Mzwakhe Mbuli

Mzwakhe Mbuli rose to fame in the mid-1980s as the people’s poet, reciting his resistance poems at political rallies, often sneaking in and out because he was wanted by the apartheid security forces.

Shifty invited him to record an album dub-poetry style, with a backing band. In 1986 the album Change is Pain was recorded with a core backing band of Simba Morri (guitar), Gito Baloi (bass) and Ian Herman (drums). The album was promptly banned because of its outspoken political message.

In 1989 Mzwakhe recorded a second album with Shifty, Unbroken Spirit, which in part documented his time in prison. In the 1990s he continued to record albums but with major labels.


Johannesburg-based reggae group who released two albums, Fidi Bou in 1984, and Jah Do That, in 1989.

Pongolo comprised three Mozambicans: Ilidio Motola (lead and rhythm guitar, lead vocals), Gito Baloi (bass and lead vocals) and Morris Mungoy (drums) along with George Sunday (keyboards and guitar), Bayete’s Joe Matsheka (sax and keyboards), John Hassan (percussion) and Rhona Rolls (lead vocals).

Simba Morri

Born in Kenya and came to South Africa to study in the early 1980s. In 1983 he formed Mapantsula at the same time as befriending James Philips who introduced him to Shifty Records.

In 1986 Simba Morri left Mapantsula and was invited to record a solo album with Shifty. In 1986 he released the album Wasamata with Shifty.

The core of the band comprising Simba Morri on guitar and vocals, Gito Baloi on bass and Ian Herman on drums. Kelly Pitlane played flute and Jannie van Tonder played trombone. After the album was released the band morphed into Tananas without Simba Morri who continued to perform as a solo musician collaborating with others. In 1990 he recorded the album Celebrating Life with Third Ear Music.

Over the next three decades he has continued to perform in South Africa and in southern Africa: Zimbabwe, Zambia, Botswana, Malawi and Namibia.


Formed out of Simba Morri’s band in 1987 with Steve Newman (guitar), Gito Baloi (bass) and Ian Herman (drums). They began by playing gigs at Jamesons in Johannesburg and recoded their debut album Tananas with Shifty Records in 1989.

This was followed with five more albums with major labels in the 1990s.

Gito Baloi and Steve Newman continued with solo careers and tragically Gito Baloi was murdered while driving through Johannesburg in 2004.