South Africa Amagugu

Album’s Overview
#1 amagugu-ubhekuzulu.jpg 1974 [12, 32:11] Amagugu - Ubhek’uZulu (Skyline Jazz SK-80162) studio • new music 6.60 “Good” Africana
#2 amagugu-with-the-intuthuko-brothers-the-pride-of-africa.jpg 1976 [12, 32:27] Amagugu with The Intuthuko Brothers - The Pride Of Africa (Kaya Lami KYL-2003) studio collaboration • new music compilation 7.05 “Really good” Africana
#3 amagugu-ingabe-likuphi-tphutha.jpg 1981 [12, 37:38] Amagugu - Ingabe Likuphi Tphutha (Chocolate City CNH-1013) studio • new music
date.png 09-Jan-2014
notes.png The end. Band split 1987. If there are any further Amagugu LP’s than these three then I can’t find them!


In 1967, Sannah Mnguni, her sister Francina "Thopi" Mnguni and Thoko Khumalo were three of the four founding members of Izintombi Zesi Manje Manje, an ensemble who had formed for the Gramophone Record Company (GRC), a subsidiary of CBS. Izintombi Zesi Manje Manje were one of the many ensembles set up in direct competition to Rupert Bopape’s Mahotella Queens over at Gallo. The production company at GRC was named Isibaya Esikhulu, and was intent on challenging the crown held by Gallo’s Mavuthela Music. Isibaya’s in house guitarist Hansford Mthembu married singer Thopi Mnguni.

In 1972, Mthembu and Mnguni left Hamilton Nzimande’s stable and formed a new mbaqanga frontline, Amagugu Esimanjemanje (not to be confused with the traditional Zulu group Amagugu Akwazulu), in which Hansford was to be the creative musical force. Following Thopi and Hansford were two of the original Izintombi Zesi Manje Manje girls - lead vocalist Sannah (Thopi’s sister) and harmony singer Thoko. The new group were under the management of Natalian Titus Masikane, a man with an ear for talent. In 1974, it was Titus who introduced The Soul Brothers (then Young Brothers) to his friend, Moses Dlamini, who was the A & R man at the Gramophone Record Company. Titus was too busy with Amagugu at this time – he thought them “Africa’s greatest vocal group”! Amagugu were bolstered with the addition of their own “Mahlathini” in the form of distinctive groaner Harry Nhlapo. Kali Monare is the drummer who could play jazz, rock and mbaqanga styles with equal aplomb.

In 1974, they released their first LP, “Ubhek’uZulu”, which appeared on Skyline Jazz, a subsidiary label of South African EMI. A second LP backed by The Intuthuko Brothers was issued on another EMI subsidiary, Kaya Lami, in 1976. As with many of these ensembles, group members would come and go over the years. Circa 1980, Harry Nhlapo and Jotham Maqhude Nkosi left Amagugu to join Abafana Baseqhudeni at Mavuthela. I cannot find another LP by the group until 1981, when “Ingabe Likuphi Tphutha”, produced by T. Tiba, was released on the WEA imprint Chocolate City label (CNH-1013). In “Sound of Africa!: Making Music Zulu in a South African Studio” by Louise Meintjes, Amagugu member Janet Dudu Dlamini recalls that the band split in 1987 and that, from there, she went on to join Izintombi Zesimanjemanje in the same year. In South Africa, what goes around comes around!

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