The wait is over! After a 13 year hiatus from the studio, Bongo Maffin has reconstituted the music institution that gave South Africa memorable soundtracks at the most pivotal periods. Bongo Maffin became one of the most pre-eminent sounds of the post–apartheid era with smash hits That’Isghubu, Way Kungakahona and Kura Uone.
Stoan, Thandiswa, Jahseed and Speedy have reformed to become the formidable quartet that dished out both timeless club-bangers and conscious soul-stirring ballads.
They are back to claim their rightful place at the top of the charts with Harare. Rooted in the Afrobeat/soul influences, it’s an invigorating track which is as much about the Zimbabwean capital city as it is about one’s state of mind. The band interprets Harare from its Shona origins which means ha ba robale (in Setswana) or “They Don’t Sleep” in English.
The last time Speedy was in studio with Bonga Maffin was in 2000. A few isolated corporate and public shows in 2014 re-affirmed that the chemistry between the four was more powerful than ever, so Speedy, ever-persistent, continued to plant the seed to the group to reunite formally and record new material. ‘I was the nagging one everyone record again. It was all about timing and here we are. We had a concept to have a record called Harare and this is the version we like. DJ Clap and Pax Africa gave us the beat, bassline and guitar and we added the rest.’ Backed by the absolute best musicians on the continent, the foursome have a live show unlike any other and an anthology of music spanning almost 25 years!!
‘This is long overdue. The fans have been demanding it for years and years,’ remarks Stoan.’As artists we had different psychological approaches to Harare. The natives coming from the countryside were amazed by this city that doesn’t sleep with the lights constantly on. But also, this is a metaphor for the life of an artist. It has an Afro-futuristic vibe as we reconnect our roots and the future.’
Thandiswa says they quickly found their bearings when they got in studio. ‘This has been a long friendship and getting back together was easy. We did what we used to do in the old Kalawa studios. The song is about our seamless engagement with other African countries, especially Zimbabwe because that’s where Jahseed is from. It’s a reminder that these borders were made to seprate us. Ours is a unifying message. African cities don’t sleep.’
Jahseed says Harare holds a special place as the most central city in SADC, in many ways it’s the belly button of the region. ‘This single is like nothing out there. Its title alone will spark a thought in a Setswana speaker to want to find out what the connection is between Setswana and Shona. We are honored to continue telling our stories in the way our ancestors did, passing on traditions through the oral medium. We are lucky to still be here, it’s a blessing, so many soldiers are already gone.’
The song is released as a joint venture between Bongo Music and Kalawa Jazmee and under exclusive license with Universal Music.
The video for Harare is fittingly filmed in Harare with a few scenes recorded in Johannesburg.
Stream / download the song on all digital platforms here
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