Insimbi ZeZhwane here to stay!
Mkhululi Ncube, [email protected]
It was a comeback appearance which lived up to its billing as Insimbi ZeZhwane returned to the stage last Friday to a sold-out show at Palace Hotel in Bulawayo.
So starved were the fans that the gate charges, which were initially pegged at US$3 had to be raised to US$5 in a bid to control the crowds which kept swelling up to around 11pm.
People travelled from far and wide for the show and they were not disappointed as the band lived up to its billing.
It was a show at which everything worked well as the venue’s entry points were well managed and the sound system was on point. Watching the fans walk into the venue, most smartly dressed, one thing was clear, they were in a grooving mood, showing just how much they had missed the band.
This was the band’s first performance after they were involved in a car accident three months ago that claimed the lives of two of their members, Elvis “MaEli” Mathe and Thembinkosi “Maviri” Mpofu. Taking to the stage at 11.25pm, they never wasted time and the band proved it had what it takes to be among the best.
The line-up comprised the late Ma Eli’s younger brother — Luke “Ergan” Mathe on lead guitar, with Praylord “Binkie” Mathe on the main rhythm and Benediction Mguni and Sherpard Mayenziwe taking turns on the sub rhythm.
Taking over from MaEli on the lead vocals was Frank “Hightower” Masuku backed by John “Walkerberry” Luphahla with Brema on bass.
The young Ergan was the toss of the night as he shone and sent the crowd wild as he proved he was the right replacement for his late brother.
Many feared the band was going to struggle with vocals following the loss of Ma Eli, but Higher Tower and WalkerBerry, showed great potential.
Drummer Siyabenya from rhumba musician, Godulude’s band, assisted SaMsobho on the drums replacing late Maviri.
The band’s co-founder and bassist, Brema who has not fully recovered from leg injuries sustained in the accident, strummed the guitar while sitting on a chair.
In response to the cheers from the crowd, Brema could be seen nodding in appreciation.
Money “rained on stage” from jubilant fans as the group performed one of their hits, GPS. The song loved by many has been nominated for the Roil Bulawayo Arts Awards in the Song of the Year category.
After Insimbi ZeZhwane concluded their set, Godolude took over and closed the perfect night, which proved the popularity of “Indazi” as the late Ma Eli referred to the rhumba genre.
Among those who packed the venue were musicians, Madlela Skhobokhobo, Zinjazayamluma, Godolude, up-and-coming rhumba bands and DJ Mapressa. Former Bulawayo deputy mayor Mlandu Ncube was also part of the crowd.
Speaking after the show, Brema was at a loss for words.
“I don’t know what to say about this huge endorsement from our fans. This will definitely give me the power to continue working because this huge crowd is a testimony that people want us to continue playing. I’m grateful for this and I want to promise the fans that we’re here to stay,” said Brema.
The band’s manager Bahlanu “Sagqumo” Sibanda who travelled to Bulawayo from South Africa for the show, said the attendance was what the doctor ordered as it gave a huge boost to the team. He said following the accident, the band went through a very difficult period, and they needed something to uplift them.
“After that difficult phase, the boys needed something like this. The attendance’s message is ‘aluta continua’. We’ll build from this because this is our first show.
“The boys shocked me on stage. I’d like to commend the people of Bulawayo for the amazing support through their attendance,” Sagqumo said.
“I must confess that we’ve launched albums in South Africa but we have never experienced this huge attendance. I promise that we’ll launch the next album in Bulawayo,” said the elated Sagqumo.
Fellow rhumba musician Madlela Skhobokhobo said Insimbi ZeZhwane was no doubt, the band of the moment and the most followed in Bulawayo and Matabeleland. He said as fellow artistes, it is important to support the band as it picks up the pieces.
The proprietor of Palace Hotel, Tapiwa Gandiwa was commended for offering his venue to the band for free. — @themkhust