Monday 2 April 2012

The Roots of Shangaan Electro

If you travel to the sub-tropical town of Tzaneen in Limpopo province and spend time on the shopping strip you will bump into any number of street traders selling the latest music DVDs of local music stars. I was surprised and encouraged by the high proportion of local artists available compared to the likes of Jay Z. Rihanna, Madonna and other imported music celebrities. Music from this region caught the the attention of dance floors around the world through the Honest Jons compilation Shangaan Electro in 2010. Engaged by the hectic pace (150 beats per minute PLUS) and glorious dances moves Honest Jons has been issuing a number of remixed tunes from the original album.

Lizzy Mercier in Soweto for the Zulu Rock recordings (1983)

But at electricjive we're always interested in the precendents and the roots that come to inform the present. And so we take a step back to the late seventies to highlight what we understand to be the first compilation of what was previously called Shangaan disco. Some of the artists featured on this compilation would go on to get international exposure with Lizzy Mercier, Paul Simon and the whole world music phenomena of the mid eighties. ENJOY!

Nkulungwani Wa Nwalungu Vol 1 (Fast Move BFLP85002, 1977)
01 Sapota: M.D. Shirinda and the Gaza Sisters
02 Pfukani Rishile: Samson Mthombeni and the Gazankulu Girls
03 Ndzi Khumbula Vaka Hina: G.S. Chauke
04 Angelinah Nkata: Star Flying Gazankulu
05 Miyela N'whanyana: Samson Mthombeni and the Gazankulu Girls
06 Pfuka N'wavolo: M.D. Shirinda and the Gaza Sisters
07 He Mdjadji: M.D. Shirinda and the Gaza Sisters
08 Bombo Ratika: Samson Mthombeni and the Gazankulu Girls
09 Salani Va Chiawelo: James Makhubelo and the Nhlalukweni Sisters
10 Ha Kunene: M.D. Shirinda and the Gaza Sisters
11 Shinengana: Samson Mthombeni and the Gazankulu Girls
12 Xiniyengile: M.D. Shirinda and the Gaza Sisters



  1. WHAT A BEAUTIFUL RECORD. One thought I have here is that maybe you should get permission from these artists to give away their music as an album download. Some of them are reachable and could provide more context about this particular record. Also, I'm curious because I never thought this was the "Shangaan Disco" sound - didn't that come a few years later? Also, do you think this is the record Paul Simon heard that got him interested in the General??? Curious to hear more stories! I helped start the Shangaan Electro project and was managing it until very recently.

  2. Glad you enjoy it, and well done on the Shangaan Electro project. These labels don't make much sense at all. For a start Tsonga Disco/Electro is a more accurate term. As for the disco label only being relevant for the music of MD Shirinda or Thomas Chauke in the mid-eighties again I say no. Listen to the dance floor tracks on this album and you will hear the same sound popularised in the mid eighties as Shangaan Disco once the record company men had a hanger to hook the cross-over audience with. We would love to contact the artists so if you can assist please have them contact us. We have nothing to give away here except our love and respect for the music we share.

    1. dear matt - the DL for this awsome record has expired
      is there any way you could up load it again or send to my email ? greeting from owiny sigoma band member jesse hackett (

  3. Thanks a lot for sharing this. Awesome!
    Keep up the good vibes.

  4. thank you for this wonderful recording. the first comment about asking artists permission before posting a transfer of a 35 year old lp is the stupidest thing i've read in awhile. obviously this person has zero understanding of how culture is passed from person to person or generation to generation. hopefully honest jon's got someone less sheltered to manage the shangaan electro project. i do hope you can continue this divine work that in preserving incredibly rare & forgotten music

  5. Simply Beautiful, i LOVE it ! Thanks

  6. God I thirst to own this record. It's simply amazing. Does anyone know of a good resource where I could purchase this stuff? Particularly the work of General M.D. Shirinda And The Gaza Sisters.

  7. Paul, I bought a CV by MD Shirinda and the Gaza Sisters (note that he dropped the title of General for it) called I think Nghena Shirinda, a few years ago at a major music store in Cape Town. I can't remember for the moment whether it was Musica or Look & Listen or the bg CD shop at the Waterfront, but anyway, I'm sure one of the major chains can order it for you. Don't you just love "I know what I know" on Graceland, on which MD Shirinda and the Gaza Sisters collaborated with Paul Simon? It's my favourite song on the album by far. This style of music is my favourite to dance to! If I hear that guitar sound over the radio, I can't sit still.

  8. Sorry, I meant a CD by MD shirinda of course!

  9. Thank you very much for mentionning the wonderful Lizzy Mercier Descloux, much missed french artist. It was through her LP that I first discovered south african music and mbqanga in particular. I have been listening this great music ever since. Congratulations for you great site.

  10. Please could you reload this album?! The links don't work anymore...

  11. XiTsonga Electro is so HUGE, JUMBO.
    A party amongst the Tsonga people is not complete without this music. If you go to the townships, deep in Limpopo you'll be surprised how big this music is.

  12. Replies
    1. The woman on the far left of the album, Nkulungwani wa N'walungu, is my mother. I wish I could get the cover. Risimati Chabalala.


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