Jonah Moyo (vocals, lead guitar. B: 1956)
Johnsayi Machinya (vocals)
Chengetai Kandimi (vocals)
Innocent Biti (rhythm guitar)
Robson Banda (bass)
Patrick Kabanda (drums)
Christopher Ncube (brass)
Kudzi Mashereni (brass)
Mashi Mashereni (vocals)
Jonah Moyo and Devera Ngwena are undoubtedly Zimbabwe's
leading rhumba act. As pionneers of mbira-influenced rhumba, known as rhumbira, Moyo and his band fused Congolese sounds with traditional rhythms. Jonah started off learning to play the banjo in order to meet girls, but he soon found that his talent amounted to much more than that! Leaving school to work in the city, Moyo became known in KweKwe as an excellent guitarist. In 1978 Jonah joined the Gaths Mine Welfare Band with former Jairos Jiri guitarist Innocent Biti, Robson Banda (for two years, at least), and Biggie Phiri. They recorded privately with Gramma Records and became Devera Ngwena.
The group, whose name translates to "follow the crocodile", was prolific during the 1980's, recording almost two albums per year. They regularly sold more than 50 000 copies, with Ruva Remoyo Wangu topping with sales of 120 000. Unfortunately, the original Devera Ngwena split in 1985. Jonah Moyo went on to form a new version of Devera Ngwena (featuring his brother), leading to the hits Taxi Driver and Ndatambura Newe and their international release Follow The Crocodile. In 1987 they toured England, Scotland, and Holland to great success - playing the Glastonbury Festival and performing before an audience of 10 000 in Holland, in a concert in which they were the only act! The original Devera Ngwena reunited in 2000 in an attempt to recreate their old sound. Jonah released his latest album, Mudhara Jonso, in Sept 2003.
Despite their status as Zimbabwe's rhumba kings, Devera Ngwena albums are rarely seen outside of Zimbabwe. The little material available is usually expensive and in LP format. Despite the fact that Moyo has sold hundreds of thousands of records in South Africa, he has received little of the money he is due. Still, Jonah Moyo and Devera Ngwena were one of the first Zimbabwean acts to tour internationally, and have maintained their popularity at home for more than two decades. Moyo labels his music as "tsavatsava."