Hamba Kahle Mfowethu (Farewell Dear Brother) is one of the songs that etched the late David Mbuso Masondo’s band, Soul Brothers, in their fans’ minds about three decades ago.
Today, this song aptly plays in many fans’ heads as they go down memory lane with the band that belted out tunes like Siyajabula Okwesikhashana (Joy Is Short-lived) in the mid ’80s, when the band was the Beatles equivalent of mbhaqanga music.
Soul Brothers’ 41-year journey in the music industry is intertwined with the 55-year-old radio station that played and made their music a household name, Ukhozi FM, which was initially called Radio Zulu.
One of the greatest African language radio stations’ announcers, Cyril Bongani “Kansas City” Mchunu, would sing the band’s praises as “Ogandaganda baseNingizimu Afrika” (South African Steamrollers) each time he played one of their tunes. Like true steamrollers, Masondo and co-founder Moses Ngwenya made their mark on the local music landscape.
In 2012 President Jacob Zuma acknowledged the group’s contribution to the local music scene.
“The South African musical landscape, especially uMbhaqanga genre, is richer because of the mammoth contribution of the Soul Brothers,” said Zuma.
“I especially appreciate your messages of community building, social cohesion, respect for human life and dignity as well as their beautiful rendition of daily life chronicles that are always imbued in every song and every album.”
Another Ukhozi FM radio announcer, Welcome “Bhodloza” Nzimande, who would later become station manager, added more steam to Soul Brothers’ groundbreaking journey with his creative flair on the airwaves. Linda Sibiya would later take over as one of the younger announcers who were fascinated by the group’s music and stage presence.
As music gods would have it later in the band’s life cycle – 30 albums later, when the gigs were drying up and their fortunes were dwindling, Nzimande – now a businessman – took over as their manager to return them to their glory days.
Sibiya, now hosting a chat show on Mzansi Magic, was one of the last people to speak to the group with “Mdav’ Uyadavuza” Masondo at the helm. If life had an “exit interview” this was it, and a perfect one at that – with both host and guest enjoying every minute.
Masondo’s health reportedly took a knock during a live performance in Port Elizabeth earlier this year, and he was rushed to hospital.
His health continued to deteriorate and he died yesterday in a Johannesburg hospital.
South Africa has lost one of its most celebrated music icons.
Expressing his condolences today, Zuma said: “The whole nation mourns this talented icon of our country, whose music not only put South Africa on the global world stage but also could be heard in the streets, in the valleys and all corners of our country. It was music for the whole family.”
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