Nashil Pichen Kazembe
|Birth name||Nashil Pichen Kazembe|
|Also known as||Nashil Pitchen|
Kaputa, Northern Province, Zambia
|Years active||1970s – 1980s|
Nashil Pichen Kazembe (1932–1991) was a Zambian singer from Kaputa District in the Luapula Valley, who became an African music star in the 1970s. He was based in Nairobi, Kenya, where he collaborated with Peter 'Tsotsi' Juma, who was from Mbala in Northern Province on the Zambia–Tanzania border, and Benson Simbeye. As members of the Eagles Lupopo Band, they sang patriotic songs praising President Kenneth Kaunda and commenting on various social issues.
Early life and career
Nashil Pichen Kazembe was born in 1932 near the Congolese border, in Kaputa, Northern Province, Zambia, which was at the time tentatively part of the Luapula Province under Northern Rhodesian government. He had an affinity for music at an early age, and taught himself how to play banjos and later a guitar. In 1953, he went to work in the mines in South Africa, where he formed his first band, the Bantu Negroes, which was eventually disbanded after Kazembe returned to Zambia the following year, to become a business executive. Kazembe also spent time in Congo, Uganda, and Kenya, the latter being where he settled in 1958.
His musical activities in Nairobi included numerous collaborations with fellow Zambian emigre Peter Totsi, as well as membership in collectives such as Daudi Kabaka's African Eagles (also known as Eagles Lupopo) band, and The Equator Sound Band.
Nashil Pichen ended his career as a solo artist after moving from Kenya to Lusaka. His big hit "A-Phiri Anabwera" was the first single to sell more than 50,000 units in Zambia. It was a song about Mr Phiri, a long-lost migrant worker who returns home from the city empty-handed, only to find that no one in his village remembers him. Pichen had earlier scored a string of hits with his Super Mazembe band singing in languages. He worked with Mazembe as a producer and manager in Zambia, but he also came to have his own successful career as a solo artist in Kenya. It was in Kenya that he developed his style of combining Zambian traditional music with Congolese, Kenyan and Southern African urban rhythms like soukous, benga music and kwela. He returned to Zambia in the 1980s and recorded further albums there, and enjoyed popularity in Zimbabwe as well.
Kazembe died in 1991. Although he had a successful music career, at the time of his death he was a very poor man; no family members or offspring are known.
Studio albums and compilations
- A Phiri Anabwera
- Hot Hits of Nashil Pichen Kazembe
Selected singles & EPs
- Usaone Kumanga Thayo Pts 1 & 2
- Mwazima Nyale / Shanty Compound
- Kabolala Wa Chikondi
- Mungeli Ufwaya / Babili – Babili
As a contributing artist
- Before Benga Vol. Two: The Nairobi Sound (1993)
- M.M. Chanda, Davies. "Pitchen Kazembe Legacy Lives On". Times of Zambia. Retrieved 6 January 2019.
- Pichen at Allmusic.com
- Nashil Pichen Kazembe at Discogs.com
- The Nachil Pichen Kazembe/ Super Mazembe collaboration