Musical trip to Zimbabwe townships

Edward Tsumele

Edward Tsumele

If you want to get a better understanding of the history of township music in Zimbabwe you do not need to travel further than a book called Zimbabwe Township Music.

Written by writer and documentary film maker Joyce Jenje- Makwenda, pictured, the book covers the period from 1930 to 2004.

Jenje-Makwenda was born in 1958 in Mbare Township, then called Harare, and grew up there. Her paternal grandfather was one of the early urban residents in Zimbabwe's oldest township.

"I am a third-generation township dweller and maybe that is why I became interested in documenting township music," Jenje-Makwenda says.

"I grew up listening to music. The fun part though is that I used to listen to hard rock and roll," she says.

"My father, David, used to tell me how he used to listen to real music like jazz and blues and how it was a civilised genre as opposed to what my generation listened to.

"He also used to tell me that his generation dressed well because of the music they listened to, unlike my peers who dressed up in hip-hop fashion," she says.

Her mother, Canaan Jenje, was a pioneer woman journalist of the late 1950s.

Her parents' narrations about the history of township music proved to be important in moulding her interest.

Jenje-Makwenda is the winner of a number of film and journalism awards.

For many years a lecturer at the Zimbabwe College of Music, she is now a masters student in musicology at the University of the Witwatersrand.

"My two bedrooms in Harare are like a library of music in terms of books and the documentaries that I have made," says Jenje-Makwenda.