Gaborone was the scene of an artistic invasion when the Ncube brothers unleashed their star power at the No. 1 Ladies’ Coffee House recently.
The affair was charming and the entertainment was far from negligible. Carl Joshua joined Cedric David Ncube in what has come to be the latter’s home base. Many braved the winter of Gabs and stacked the seats for a feast last seen in pre-pandemic times. The event unfolded over two acts, one each for the two Zimbabwean brothers. Carl opened the show with casual banter before cranking the reel – much like a competitive fisher – taking his baited audience on a ride.
Behind his sartorial navy blue blazer and spectacles lay, for many, a vault of quick-witted remarks that he nonchalantly release while navigating the stage with his walking stick. If anyone in the audience had not caught the drift after he broached the subject of ‘coloniality’ and residual colonial differences between Botswana and Zimbabwe, their jaws were on the floor when he brought in contemporary comparisons between various settler populations.
Not one to shy away from self-deprecating gags, Carl – the elder of the two Ncubes – moved between lamenting the stark differences between the promise of virility RnB love songs, youth and the realities of being an aging man, and passing a quip about the different statuses given to immigrants and migrants. While he lives in their Zim motherland and his visits to Botswana entail a fair share of close questioning, he poked at the ease with which his brother moves across Botswana.
When he took to the stage, the artist popularly known as “Cedric the Entertainment” didn’t disappoint. Going bar for bar with his brother’s witty and irreverent humour, his opening number was what can simply be described as an Anna Kendrick style rendition of Bob Marley’s iconic hit, Redemption Song. The use of vocal and instrumental looping has become a distinguishing element of the younger Ncube’s performances and the audience lapped it up while warming up at portable bonfires seeded across the venue.
The sparks from the fires were much akin to the muso’s black, red and grey chevron dinner jacket; perhaps an allusion to the synchronicity between the two showmen. Although he is a regular feature at farmers’ markets and other social affairs across the city, Cedric’s musical sets continuously showcased the breadth of his musical catalogue. Some of the artists that made his curatorial selection were Botswana’s own Samantha Mogwe, as well as Joan Armatrading and the incomparable Tracey Chapman, both of whom are iconic guitarist-singers.
As the embers dulled and the call of another Friday workday hankered, the audience dispersed with ignited spirits. If there is one thing the Ncube brothers have managed to disprove, it is that one artist in the family might be just about enough per generation. The duo finds a way of complementing each other that is exemplary camaraderie and brotherhood. No-one knows how long it will be before the next performance-related chapter is written into this family’s history, but Gaborone hopes it will be sooner than later.