Recording companies capitalised on us: Devera Ngwena

Recording companies capitalised on us: Devera Ngwena
Steve Ephraem

DEVERA Ngwena Jazz Band front man, legendary Jonah Moyo, has sensationally claimed that recording companies capitalised on musicians by signing them contracts which left the artistes with almost nothing.

Jonah Moyo, who is now a music staffer at Great Zimbabwe University in Masvingo, said this during the launch of his new album Devera Ngwena Volume 43 – Wandibaya panyama nhete featuring Jonisai Machinya, on Sunday 27 November 2022 on ZIFM Stereo.

The album contains 7 songs; Amai va Dee, Masvingo yotinhira, Ndozvandiri, Chikondi, Wangu Tee, Zvangu Zvauya and Linda.

Speaking to the host, Themba Mkanda, Jonah Moyo said most of the early artistes didn’t have time to scrutinise contracts before signing.

“It was tough to get a recording contract during the 1970s through 1980s. The moment one was accorded a chance to record, the excitement that followed would make one just sign a contract without even reading the contents.

“The contracts we signed took 10 percent for packing of records. Then from the remaining 90 percent, a band would be allocated only 6 percent. In other words, all it meant was that we were working for the recording companies.

“But because Devera Ngwena music was selling big, we were convinced that we were making a lot of money. Our music sold well in South Africa and up to this day we are still selling big in that country,” he said.

Asked why Devera Ngwena seemed to have been “quiet” in the past years, Jonah Moyo indicated that he was concentrating much on the South African market.

“I relocated to Venda (Thohoyandou) in South Africa in 2004. That is where I was holding live shows as well as releasing albums. I would not have reached Volume 43 if I had taken a break from music.

“Now that I am a lecturer at Great Zimbabwe University in Masvingo, I have to concentrate with the Zimbabwean market again. I promise fans that this is a permanent comeback. Devera Ngwena is back for good,” he added.

Devera Ngwena was formed at Gaths Mine in Mashava when Jonah Moyo responded to an advert by the mine to have a band in 1977. The band had their first single named “Devera Ngwena Zhimozhi” released in 1979.

On record sales, Devera Ngwena hit “Ruva remoyo wangu” is the first song in Zimbabwe to sell over 120 000 copies. In South Africa, all Devera Ngwena albums reached gold (25 000 copies) and Vol 7 reached Platinum (100 000 copies).

At its peak, Devera Ngwena toured countries like Belgium, United Kingdom, Holland and Germany. The band is still a force to reckon in Malawi and South Africa. It is in Mzansi that Jonah Moyo is regarded as the best selling artiste from Zimbabwe.

The band members who recorded Devera Ngwena Volume 1 were Jonah Moyo on lead guitar, the late Robson Banda on bass, Innocent Bitu on rhythm, the late Patrick Kabanda on drums and Jonisai Machinya on vocals.

When Robson Banda left Devera Ngwena, he was replaced by Elliot Vhiyayi who also left before the late Jabulani Bitu joined them on rhythm on Volume 2. The band later split after recording Vol 8 in 1986.

Patrick Kabanda passed on in 2008 and Jabulani Bitu in 2011.

Devera Ngwena’s all time hits include Wangu P, Solo naMutsai, Devera Ngwena Zhimozhi, Svika feya feya and Barbra.

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