Edward Khuzwayo: Zambia’s towering music promoter

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IT is now three years and two days since the demise of Zambia’s most accomplished music promoter Edward Khuzwayo whose footmarks will never fade from this country’s entertainment platform.

The Zambian music industry could not have been what it is today without the role played by Khuzwayo.

Almost all Zambian musicians, especially those of the 1970 through to the late 80s, are highly indebted to this visionary promoter.

It was actually Khuzwayo who brought to the fore Zambia’s best music talent in the likes of Rikki Ililonga, Keith Mlevhu, Emmanuel Mulemena, Paul Ngozi and bands such as Five Revolutions, The Great Witch, Tinkles, Blackfoot, The Peace and others too numerous to mention.

He also discovered musicians like Spokes Chola, Laban Kalunga and the Serenje Kalindula band, among others.

Khuzwayo’s love for Zambian music culminated in the establishment of the Zambia music Parlour Empire which had thriving outlets on Lusaka’s Nkwazi Road, Buteko Avenue in Ndola, which was presumably the head office, and Kitwe’s Matuka Avenue.

Billy Nyati, who was his producer and was with Khuzwayo at the time of his death, still believes that the highly gifted promoter was unique and full of new ideas.

“Khuzwayo was one man who had vision and knew what he was doing. He worked closely with all local musicians whom he paid handsomely. He mixed well with everybody and I will personally miss him. There is no one I will ever enjoy working with other than Khuzwayo.”

these were Nyati’s words shortly after Khuzwayo’s demise.

Veteran musician, Rikki Ililonga who visited him during his illness said Khuzwayos’ death was really a great loss to the local music industry.

“It is a great loss to the music fraternity. The man was a great producer the Zambian music industry has ever had, it is terrible to lose him at this time of need,” he moaned.

Former Great Witch front man Jaggari Chanda said: “This man helped us (Witch) to set up base at the time we had no manager after we parted company with our former manager Philip Musonda. He was a great man who helped to shape the Zambian music industry.”

Teal Record Company former general manager Faisal Nanavat said he was at a loss because there woul never be another man who would do what Khuzwayo had done for the local music industry during his life.

“The Zambian music industry cannot be the same without the mention of Khuzwayo. It is sad to lose him because he helped to develop the Zambian music industry,” Nanavat said.

All these words which were spoken by prominent musicians and the general populace at the time of his death, reveals how much Khuzwayo would be deeply missed.

At the time of his demise in 2009 at the age of 73, there was still no local promoter who had filled the void he left and there will still be no one now or in the near future who will match Khuzwayo’s music promotion prowess.

Born Edward Godfrey Khuzwayo on March 3, 1936 in Southern Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe, he attended his early education at St. Peter’s before he went to Gokomera secondary school in the early 1940s.

He later joined the Southern Rhodesia Railways as a train guard before he was transferred to Northern Rhodesia (Zambia) on promotion as train conductor in 1961 and was based in Ndola.

But in 1965, he resigned to go into private business and set up his first entity, the Independence Barber shop in a building now housing Dolphin Night club on the corner of Madala and President Avenue north.

He also incorporated record sales mainly of rumba music from Congo, South Africa’s Mbaka’nga and a bit from East Africa.

In his quest to expand, Khuzwayo moved his premises to Buteko Avenue in the town centre in 1973 and included music promotion.

This is what paved the way for the establishment of the Zambia Music Parlour Limited (ZMPL), a company that lived up to its expectations.

He met Billy Nyati who was then working for Leopold Walford in Kitwe as a shipping clerk and lured him to become his accounts clerk and producer.

“Khuzwayo approached me while I was working in Kitwe so that I could become his accounts clerk and I agreed to go to Ndola and work with him. The music industry was booming then and things were looking up,” Nyati recalls.

In 1974, Khuzwayo went to Nairobi, Kenya, where he met Zambia’s legendary musicians Nashil Pitchen Kazembe and Benson Simbeye as well as former Zambian music exports to that country, the Mosi Oa Tunya (MOT).

Khuzwayo signed contracts with them and produced for Pitchen the hit song A Phiri Ana Bwera as well as Simbeye’s Uwambeyele Ulukusu Mumpanga (Nshakamulabe) before coming up with the Mot’s album, Wings of Africa in the same year.

Khuzwayo was also behind Paul Ngozi’s debut single, I have been Looking for You flip sided by We were not told in 1976.

He later discovered former Zambian Kalindula king Spokes Chola who was then based at a council tavern in Mansa, which was just next to Luka Mumba guest house and produced Chikashana wa Menso.

Zambia Music parlour promoted a total of 24 bands and individual musicians under Khuzwayo.

In 1979, he promoted a successful tour of the once famed South African ensemble, Izi ntombi Zesi Manje Manje when he visited the apartheid country.

The band then managed by Hamilton Nzimande toured the line of rail from Livingstone to Chililabombwe in the same year.

Nyati described that tour as fantastic and highly successful.

But in the late 1980s, the Zambian music scene took a new turn with the industry experiencing the problem of piracy which was relatively new in the sector and this greatly affected the ZMPL business.

“We were badly hit by piracy and we did not realise how damaging it was until very late. Infact, the whole East Africa was flooded by our music without us knowing. It was a big blow to us,” Nyati explained.

And on the other hand, Teal Record Company which was situated at where Voyagers currently is on Arusha Street, also closed due to the problem of foreign exchange coupled with piracy.

At the same time, people changed from record players to radio cassettes which promoted compact cassette music.

This forced Khuzwayo to retreat to Zimbabwe where he set up similar facilities but this too did not work well as the same problem of piracy haunted him.

In November 2009, he travelled to Zambia to attend a wedding for his first born daughter but unfortunately, his second born daughter who was on the line up died suddenly.

This somehow had a telling effect on the hypertensive Khuzwayo and was immediately hospitalised in Ndola Central Hospital where a few days later, on the Sunday night of December 20, the curtain closed on him and was no more.

Up to now, musicians still pray that another Khuzwayo incarnate should surface to rescue the local music industry and his mission was that of a brave warrior.