Tuesday 11 August 2015

Alpheus Ramavhea - Ndo Shavha Tshikolo (1982)

Alpheus Ramavhea ranks alongside Eric Mukhese and the Takalani Band, Irene Mawela, Daniel Luambo, Colbert Mukwevho and Adziambei Band as one of the most influential Venda artists of all time. Today we share Ramavhea's 1982 album, Ndo Shavha Tshikolo, released on the Igagasi label and produced by Mavuthela guitarist Marks Mankwane.

By the late 1970s, Irene Mawela had become highly revered by Venda listeners and artists alike as the first artist to record mbaqanga songs in her mother tongue. (Record companies generally discouraged artists from recording songs in 'unsellable' languages, so the bulk of Irene's compositions were written in Zulu and Sotho for Gallo to release on 45rpm singles. Irene would then translate most of these into Venda for airplay on the then-Radio Venda, a unique move making her the first 'pop star' of the station when all other music broadcast was labelled 'traditional'.) Alpheus Ramavhea signed a recording contract with Gallo/Mavuthela in about 1979 and was immediately joined by Irene in the studio, who provided backing vocals and offered suggestions on how to make his sound more distinctive over potential competitors.

With the help of both Irene and guitarist and producer Marks Mankwane, Ramavhea's laidback vocals, groaning moans and acoustic picking were infused with the trademark mbaqanga sound. Ndo Shavha Tshikolo is Alpheus Ramavhea at his best, featuring twelve foot-stomping tracks. The vocal patterns here are just excellent and the backup is crisp. Particular highlights include "Vhuhadzi" (that is Irene doing the solo halfway through the song), "Muhadzinga", "Tshililo" and "Lufuno". Simply great music!


produced by Marks Mankwane
engineered by Keith Forsyth
Igagasi IAL 3029
Venda Vocal



  1. Nice sounds, thanks very much. I've been playing this a lot at work today.

  2. Nick,

    You should have posted a health warning with this one - one is in danger of collapsing with an ecstasy overdose!

    Where has Alpheus Ramavhea been all my life? He doesn't seem to have registered much of a legacy in the wider scheme of things which seems a travesty based on the evidence here.

    What an album, truly exceptional, loving every piece of everything on it, most especially those female backing vocals, which give the impression of being "slightly off" to the layman's ear. The run from "Vhuhadzi" to "Mufarekano" on Side 1 is blindingly brilliant.

    Classic business. Right up there with The Fall, Laurie Anderson, The Beat and The Violent Femmes as one of the album's of the year in 1982. (According to Rebel sensibilities.)



    p.s. I'm blogging and YouTubing about the album, hope you don't mind.

  3. Thank you very much for the review and comment. Mr Ramavhea still lives and continues to play and record albums


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