Written by Collence Chisita
Reggae vibes in Zimbabwe are so strong but what is stronger is the original or undiluted reggae sounds from the Victoria Falls. The writer had visited “Mosi -oa- Tunya” the “Smoke that thunders” in Zimbabwe. Victoria Falls is favorite destination for tourists because of its awe stirring and magnificence associated with its natural mysticism shrouded in Tonga culture. It is within such an ambience that various genre of music including reggae marimba sounds reverberate welcoming you to the lovely Victoria Falls.
The writer Zambezi was in Victoria Falls for a workshop where I had an opportunity to meet and listen to the sweet sound of Sinsika Reggae Marimba Band. I felt inspired to share my experiences with members of this upcoming group that is common among tourists in Victoria Falls. I am still overwhelmed by the positive cosmic energy that radiated between me and the group when we met for the first time in the first week of September,2015.
Marimba music is commonly played in Southern Africa and Zimbabwe is no exception. I was stunned by the band member’s modesty. Clad in African attire they looked so majestic like real spiritual or soulful warriors. They exhibited an air hospitality, conviviality tolerance, perseverance and resilience typical of Zimbabweans.
The group has taken into music, just like how a duck takes into water, if we are to borrow Dambudzo Marechera the late and famous Zimbabwean dreadlocked writer.Sinsika Marimba Band was formed in 1994.The group traces their historical experience to school when they were active members of the school drama groups. They nurtured their talent through the family of orientation and secondary groups. With time the group evolved into solid musical group with a purpose to entertain and educate society. The group consists of four (4) members namely Goliath Phiri, Mthabisi Watinaye and Victor Chindeza. The group draws inspiration from local traditions and Rastafarian. Rastafarianism is popular in Zimbabwe due to the influences of Bob Marley, Peter Tosh, Bunny Wailer, Gregory Isaacs, and Burning Spear among others. Zimbabwe’s history and future is dishevelled with Rastafarian culture and ambience. It is no surprise that Sinsika Marimba Band epitomizes the undiluted and uncontaminated and unplugged roots rock marimba sound sung in local languages and English.
The group sings about social issues ranging from love, happiness, drug abuse, prostitution. Front man Mthabisi laments that modernisation causes social ills, for example, tourism has brought benefits and ills for the community in Victoria Falls. The Rastafarian front man vehemently states that it is the duty of the musician to teach or educate the people, hence the need for a message in the music. He singer views music in the context of cultural capital that can be leveraged to bring positive change and rewards for the members. The adage “the message is in the music” comes out crystal clear when you sit down to listen to the sounds of Sinsika Marimba Band. This message resonates with Bob Marley, Peter Tosh and Burning Spear who are key proponents of conscious reggae music. “What the Rastaman represents is positivity!” Peter Tosh. Indeed Sinsika represents positivity in its purest sense. The band’s front man Goliath states that their music emphasize respect for humanity and need for intergenerational dialogue.
Generally, the marimba is a percussion instrument made up of a set of wooden bars struck with mallets to produce musical tones. The sound is amplified by resonators attached to the bars which are systematically as those of a piano. Marimba is a type of an idiophone, distinguishable by its more resonant and lower-pitched range within which most notes of a vocal part fall.
The group was influenced by legendary musicians like Peter Tosh, “ Bush Doctor” and Bob Marley” Natural mystic” I Jah Man “ Are we a warrior”. The group has an album entitled “Back a yard” whereby the music was produced at the backyard. Other songs on the album include “Nkosi Sikelela Africa” “Rugare” (Happiness)” and Raindrops. They have also a popular song “Sinsika go reggae Marimba”. The Band hails from the ghetto in Victoria Falls and they are hired to play at the Hotels, entertaining local and foreign tourists who crave for a peaceful or serene environment filled with local music.
Marimba music like reggae promotes unity, peace and chant down Babylon according to Mthabisi.The bands message is critical in educating people on cultural values in the age of globalization” Do not forget your culture, do not forget your roots” echoes Mthabisi.. The Band has played in South Africa, South Korea, Namibia, Zambia, and Botswana. The group plays reggae through marimba and they call this genre “reggae marimba”.
The band is desperately in need of promotion to leverage reggae marimba on the global musical landscape. I strongly believe this group has immense potential to contribute to the reggae marimba musical landscape. Who knows three to five years from now these guys will set the world alight with music. When I left Victoria Falls the sweet reggae marimba sounds of Sinsika continued to echo in my ears and mind.