Harari, a blend of cultures. The name taken from the township near Salisbury, the people taken from the township near Johannesburg, the music taken from the heart of Africa. These, together with an unique brand of funk/rock, form the magic sound of Harari.
what a nice surprise it was to find these two albums by Harari. I had no idea that this band had entered the American Disco Charts in the 70’s. That single ‘Party’ is on the album ‘Heatwave’ (Gallo 1980) and ‘Home Brew’ is of later date; 1982 (Gallo). A song like ‘Prayin for the people’ made me think of ‘Going Back To My Roots’ by Lamont Dozier. Other similarities are groups like Rufus & Chaka and Jazz, Funk and Rock…done African style. Both albums give a good impression of the music of Sipho Mabuse and his group Harari at their most enlightened time.
leader Sipho Mabuse, flute, drums, timbales, vocals, piano
Harari dominated the music scene of the 1970s in South Africa, even being invited to perform in the US with Hugh Masekela in 1978. During this tour, the band’s leader Selby Ntuli died, leaving Sipho as the new leader. This eclectic ensemble was impossible to categorise; mixing funk and disco with jazz, while also using traditional African instruments to create a completely unique sound that many tried, but failed to imitate. They were the ultimate party band, yet boasted some of the best musicians around at the time, such as Alec Khaoli and Lionel Petersen. One of South Africa’s most important musical acts – Harari will forever hold legendary status, even after their split in 1982.
Proof of their talent and versatility was their participation in the recording of Pat Matshikiza and Kippie Moeketsi’s album, ‘Tshona’ which featured Basil “Mannenberg” Coetzee.They were invited by producer Rashid Vally of Kohinoor music retailer fame to assist Pat and Kippie on bas and drums. Kippie was sceptical about involving young boys in Jazz music, but once they started recording he was silenced by their brilliance and creativity.
Harari supported and backed Percy Sledge, Timmy Thomas, Letta Mbula, Brook Benton and Wilson Pickett on their South African tours.
In 1981 A&M Records released their albums ‘Harari’ and ‘Flying Out’. Some of their best singles ever were ‘Give’ and ‘Party’, both achieving platinum status and the latter even entering the American Disco Hot 100.
It is not always easy to pinpoint the forces that destroy the team spirit and brotherhood, but it is mostly money, power and fame itself. Sometimes it is simply the need to grow. Harari could also not escape these forces. At the end of 1982 the original Harari disbanded. By the early eighties a number of musicians had joined and left the band. Most of these members pursued solo careers. See also Om’Khaoli -Magic Touch 1982 -Township Soul & Boogie Vol 6
excerpts from the book Beyond Memory: Recording the History, Moments and Memories of South African Music /author Max Mojapelo
Alec “Om” Khaoli -bass