Both David Coplan and Joyce Makwenda point to the Ndebele (with their close roots to Zulu) styles in southern Zimbabwe, notably Bulawayo, as an early significant influence on maskanda with artists such as Josaya Hadebe, George Sibanda and Sabelo Mathe.
|Josaya Hadebe from Makwende's book|
Makwenda, in her book Zimbabwe Township Music, actually credits Hadebe, as having introduced the ukuvamba (vamping) style in the late 1940s when he would come to South African towns, and draw huge crowds while busking on street corners. Significantly, Hadebe’s songs, as Makwende points out, were “about the deteriorating social values, which were a reflection of emerging city life: drunkeness, prostitution and crime”. (Makwende)
Makwende also suggests that Hadebe recorded fifteen songs with Eric Gallo, through Hugh Tracey’s AMR unit, in 1948 but I have found no examples of these. Tracks by Hadebe that I have located from this period seem to have been recorded for Trutone and I suspect that it is these that she may have been referring to.
The XU prefix on these Trutone discs is a hold-over from Llewelynn Hughes’ Better label (La Fayette Recording Studios) that was acquired by Arthur Harris around 1945. Harris was able to improve the quality of his recordings by hiring a professional sound engineer and building a new studio. Towards the end of the 1940s he changed the name of his business to Trutone. (Allingham / Meintjes)
Langa Shona and Sitwande Same (XU 89) — can be found in the ILAM archive and heard at SAMAP. Jonathan Ward's compilation, Opika Pende, also features a later track recorded by Hadebe around 1957: Yini Wena Funa (Quality, TJ 6020, matrix T 6647-1)
Finding additional background information on Hadebe has proven to be difficult but a paper by S.J. Mhlabi titled An African Troubadour: The Music of Josaya Hadebe has been cited in a number of publications. If anyone has a copy of this text please let us know.
JOSAYA HADEBE ON 78 RPM (c1947-1954)
(flatinternational, Electric Jive, FXEJ 18)
01) Batatazela (c1947, Trutone, XU 93, 2120-D)
02) Ma Sheet Bed (c1947, Trutone, XU 93, 2119-D)
03) Diana (c1948, Trutone, XU 125, 2928)
04) Elina (c1948, Trutone, XU 125, T 2937)
05) Cigarette (c1953, Trutone, XU 145, T 3429)
06) iDlulamithi (c1953, Trutone, XU 145, T 3435)
07) Hlanganisa (1954, Trutone, XU 222, T 3654)
08) Sithandwa Same (1954, Trutone, XU 222, T 3656)
09) iWatch Lika Baba Ligugile (1954, Trutone, XU 244, T 3666)
10) Wazi Bamab Emarabeni (1954, Trutone, XU 244, T 3671)