Sifelilizwe “ Fair ” Shumba Is Back
13 August 2021
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…. as Musorobhangu Album is thrown into the public domain

Review by Dr Tinashe Gumbo

Indeed, like wine, Peps Kings got better with age. Sifelilizwe Shumba’s Peps Kings entered the music industry with their first album in 2000. Since then, the group has managed to produce seven albums to date.

The 2021 project by Peps Kings entitled Musorobhangu produced through the Trutone Studios is a show of maturity and excellence by the group. The journey seems to have been long, winding and at times tough but the group has endured. In Musorobhangu, we see and hear of this journey being narrated by the Peps Kings frontman, Sifelilizwe Shumba. Before I do a song by song analysis, I need to quickly indicate that the album is an excellent one. The sound, lead, rhythm and bass guitars as well as the drums were skilfully arranged and mixed.

My Dembo Background

In this brief, I wish to express my appreciation of the latest album from Peps Kings. May I refresh everyone’s mind though, that I am a strong and unmatched fan of the late Sungura Guru, Learnard Dembo of the Barura Express. I followed his music from my early ages, I studied it and currently working on a research covering Dembo’s history. Thus, my views on Musorobhangu are hugely informed by my strong love for Dembo’s work. Thus, in my analysis of Musorobhangu, I use an appreciative perspective and totally avoids direct comparison of Peps Kings with the Barura Express.

Musorobhangu is almost a day old, just been taken off the Bothell “African” Nyamhondera’s oven who was ably assisted by Gidza and Isaac Masendeke. The name Nyamhondera is synonymous with good, flowing and appetising sound system. The man has been in the industry for a long time. Thus, once Sifelilizwe confided in me that he was working on “something” new with “Mudhara Nyamhondera”, I concluded that the outcome was going to be far better than earlier projects. Indeed, when the album was finally shared with me a couple of days ago, my conclusion was confirmed. Reader, Musorobhangu is an excellent work. I had to bet, that, this time “Zvikaramba Ndorega”. Peps Kings have produced some thrilling work. You just have to grab a copy and you will confirm this.

Musorobhangu

The title track, Musorobhangu (which is nine minutes and five seconds long and is the second song on the album list) will likely to be popular with Peps Kings’ fans across tribal, political, gender and generational lines. The word Musorobhangu itself, is not new to Zimbabweans. We normally use the term derogatively to describe the almost deformed shape of a human head. This is against humanity though, as we are always warned, that “Seka hurema wafa!” as disability can hit anyone at any time.

In Musorobhangu track, Sifelilizwe humbly appeals to the public to take some moments to listen to his music. He narrates the journey he has travelled for the past twenty one years from his first album to the latest one. As a concluding remark in the song, he would even say “Zvikaramba Ndorega!” implying that he feels like the latest album is his best project such that the public should receive it well. He reminds the listeners of the days of “Vachibhanzi Vauya” of 2002. Emotionally, Sifelilizwe also takes time to mourn his late father Mr Pepukai (Peps) and further consoles his mother for the loss. In “Tirivatadzi pamberi penyu nhai baba…” line, the Peps Kings frontman takes the audience back to 2015, when the song wreaked havoc on the national radio stations and in public places.

Of course, Sifelilizwe further reminds us of his aspiration to grab “Pillow Dzema USA” (a pillow of United States Dollars), if only the public can support him in his latest project.

Basically, in Musorobhangu track, the musician does what I would call self-encouragement since the “race is being run in sand”. However, I was surprised to note that Shumba acknowledges me personally in this song “….Tinashe Gumbo, Mavorovondo”. This is so humbling to a nonentity like myself. Together with Sifelilizwe, we went to Mavorovondo Primary School in Mberengwa in the 1980s.

Chimende

Then comes track number five, entitled Chimende. For me, here lies Peps Kings’ maturity in terms of arrangement of guitars, drums and the voices. The lead guitarist, rhythm and bass players and drummer did so well that the sound mixer should have smiled when he finally put the work together. What an impressive work from the group? The message in Chimende is very strong. A sister, brother or friend is being advised not to always force himself or herself into every situation without checking his or her relevance. The singer warns that at times we embarrass those around us by always jumping into commenting, participating or involving ourselves in issues that do not directly concern us. One needs to check whether he or she is invited or accommodated in certain spaces, otherwise, one embarrasses himself or herself and even those around him or her.

I noted some Dembo flavour in this track. Reader, you will surely think of Dembo when you hear Sifelilizwe saying “Ukasanyara Mukoma wangukaaaaa….” The “kaaaa” is one of Dembo’s trade marks for those who follow his music. Shumba fused it nicely into this song and because of my Dembo background, I easily became attracted to this track. Listen again reader to this great song, you will be forgiven too to think that you are interacting with the Innocent Mujintu rhythm. What a rhythm in Chimende? This is good! Peps Kings have greatly matured in mixing the guitars and drums.

