Tribute to Cde Chinx

HARARE - I first met Dick Chingaira in 1985. I was eighteen. Benny Miller and Jane Bartlett had a record company called One World Records and Cde. Chinx and the Barrel Of Peace was the first artist that they recorded.

Benny Miller had allowed me to come round to the One World recording studio and hang out whenever I liked.

In those days, it was just a Fostex four track cassette recorder which he was using, along with some early Roland synthesisers and drum machines - which were the things I was really interested in. These defined the sound of the early Chinx recordings. There was no bass player, no guitar. In fact, the sound of the music itself was quite revolutionary for the time, given that it was made entirely with electronic instruments.

Magamba Ose and Marching Together were the first two songs which Chinx released as a single under the One World label. He recorded Zvikomborero Kusimba in 1986 and it was during this recording process that Benny asked me to play some keyboards on the song.

Chinx asked me if I would like to be in the video and of course, I agreed!

We went to ZBC where it was filmed in one of the studios - Chinx was already working there as a technician.

There was much talk about reconciliation in those days, so the theme of the video was very much in that vein.

People still make jokes about the way I danced.

We recorded Nerudo after that, and it was during this time that I met Andy Brown and Don Gumbo who, together with Bryan Paul, recorded the first single 'Thandiwe' under the name Ilanga, also as part of the One World Records stable of artists.

It was during this period that we decided to put a band together. We got into a room and wrote a whole lot of songs. Munya Brown came to play drums.

We went out as a double act, playing both Chinx and Ilanga songs.

The thing I loved about Chinx was his sense of humour and the way he put words together when he was singing. ‘The rattling sound of rumour’ and ‘the writing signal of humour…updating freedom, the shining word of our time’ are fine examples.

As a young white guy, fresh out of school, I was introduced to a whole new world, socially and musically.

We toured the whole country, playing everywhere from stadiums to beerhalls and taverns. And when we performed, it was for several hours at a time.

I remember being at a pungwe at Sakubva Stadium. Ten thousand people and I was the only white guy. I was standing with Chinx and some guy came up and said, “Ah, it’s David Livingstone!”. We ended up rolling around on the ground laughing so much.

A typical stadium show those days would have had a line up, with all the heavy-weights, that ran something like this: Runn Family, Zig Zag Band, Oliver Mtukudzi, The Muddy Face Band, Robson Banda, Zexie Manatsa, Leonard Dembo, Thomas Mapfumo etc.

Thanks to Chinx, I met so many musicians along the way, and my love of Zimbabwean music grew with it. Those formative years shaped what was to come. For that, I owe him an eternal debt of gratitude.

(Keith Farquharson is a South Africa-based award-winning sound engineer and musician who has mastered and mixed music for many top Zimbabwean artistes.)

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