Saturday, 26 May 2018

Oliver! appendices: Knowledge Kunenyathi & The Kasongo Band - Gejo (15 December 1991/23 February 1992)

My last reference to this track by the Zimbabwean seven-piece band came some 18 months ago when I was summarising Peel’s show from 23/2/92.  It was the second show I had heard him play it on and remained resolutely unavailable - perhaps because whenever I entered it in to search engines, I kept spelling vocalist, Knowledge Kunenyathi’s name wrong (my notes for the 15/12/91 show have it down as Knowledge Cunin Yate).  Peel initially credited the track solely to Kunenyathi, but by the 23/2/92 show, he attributed it to Kunenyathi and Kasongo Band, and so shall I.
The confusion was understandable given that Kunenyathi had managed to wrestle control of the band from its founder, Ketai Muchawya.  The Gejo album, of which this is the title track, was the group’s first one under his direction.

The story of The Kasongo Band is a fascinating and eye-opening tale of comradeship forged in civil war, AIDS related deaths (groupiedom in Africa being a far more dangerous thing than the Led Zeppelin-esque debauchery we associate it with in Europe), power-struggles over money and control, use of ju-ju to settle disputes (who needs lawyers when you can get a witchdoctor) and spiritual salvation.   It’s often so difficult to find much information about many of the African artists Peel played on his programme, so this article from the Zimbabwean website, The Patriot is gold-dust.

Video courtesy of  La Meillure Musique Africaine- uploaded to YouTube on 2 May 2018 (a reupload)

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