Mkhululi Ncube, showbiz journalist
In terms of respect, he is to rumba music what Nicholas Zachariah is to Sungura – a speaker who has helped many people grow in the music scene and fills that role.
This is the story of Honest Regiment Kamanga, popularly known as Madalaboy, Nyasa and Uncle Dallas in rumba music circles.
The musician was born to a Malawian who fathered him with his mother in Salisbury (now Harare) in 1968.
He was due to move to his mother’s native village in Makhulela Village, Bulilima District in 1975 where he grew up in the midst of the country’s liberation war.
He briefly stayed in Malawi before coming to Zimbabwe with his mother but does not know what ended his parents’ relationship.
Despite being one of the mainstays of rumba music after the demise of rumba legends such as Solomon Skuza and Ndux Malax, Madalaboy remained largely in the background, mainly due to his humility, most of the people who passed through his hands gained notoriety and stardom.
He was the founding member and leader of Ndolwane Super Sounds and despite the birth of the group which recorded successes, he left after paving the way to stardom.
“I was the leader of Ndolwane Super Sounds but we led the group together and decisions were made collectively.
Develop Moyo was our rhythm guitarist and I played lead while Abson Ndebele played bass guitar. Abson was to return to rhythm guitar after Develop left the band. Charles (Ndebele) and Martin (Sibanda) who were also composers were given the vocals,” he said.
Ever keen to take credit for his fruits in music, Madalaboy salutes his late teacher and former legislator Mangwe and former Deputy Home Minister Obedingwa Mguni for planting and nurturing the seed of music within him.
“I came to Zimbabwe in 1975, but because of the war, I only went to school when the schools reopened in 1980. I spoke the Tumbuka language of Malawi, but I lost it because there was no one I could talk to.. I was in the school choir and our choirmaster was Obedingwa Mguni.
“He started by teaching us about impregnation and then introduced homemade guitar instruments. We won a lot of rewards in the form of goats in competitions.
However, I did not complete my secondary education and moved to South Africa where I managed to unite with my former classmates, including the late Abson Ndebele and Charles Ndebele with whom I sang at school.
“We then regrouped in South Africa to pursue music in 1993.
We decided to do a demo for record companies to see if they could accept us in the music industry. We were called the Big Four and the demo we did was called Noyana.
“We were pleasantly surprised that people loved the demo as we did it to get approval from the record companies. It made us take music seriously and we decided to boost our band,” a- he declared.
The Umona hitmaker said that while looking for more guys to work with them, they were approached by Collen Moyo who expressed interest in joining them.
Madalaboy said that Collen introduced him to Martin Sibanda and was “blown away” by his singing, which led him to recommend him to the other members to have the two incorporated into the band.
“This is how Martin Sibanda and Collen Moyo became members of Ndolwane Super Sounds. Once they arrived we decided to get a new name and despite many proposals Ndolwane Super Sounds was the agreed one and so began the journey.
What many may not know is that the first album supposed to be produced by Ndolwane Super Sounds was Nimcitsheleni in 1996, not Africa.
“We recorded Nimcitsheleni in Harare, but somehow it seems there was a mistake in the backup of the lead guitar I had been playing and it got deleted.
Efforts to get me to do this again failed due to communication and logistical issues as I was in Bulawayo and Abson Ndebele was in Harare.
The Nimcitsheleni album was to be re-recorded later without Madalaboy’s input after producing the Africa album which marked the band’s entry into the music business.
Although he is the midwife of Ndolwane Super Sounds, Madalaboy is very happy with the success the group achieved without him and salutes the members he left for the great work they did.
“I amicably left Ndolwane Super Sounds in 1996 and came to Zimbabwe and formed my band, The Shining Fellows.
I didn’t want a group name that ties me to a particular place hence the name. I produced my first album in 1997 titled Umona which was well received. I worked with drummer Joseph Silwane who is from Gwanda and he also had songs on the album.
“I named my music Itshovatshova and introduced various flavors borrowed from other cultures. I never looked back after my debut album until now,” he said.
But how did he earn the name Madalaboy?
“I got the nickname Madalaboy from my producer, the late Tymon Mabaleka, when I recorded my first album and the song Umona. He wanted to know who this Madalaboy I was singing about was.
He thought I was singing about someone, but when I told him that person didn’t exist, he then gave me the name because he thought I was hiding something from him. That’s how I got that name and it stuck with me.”
During the economic hardship of the 2000s, Madalaboy said he stopped performing in live shows and instead helped people recording in Bulawayo before moving again to South Africa in 2001 where he sought employment. , but continued with the music.
The Thandaza hit-maker said he had to reunite with his teacher, Obedingwa Mguni in South Africa and they worked together in a nightclub as bartenders, but the late politician has improved academically, which saw him succeed in this country before returning home.
According to Madalaboy, they had discussed forming a band with the late Mguni before the formation of Ndolwane Super Sounds, but that did not materialize. They remained close friends even after Mguni returned home to be a full-time politician.
“I was inspired by two great musicians, Solomon Skuza and Leonard Dembo. I religiously followed their music and to a lesser extent, that of Ndux Malax. In all my compositions, I normally look at what we encounter in our daily life and try to use it, either by writing advisory songs or by writing songs that can encourage unity between people.
I’m proud of what I’ve done so far to give opportunities to young people because music is a passion,” he said.
Madalaboy said that there are few rhumba musicians who have not passed through his hands to see their knowledge of music transmitted and for fear of forgetting some of them, he does not want to mention the long list of those whom he helped.
“I have 18 albums to my credit and four collaborations with Allen Ndoda. Two weeks ago I produced two singles from my upcoming album Bekutheni after fans requested an album.
The two tracks are Abafuni Ikhulunywe and Vimba. I will give fans more tracks until the whole album is out,” he said.
You have to listen to his music to understand the artist’s enduring power, hand and ear for quality production and his last two tracks bear witness to this.
Commenting on the Rhumba genre, Madalaboy said, “Rhumba music has grown in terms of recognition in different cultures.
However, it is on the technological level that we are far behind. We need to teach people about digital platforms. The companies that marketed and distributed our music for a long time have folded because of technology.
“Technology, although good, has killed our livelihoods because our fans are still being left behind as most of them still prefer buying CDs instead of accessing music on digital stores.
Selling CDs makes it difficult to distribute our music, so pirates profit from our sweat,” he said.
His eldest son, Handsome Kamanga is already an established guitarist after graduating from his father’s famous music school. He is one of the most sought after guitarists in rhumba circles while the other two boys and a girl make up his children.
The musician is popular for his clean shave and stage costumes as he never misses an opportunity to put on formal attire and look presentable whenever he is on stage.
Uncle Dalas likes traditional foods such as idelele and umfushwa, among others, and is not a picky person when it comes to food.
“I’m a simple person when it comes to food. The only thing I don’t eat is pork due to my religious beliefs as I am a member of the 12 Apostolic Church.
This will explain why I have a number of gospel songs on my albums. I am not a pastor, but just a church member who is very close to the Word of God.