The Sunday News
Ngqwele Dube, Sunday Life Correspondent
GROWING up in Bulawayo’s high density suburbs in the late eighties to early nineties, it was impossible for one to escape the Dalom Music sound that had invaded the city and was taking a foothold on the music scene at the time.
The western suburbs had a captivating, unique night life that had for long and continues even today to be dominated by music from South Africa with the Soul Brothers being one of the dominating forces since their emergence in the late 70s.
Staying in Njube, which did not escape the pervasive shebeen culture that took root in Bulawayo, I was greatly exposed to Dalom Music from a tender age. The exposure was made more intense by my brother, David Kumbula’s undying love for Splash; the group fronted by the late South African muso, Dan Tshanda which would see him practice his art lessons from Milton High on our home’s stoep with various Dalom inscriptions.
As Tshanda’s popularity grew in shebeens it was not long before his music began taking over throughout the city, albums from his Dalom Music stable became a must have and no party or drinking gathering would be complete without a song from any of the Dalom artistes.
While Tshanda passed away a fortnight ago following heart failure, what certainly will leave forever are the memories Dalom songs would always trigger. He was laid to rest in Johannesburg yesterday.
For most people in Bulawayo, a Dalom stable song goes with its own memory, whether it is that time when you were raided at a shebeen and you spent your first ever night in police cells or that day when you rushed to one of the bedrooms at a shebeen and quickly removed your shoes and pretended to be dead asleep when your heard the police Santana vehicle arriving for a raid or maybe when you left one shebeen in Emakhandeni because it had become boring and decided to go to a more entertaining one in Magwegwe North only for police close it down before you even down you first pint, after having bought a “box” as buying the 12-case of pints was then a sign of being monied.
It could be that day when drunk your wits out and woke up in the wee hours of the night to find yourself lying by the hedge, bitten by mosquitoes or when the music was so good you could not resist spending that grocery money your wife was waiting for at home, ending up buying beer for everyone as the vibe was just awesome or when you took your friend for a weekend drinking spree after pay day, shebeen-hoping from Friday till Sunday only to wake up on Monday morning asking for bus fare to go to work from your friend.
For some it could be that time they had turned Pub La Gondola into their “lounge” only going home to sleep and that one Splash live show that has been left inscribed in your mind as the Dalom crew blew you away with their blew you away with their act, the memories are endless and could fill thousands of pages.
After changing his first act’s name from Flying Squad to Splash in 1986, success seemed to stalk Tshanda, whose ambitious streak saw him setting up a music stable, not content with just having a single band churning out his own unique rhythm he had created.
Along came the Dalom Kids, Patricia Majalisa, By4, Peacock, Ndistheni, Matshikos, the late Don B, late Thabile Mazolwane, Montana, Bongile and Hexa as an ambitious Tshanda continued building a music empire that would crunch out several hits year in year out keeping revellers on the dance floor.
In 2003 when Tshanda seemed to be focusing more on other acts, he came with a bang, releasing the album Sethlopha that took his fans by storm highlighting his endurance and great music ability that became his hallmark over the years.
It was inevitable that he would hold shows in the city and having mastered the business side of music Tshanda would bring in the complete Dalom Music stable, his own instruments and sound system ensuring an enthralling and exhilarating experience for revellers.
Despite having created an original beat that could stand as a genre on its own, Tshanda insistence at being the only main producer for Dalom Music saw him miss an opportunity to go down in history as having created a sub-genre that would stand on its own, outlive him and last beyond this generation.
With Tshanda gone, many others are likely to seek to continue his legacy by producing beats similar to those he left behind but it is unlikely any will ever reach close to what the maestro came up with.
Dan could have groomed other producers but maybe a need to keep a stranglehold on the income side of music saw him brooding over the stable and keeping the important positions for himself.
In music circles, differences sharing income has led to splits and it was no different with the Dalom music stable where several musicians including the affable Majalisa dumped Tshanda yet the move did not pay dividends for neither and a whittled line-up at live shows proved disastrous for local music promoters as fans did not find them appealing.
Having been assigned to the Arts Beat at Chronicle in 2004, it was always a business and leisure affair for me to attend Tshanda’s shows for work while being enthralled by the Dalom crew.
A well choreographed act and well programmed event would see local acts take to the stage before Dalom Kids who would make way for Peacock with Patricia Majalisa then invading the stage followed by Matshikos and then Dan would make his way to the stage around 2AM making a grand entrance from back stage, shirtless, almost staggering into the stage sending fans into delirium.
I had several interactions with Tshanda and his open nature saw us connecting and he would always invite me for a chat and drink outside the working hours, being a man who loved his whiskey.
Tshanda would certainly make time for a chat whenever he was around and colleagues such as Ricky Zililo, Lovemore Dube and Thandazani Zimbwa would attest to his congenial nature. During my sojourns in South Africa he also opened up his home inviting, me, the late Emmanuel Chuma and Nkosana Sibanda to his residence in Bryanston, Sandton, showing us his studio and gold discs for a number of albums which attested to his huge following in South Africa.