[2] Since then the group began to gain international recognition, frequently making tours in Europe after have been initiated by Lyons.[2]

John Peel who was a disc jockey based in the UK was also an advocate of The Four Brothers and this increased the group's support base as well as its recognition internationally. Between 1988 and 2000, on his show incorporated shows which he had recorded with The Four Brothers.[2] In 1989, Peel invited The Four Brothers to perform on his 50th birthday party, a move which can also be argued to have increased the popularity of the band.[2]

Efforts of Peel and Lyons also saw The Four Brothers being invited to perform at the Sligo Arts Festivals in Ireland in 1999.[1] Munhumumwe was unable to be part of the tour because he was now ailing after he had succumbed to stroke which was associated being a result of his involvement in a car accident in 1997. Albert Ruwizhi who became part of the band in 1990 as a drummer, led The Four Brothers from 1997 and he died mysteriously in 1999 after the band had performed at Peel's 60th birthday anniversary.[1]

Demise of the band

It has been reported that the period when Munhumumwe was no longer instrumental in the band, preceded the demise of The Four Brothers. From 1997 onwards, the group however managed to record albums being fronted by Ruwizhi and Robium Chauraya who died in 2001. This shows that the band was not yet defunct. When Chauraya died, James Nyamandi began to lead the band but he went on to form his own band Makombe Brothers.[3] By implication, The Four Brothers band was only existing in name. The death of the band's members almost on a yearly basis was however detrimental to the functionality of the band.

In 2007, James Nyamandi who was once and the front man of The Four Brothers tried to make attempts to resuscitate the band with Frank Sibanda who was the only surviving member of the band who had been part of The Four Brothers for a long time.[2] This was all in vain. Sibanda died in 2010.[2] Nyamandi took it upon himself to ensure that the legacy of the band was to survive.

Feud over the use of the band's name

In his bid to ensure that the legacy of The Four Brothers band was to survive, Nyamandi released an album, 'Marambadoro' in 2012 using the name, The Four Brothers.[2] This resulted in a heated debate between Marshal Munhumumwe Junior and Nyamandi. The matter was resolved and the civil court ordered Nyamandi not to use the name The Four Brothers though he was once a member of the group on the basis that the Munhumumwe family objected to that.[2]

Discography

  1. Rudo Chete
  2. Rugare
  3. Makorokoto
  4. Together Again
  5. Kumawere
  6. Greatest Hits volume 1 and 2
  7. Ruvengo
  8. Mukadzi Wepiri
  9. Mambakwedza
  10. Manga Manga
  11. Wachiveiko

References

  1. 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 , The Four Brothers (ZIMBABWE), "FeileAfrica",retrieved:26 June 2014"
  2. 2.00 2.01 2.02 2.03 2.04 2.05 2.06 2.07 2.08 2.09 2.10 Nyemudzai Kakore, The Four Brothers’ journey, "The Herald", published:13 Jan 2014,retrieved:26 June 2014"
  3. Wonder Guchu, Four Brothers one group that suffered death, "Intimacy Moments with Zim Musicians", published:7 Dec 2011,retrieved:26 June 2014"