Filed under: Rhodesia
Originally, the Green Arrows formed in 1968 to back singers and perform covers. The group was founded by Manatsa brothers Zexie and Stanley, who began playing rabi (an urban style founded on traditional songs) and Kwela together as The Mambo Jazz Band along with several other musicians. They became The Green Arrows in 1968 when they replaced Fanyana Dube on rhythm guitar with Keddias, the youngest Manatsa brother. The lineup included Zexie Manatsa on bass and lead vocals, Stanley Manatsa on lead guitar, Givas Bernard on rhythm guitar and bass, Fulton Chikwati on rhythm guitar and Raphael Mboweni on drums. Supposedly, the band picked up their name shortly before jumping into a freshly painted Volkswagen bus to tour the country in support of various vocalists.
They started out playing ‘beer music’ in bars around Bulawayo. In fact, Stanley Manatsa’s guitar style was known as “hwahwa,” which is the Shona word for beer. But they went on to become the first group to record an full length album in Zimbabwe. Their song ‘Musango Mune Hanjaiwa’ still holds the record for the longest stay at number one in Zimbabwean history, with a reign of 17 weeks. They are also recognized for forcing record companies in the region to exhibit interest in the work of local artists, which would launch the careers of Thomas Mapfumo and Oliver Mtukudzi.
The Green Arrows, despite their energetic and apparently carefree sound were at the forefront in defining the ‘Chimurenga’ style of music. ‘Chimurenga’ is the Shona word for ‘struggle ‘. The term goes back at least to the first uprising against the British in the1890s when the Shona majority of Rhodesia rose up, only to be narrowly defeated.
Zexie Manatsa remained popular in the post-independence era, producing hits such as ‘Chivaraidze’ and ‘Tii Hobvu’. The band’s popularity declined as the 1990s approached. He eventually retired to pursue religious work. But, recently he took a break from his religious duties to produce a new album, Mutungamiri Wakanaka.
In 2006, Alula Records released 4 Track Recording Session, which collects most of the bands early recordings. The disc was compiled by Samy Ben Redjeb of Analog Africa who also wrote the twenty-two page band history and detailed discography. For some reason though, this song is not included on that disc.
Catalog number FYF 113 on Farayi Farayi of Rhodesia, released 1976.
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