True Love: Legendary Busi Ncube to turn back the time in Bulawayo
Busi Ncube will perform in Bulawayo on the 11th of June 2023 at The place. She was 23 in 1986 when “True Love” the monster hit, she sang lead on, came out. She turns 60 this year.
4 filmmakers and a businessman were riding together in a Mercedes Benz. The song “True Love’ suddenly came on. One of the young film-makers was so impressed he asked which country this song was from. His colleagues laughed at him so hard it was almost embarrassing. He got away with the excuse: “I don’t really follow local music.”
Generations have been born since 1986 who simply have no idea who these people were: Comrade Chinx, Andy Brown, Busi Ncube, Keith Farquharson, Don Gumbo, Gibson Batishta, Adam Chisvo, Munya Brown, Gibson Nyoni, and Virgillio Ignacia.
8 out 10 are deceased. Just 2 remain: Keith Farquharson (the youngest) and Busi Ncube. These, at one time or another where talented members of the fusion group Ilanga with more than one lead vocalist.
Ncube was the only female member of Ilanga. Her song, “True Love” immortalised her voice with a positive message. While Keith’s youthfulness stood out, Busi’s voice sounded even younger. She turns 60 next month.
Comrade Chinx spoke to Masceline Bondamakara on ZTV. He said (about Ilanga): “Ne Ilanga takazoona tave mukati kuti (it became apparent that with Ilanga) we had really gathered talented guys. Gramma and ZMC (leading recording companies) were moving away from choirs.
“We had so much emotional baggage and anger directed towards the Rhodesia regime. I asked Benny Millar and his partners from his studios, where I was recording, for an instrumentalist. I would hum a song and they interpreted it on a keyboard and we produced “Marching together.”
“Our anger was thawing. Don and Andy of Ilanga were also doing their songs in Ndebele as a duo. I discovered Ben’s friend, the young Keith, and he would interpret my songs on keyboard and we produced our own record same time as Ilanga.
“Don on bass and Andy on lead, I on the lead vocals. My background was my vocals during the war. Charles Chimambo said: ‘Let’s go for the band.’” That’s how Chinx and his songs became part of Ilanga.
“Everything we did with Ilanga was memorable,” he reminisced.
Keith Farquharson said: “We went through a couple of drummers like Munya Brown, Gibson Nyoni, Charles Mangena. Rodger Mambo. When Andy left Rodger became the guitar player. Busi Ncube was still there. When Busi joined, on the strength of “True love” she could do Lead vocals on a bunch of songs.
“In fact we had 3 lead vocalists with Andy. Virgilio Ignacio was a Mozambican keyboard player. He had a different style than I did. It was a very enriching time for me to play with some different styles.”
Don Gumbo the band leader was also a great vocalist.
They performed all over Zimbabwe and their videos were played on ZTV.
In another 1980s recording Andy Brown said: “Our audience is from the little boy to the old man, domestic to industrial work, university students, it’s really everybody from different parts of society. We felt that we needed to take Zimbabwean music to a higher level.
“So we started to play around with different rythms of Southern Africa, as such, including Zimbabwean. That’s why we came up with this sound that we call hybrid and it’s happening man.” Andy Brown.
“True Love” made memories. A bouncing Busi Ncube’s innocent vocals yearning for ‘True Love’ had people repeating: “No more fake love I want true love baby.” Or some thought it was: “No more geisha ndoda chimugondiya” (No more expensive soap just get me the cheap washing soap). Or: “No more veggie baba vatenge nyama.” (No more veggies daddy just bought us some meat.” The point is one didn’t need to understand English to understand this timeless piece. It meant many things to many people. The parodies were in themselves high praise.
If all the other Ilanga songs were a feature of the time, post-independence, and its mindset, “True Love” truly stood the test of time. It opened with Andy Brown’s guitar, Keith’s keyboards and Don Gumbo’s Bassline.
The lyrics resonated with the innocence of 23 year old Busi in her first song for the group. This was the peak of Ilanga, her second group. She moved around freely with graceful dance moves. She could also back the male lead vocalists on their own songs.
Busi poke to Enthusemag in 2020 and answered the question: “Now looking back over 30 years, did you think the song’s lifespan would be so long and why do you think is its undying power? Like what makes a classic song?”
Busi responded: “When we were recording the song in the studio, a lot of people that dropped by during True Love’s recording talked about how big of an impact the song was going to make, but I just thought it was the excitement.
“At the time, I believed in the song of course. I figured it would do fairly well. When I look back I realise that I was proven otherwise! Thankfully, it’s still here, a classic song makes its resonance. The message still relevant, and now more than ever as I see dating is more difficult for this generation.”
New words have been formed to describe the search for True love, now a pandemic. pandemic. “Mjolo” is one. In South Africa even has a punchline: “Everybody knows Mjolo is an extreme sport.”
Busi Ncube, will perform in Bulawayo in June on the 11th. Can she pull it off without the other 9? That’s because due to scheduling issue Keith won’t make it, although the plan was for him to come. The others have died. “True love” and Busi Ncube have precedence.
A remix of the song featuring Busi Ncube appeared on NAMA TV during the Covid lockdowns. It featured Tammy Moyo’s version of “Rudo Moto” featuring Ex-Q (Original by Marshall Munhumumwe & Four brothers).
It has gathered 152,741 views. It was released on 27 Mar 2021. It was one of the highlights of the lockdown years.
Another performance at HIFA in 2014 brought the house down with Edith We Utonga on bass guitar and backing vocals. So the song itself is not going anywhere. It just depends on the musicians.
Edith was faithful to Don Gumbo’s bassline. So it has been done before. For Busi Ncube turning 60 is a time for reflection and remembering friends now gone and yearning for “True Love” with ever changing crowds.