Clive Malunga

REMEMBERING THE FOUR BROTHERS

Do you remember the Four Brothers Band? Fronted by the ever-smiling Marshal Munhumumwe, the gifted band’s powerful lyrics sang in Shona by Marshal’s melodious voice saw the group reaching the zenith of both local and international stardom. They gave us hits such Makorokoto, Rudo Moto, Vimbayi and Ndivhumbamireyi to name but a few.  I first met the Four Brothers at Machipisa Night Club in 1985. They were the resident band at the club. I had joined their supporting group called the Blues Revolution which was also a resident band at Machipisa Night Club. I, therefore, naturally developed a strong attachment to the Four Brothers Band in general and Mukoma Marshal’s singing in particular.

When Mukoma Marshal Munhumumwe got sick, I approached the managing director of Gramma Records, Mr Julian Howard, to assist Mr Munhumumwe with his medical bills. The Four Brothers, had a recording contract with Gramma Records. Mr Julian Howard first gave me a cheque of $30,000 and at a later stage, an additional cheque of $20,000. Unfortunately, Marshal’s life could not be saved.



After the demise of Mukoma Marshall Munhumumwe, Jenaguru organized a two-month musical tour of Japan in 2002. I decided to incorporate the surviving members of the Four Brothers Band into Jenaguru Band.  Our band members for the tour comprised of Never Mutare, Frank Sibanda, Alick Chapaika and Simba Ndowa. Additional session musicians were Adam Chisvo (mbira/conga), and Sheila Tsanangura and Anna Juma, both on backing vocals.

We did our rehearsals at Ziko Shopping Centre. The Four Brothers Band members were punctual and disciplined. Mukoma Never Mutare had then become the band leader, deputised by Frank Sibanda. We were going to tour Japan with a Japanese band called Ndana. The group’s leader, Yamakita, came all the way from Japan to Zimbabwe, so that we could jointly arrange the stage plan. A stage plan or stage diagram is a visual representation illustrating the band set-up, band member placement on stage, what costumes to use and the types and placement of musical instruments. This cross-country tour was going to take us to several Japanese cities namely Sapporo, Shari, Tomakomai, Obihiro, Otaru, Hakodate, Ashibetsu and Urakawa.

A professional cameraman, Victor Motaung, was hired from South Africa to come and take photographs of all the band members who were going to be on the Hokkaido Musical Tour. Our preparations were very thorough.   

The tour was a great success. Each band member had his or her own contract except the Four Brothers members who had a collective contract signed by Never Mutare and Frank Sibanda.

Our tour to Japan was well sponsored and well organised. Wherever we performed we were treated to a welcome party on arrival in the city and when we were leaving, a farewell party. These festivities included all members on the tour. We created many contacts and friends.

At some point during the tour, I noticed that Never Mutare was not feeling well. He was very sick. Knowing Japanese medical facilities to be top notch, I tried to convince him to utilize some of his tour money to seek medical treatment while we were still there. He refused, saying that he was okay and would manage.

We recorded a six track album in Japan which we re-recorded when we came back to Zimbabwe. We were paid handsomely by the tour organisers and our tour was almost flawless. The only problem we encountered was the disappearance of 500,000 yen (equivalent to US$5,000) from the purse of one of the Japanese women who were welcoming us. The women were preparing a welcome party for us and left their handbags unattended, knowing very well that the only people who were occupying the room were Jenaguru Band members. On checking their bags later, one woman discovered that her money was missing. That incident really shamed us and drastically dampened the mood of the welcome party. When the money could not be found, Mrs. Tomoko Takahashi, the managing director of Jenaguru, paid back the money.

When we came back from the tour, we arranged to meet at Shed Studios for payment. All the session musicians were paid individually but the Four Brothers were represented by Never Mutare and Frank Sibanda. During the payment I asked Kelly Rusike, who was a sound engineer at Shed Studios, to act as a witness. A few months later, I was informed of the passing on of Never Mutare.

The original Four Brothers Band members: Marshal Munhumumwe, Never Mutare, Frank Sibanda and Alick Chapaika have all passed on but their music lives on and is still as good as it was years back.

When we were on tour with the Four Brothers Band, we took the opportunity to source for funds for a Christmas party for Zimbabwe’s street children. We managed to raise a substantial amount of money. The party was held at the Harare Gardens Open-Air Theatre just before the 2002 Jenaguru Music Festival.  Jenaguru bought a lot of food and drink for kids. The party brought a lot of hope and joy to all the children who attended. Onesimo Linos and Wagonetsa Toropa, two boys from Vhombozi Primary School, recited two beautiful poems on HIV/AIDS which were well received by the crowd. The Daily Mirror of 5 November 2002 quoted me saying, “The street kids have not been getting that love. They do not celebrate Christmas neither do they know the New Year.”

Whenever you enjoy yourself, pause to think of others less fortunate than you. Make a decision to make a contribution that would bring smiles on their faces. No gift is too small.