'Making music for me is like
drawing and painting a
picture on canvas, sometimes
abstract, but understood'
Victor Kunonga’s music is not easy to pin down to a particular ‘style’. Listeners may associate Victor with a chimurenga style, but ‘different’. Yet Victor’s music is not chimurenga, really. It follows its own path.
The main characteristic of his music derives from cross-cutting mbira patterns employed on two lead guitars, or guitar and mbira, with interwoven bass and drum lines. He departs from typical chimurenga patterns to create a hybrid of sounds, with clever and unexpected use of spaces and times signatures, and complex poly-rhythms through the interlocking guitars.
In a broader and historic music sense Victor’s real legacy is closer to the legendary Zimbabwean guitar bands of the 1970s and 80s, and his guitar sound and style, while chimurenga-patterned in parts, owes much to this generation who performed before him.Lyrically, Victor Kunonga’s social commentary is poetic and profound, but accessible, painting a poignant vocal picture of what he observes as he touches the pulse of society, charting its trajectory.
Victor has taken mbira-derived and other forms of Zimbabwe’s guitar culture to totally new and unexpected destinations and created a deep and rich tapestry, a soundscape of truly Zimbabwean sounds rooted in the rocks and trees that surround us. He has thus created a unique blend of musical odyssey describable not by genre but identifiable by just two words- Victor Kunonga.
Victor Kunonga formed the group “PEACE” in 2004. The name was inspired by one of the songs on the album,
“Such is Life” that advocates for peace in the world. Watching the band perform, one gets the sense that
Victor Kunonga and Peace have a surreal inimitable power with the ability to play music that touches the soul.
The music is fortified by a very percussive drum set in which the Calabash normally played by hand in some
parts of Africa, is used as the kick drum, a pioneering idea which has shaped the band’s outlook as well as
the music. Whilst the core band comprises a quartet, the full group can expand to include a second guitar, a
percussionist and a vocalist.
The first album, “Such is Life” released in 2004 includes tracks such as Maidarirei, a song
touching on child abuse. The Maidarirei video is a regular feature on the music Channel O.
The album attracted wide attention from the public and organisations due to its lyrical content and refreshingly different beat.
The second album “Uyo” features some celebrated Zimbabwean and South African musicians. Legendary guitarist Louis Mhlanga had a hand in the recording and mixing of the album and also features on some of the tracks. South African percussionist Basi Mahlasela and renowned Zimbabwean drummer Sam Mataure also lent a hand to this award winning album.
My most valued reward is playing music from a place “deep within”, that wins hearts, which naturally becomes my award
The masterful story teller and lyricist unleashed his third album “Handinete” (I will persevere) in 2010. Kunonga’s lyrics reflect the voices of the voiceless in contemporary Zimbabwe, emerging
from crisis and social inequity. His songs and their popularity derive from a profound sense of
dignity and social awareness, songs that address and confront issues of poverty, dispossession, and the rights and needs of ordinary people.