Bongani Ndlovu, Showbiz Correspondent
A PACKED Bulawayo Theatre reverberated in song and dance on Saturday night as the third edition of the Rise Up Chothoza Mfana Imbube Expo (RUCMIE) was held showing that the genre is very much alive.
There were eight Imbube (acapella) groups that had converged at the venue to give their best offering to an appreciative crowd.
Globetrotting Black Umfolosi, perhaps the most renowned Imbube group, were joined on stage by Sunduza, Great Stars, Ijongosi, Ukukhanya Kwezwe, Indonsakusa the Morning Star, Man of Influence, Ibutho likaKristu and Amaqhawe Enkosi.
The show was much anticipated by many people who love and follow the Imbube genre and the groups on the night gave them what they wanted, purely melodic and harmonic music.
Mixing traditional dances such as Isitshikitsha and Amabhiza during their performances, the night belonged to the crowd as they took turns to exhibit their dancing prowess on stage and where they were seated. The crowd – a blend of young and old – even had some cash to give each group on stage as they performed.
This was because every group brought their A game to the show, save for Pumula-based Sunduza whose performance looked unrehearsed and unco-ordinated at times.
Besides that, the night went on well without any glitches with the oldest Imbube group, Black Umfolosi, leading from the front as they were given the first slot during the performances. They laid the foundation and set the tone for the night. With each group that entered the fray, the carnival atmosphere heated up. Great Stars, Ijongosi, Ukukhanya Kwezwe, Man of Influence, Ibutho likaKristu and Amaqhawe Enkosi were masters of the mic and were a marvel to watch.
The performances were on average 15 minutes long because of the sheer number of groups and the time constraints at the show. But this worked in favour of fans as they got the very best in Imbube music. Intervals were at most five minutes long.
Each song they sang had a message, either of love, heartbreak or friendly advice, which is a hallmark of Imbube music and why it is so popular. Closing off the show was Indosakusa The Morning Star who sang brilliantly and entertained people wonderfully but at the end they left fans hanging. Fans wanted to see them perform the song Avulekile Amazulu. Try as they did to say they were constrained by time, people voiced their displeasure. The group ended up buckling under the pressure and singing the song, leaving fans happy.
Even some in the crowd suggested that the Imbube show should be done at least twice a year as they were starved.
The appreciation shown to the groups by the crowd showed that there is a serious love of Imbube music. The attendance was one of the highest at the Bulawayo Theatre this year for a music show, where some perform for a paltry crowd.
Imbube music has a huge following in the city and beyond and the chairperson of RUCMIE, Oscar Siziba, said their target was to take the genre around the country, region and the wider world.