Tambarara

Track number three on the album (ironically, I have also placed it at three in my list of favourites) is Tambarara. The boy is directing the message to a beautiful, loving and merciful lady. Listening to this song, one will be reminded of how the late great Marshal Munhumumwe of the Four Brothers group described “Vimbai”. Those of the old days of the 1980s, you will remember how Marshal described “Vimbai Mwana akanaka…..” (Kudetemba chaiko). Like Marshal, Sifelilizwe uses deep and strong Shona words to describe this lovely lady. The lady is equated to a Giraffe, King’s Horse and also to many other niceties. The singer claims that God took time to skilfully mould this beautiful figure. Once again, the lead, rhythm and bass guitars really “talk” here. Gidza’s bass is something else colleagues. I will also share this song with Mukoma Mujintu, and he will surely appreciate the rhythm that was thrown here. As someone who loves Dembo music, and been following Mukoma Mujintu with keen interest beyond Barura Express, I nearly thought that he was the one playing this one on Tambarara. This is a well arranged song in all aspects of music.

Baba naMai

Track number one, Baba naMai is a gender justice song. This will go a long way in contributing towards family cohesion. It is basically a song against domestic violence in general. Sifelilizwe reminds the audience that a family is made up of our mothers, fathers and children. There should be some complementarity among these family elements in terms of roles and responsibilities. He would say “Chipanera chegejo hachigadziriswe ndege….” and vice versa. This means that we need to utilise the relevant and appropriate tools for all the tasks at hand. He further advises the mother and father to properly nurture our children so that we cultivate a sense of family hood in them.

I have already shared the song, Baba naMai with my wife, Angela who is a gender justice activist. All the other songs did not lure Angela’s attention. However, when I played Baba naMai this morning on our way to work, she automatically became a friend to this song. I am sure the women rights groups will utilise this in their ongoing work against domestic violence. I will make efforts to ensure that my colleagues in the civil society particularly the Women’s Coalition and Musasa Project among others get a copy of this album.

Rudo Rwemari

Lastly, track number four, entitled, Rudo Rwemari, is another socially provoking song. Sifelilizwe introduces the song with an unfamiliar beat to his music. At first, I thought he had gone the reggae way. However, he quickly changes to his usual stuff after he had already announced his displeasure with today’s love system. He laments the erosion of true and genuine love among Zimbabwes’ boys and girls. He does not take time to appeal to the Good Lord to intervene to save the situation. He actually uses the term Yahweh to show the seriousness of the matter under discussion. Of course, this could have been influenced by his Christian background as a Lutheran figure.

Clearly, nowadays, it is love for money according to Sifelilizwe in Rudo Rwemari. Yet, we need to be converted and become true lovers. In this song, a lady mocks a boy telling him that “true love is not in money”. Sifelilizwe indirectly honours Mashwede, a business mogul and his former boss and mentor, operating in the Glen View area. Mashwede runs a popular place where people meet to drink and dine. Once again, I was personally impressed by the arrangement of all the guitars and drums in this song.

Encouraging Feedback

I have already received feedback from my colleagues across the globe about the album. Owen Murozvi, a Human Rights Lawyer and Academic from Chipinge, who has been following the Peps Kings over the years, has saluted the group for the job well done. Fainos Jika Nkomo of Mberengwa who grew up with Sifelilizwe has also congratulated the group. Boniface Shumba (the man who played Vachibhanzi in the hit song that bears that name in 2002) has also already been convinced that the latest album is the best of all that the group has produced so far. Most of the Guruva Former Students Association (GFSA), an association where Sifelilizwe is a member, have also congratulated Peps Kings for the Musorobhangu album.

By the way, Sifelilizwe has already inspired young musicians such as the Bulawayo-based star, Gadzirai Moyo of the Supernova Stars. Sifelilizwe and Gadzirai come from the same ward in Mberengwa. I personally feel proud to be associated with the two and I am waiting for that day….that day when Supernova Stars and Peps Kings do a collaboration. And….Vanhu Vangazipigwa!

The Journey to Musorobhangu

Just to refresh our minds, the Peps Kings has so far produced the following albums:

Unovhaira Nei (2000): The hit songs from this album were Usamunamata Haasi Gotwe Renyika and Kana Uchimuda Taura Ndikusotere.

Vachibhanzi (2002) and the title track became the hit.

Zai Regondo (2005): This was mainly in remembrance of Sifelilizwe’s father, Mr Pepukai (Peps) who had passed on.

Chifinhu (2015): The main hit was Tirivatadzi. I need to declare here that, of all the songs from Peps Kings, this is my favourite. It almost pushes me nearer to my Creator (God).

Ndezvenyasha (2016): The main hit was Pillow Dzema USA.

Shumba YeMberengwa (2019): The main hit was Kwesha Man’a. This has remained popular with our Zimbabweans who are in the Diaspora as it reminds us of our roots.

Musorobhangu (2021): This has just been released and I strongly urge Zimbabweans, radio stations and civil society members to take time to listen to this new offering from Peps Kings.

The Team

Sifelilizwe composed all the songs and is the vocalist too (backing himself-what a talent?). Other members include Courage Paraziva (Lead); Jahwi (formerly with Tongai Moyo’s group); Gidza (Bass); Banabas (Drums) and John Muroyi (Manager) among others. The Peps King has been well supported by Polite “Spokes” Moyo for nearly a decade now. Moyo has been a pillar of support for the group.

For Orders and Interaction with Sifelilizwe : 0779478554
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