The Bhundu Boys are a Zimbabwean band that played a mixture of chimurenga music with American rock and roll, disco and pop influences. Their style became known as jit, and is quite popular across Africa, with some international success.
Bhundu was the name given to the young boys who used to aid resistance fighters in the 1970s war against the white minority government. Lead singer Biggie Tembo was a Bhundu boy.
The Bhundu Boys reached the top of the Zimbabwean music scene, with four number one hits (“Baba Munini Francis”, “Wenhamo Haaneti”, “Hastisitose”, and “Ndimboze”) between 1981 and 1984. They attracted the attention of Owen Elias and his colleague Gordon Muir, a Scottish concert promoter , musician Champion Doug Veitch, who released an EP by the band in the UK in 1985. This attracted the attention of DJ’s John Peel and Andy Kershaw who tirelessly promoted the band. Their album Shabini was released in 1986 and was one of the major independent sellers of the year, and one of Peel’s all time favourite albums.
After touring the UK for a year, the band appeared to be on the brink of a major commercial breakthrough. They were feted by Eric Clapton and Elvis Costello and Madonna asked them to be her support act at Wembley Stadium where they played to 240,000 people over three nights.
The Bhundu Boys signed to Warner Brothers International, but 1987’s Robin Millar produced True Jit was unfavourably received and the band began to fall apart. Leader Biggie Tembo was asked to leave the band in 1990. The band continued in the 1990s but David Mankaba, his replacement Shepherd Munyama, and Shakespeare Kangwena, all died of AIDS. Biggie Tembo hanged himself in 1995 after a spell in psychiatric hospital.