The Brother Moves On

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The Brother Moves On
Origin Johannesburg, Gauteng, South Africa
Years active 2009 (2009)–present
Labels Independent
Associated acts BLK JKS

The Brother Moves On [abbreviated as TBMO] is a South African performance art ensemble from Johannesburg, Gauteng. The group was founded somewhere between the years 2008 and 2010 by broad-based artist Nkululeko Mthembu.[1] TBMO began as a self-proclaimed art movement mainly of graphic and fine artists and since began incorporating instrumentalists for the live performance environment. The name The Brother Moves On is a grammatical misconfiguration of The Brother Mouzone, a fictional character in the American television drama series The Wire. In their emerging stages, the movement interrogated the notion that members were each an impermanent part of the process. Hence the derivation of the name The Brother Moves On.

In its current configuration The Brother Moves On performs mainly as a band. Members include Nkululeko Mthembu (costuming, performance artist, visuals), Nkululeko Mthembu's older brother Siyabonga Mthembu aka Mr.Gold (storyteller, lead vocalist, performance artist), their first cousin on their father's side Zelizwe Mthembu aka Makongela (vocalist, guitarist, flautist), Raytheon Moorvan/ Raytheism (vocalist, guitarist, synthesizer), Ayanda Zalekile (vocalist, bassist, multi-instrumentalist), Simphiwe Tshabalala (vocalist, drummer). As of 2012 Rob Scher joined on saxophone.


Formation and beginning[edit]

Nkululeko, Siyabonga and Zelizwe Mthembu grew up together in the East Rand of Johannesburg, South Africa. Thus they started composing together from a young age. Upon graduating from Rhodes University in the Eastern Cape, S. Mthembu left his former band, Orangutang Bitch, and moved back to Johannesburg. At the same time his younger brother Nkululeko was enrolled at AFDA, The South African School of Motion Picture Medium and Live Performance. Disgruntled, Nkululeko withdrew from the franchise in pursuit of other inspired artistic endeavors.

In early 2009 Nkululeko met Raytheon Moorvan at a local live music venue, The Bohemian, and invited him to a rehearsal. Since then Nkululeko Mthembu, Siyabonga Mthembu, Zelizwe Mthembu and Raytheon Moorvan have been the longest standing members of the outfit. Current bassist (and multi-instrumentalist), Ayanda Zalekile, joined the band in early 2012. Current drummer, Simphiwe Tshabala, began performing with the outfit in 2009 then left for a short time, returning again in mid-2011.

The Golden Wake (2009-2012)[edit]

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The Golden Wake is the first musical offering from The Brother Moves On. The 6-track EP was performed and recorded at the SABC media park for a live studio audience and tells a fictional tale of a young South African villager named Mr. Gold. The self produced EP is available for free download from the band's site and, according to the band, will remain so indefinitely.[2]

In the time leading up to the recording of The Golden Wake EP, TBMO had many shifts in their line up. For this particular performance/recording the line up included Nkululeko Mthembu, Siyabonga Mthembu, Zelizwe Mthembu, Raytheon Moorvan, Simphiwe Tshabalala, and long time childhood friend of Simphiwe, Tito Sibusiso Zwana on Bass guitar. A spoken word performance artist/ dancer, Kyle De Boer also featured on a track entitled The Black Diamond Butterfly (which incidentally is the name of the character he plays for the piece).

Basic conceptual outline[edit]

The Golden Wake as a performed piece is a staging of a funeral for the character of Mr. Gold (played by Siyabonga Mthembu). Audience members are invited to the wake of this funeral and throughout the performance are introduced to other characters from Mr. Gold's life.

The story of Mr. Gold begins with a dream that he has of his grandfather. In the dream he is told by his elder to journey to the city of Gold to "Mine his dreams". Much of the thematic of The Golden Wake deals with the idea of Gold as a representation of value and interrogates this global idea of value as a charade.

E.T.A. (2012)[edit]

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ETA - expected time of arrival - The Brother Moves On’s second EP - presents two radio singles as a preamble to the ETA tour and the recording of the debut album. ETA was produced by Paulo Chibanga of 340ml.[3]

Basic conceptual outline[edit]

Track 1, Good Times, personalises the miners experience as a cathartic exercise in the wake of the Marikana miners' strike. Track 2, Ya’khalimbazo, is an ode to the self-defense unit that used to police Caleni "Kalambazo" section in Tembisa between 1990 - 1993.

A New Myth (2013)[edit]

In 2013, the band started the recording of their first full-length album. Titles like Duffel Bags Full of Dough, Game-Changing E-Minor and Fuck What You Heard Zen or Die were thrown around before the band settled on A New Myth.[4] A few weeks before the release of the album, Nkululeko Mthembu, one of the band's founding members, died.[5]

The album was released in December 2013 to critical acclaim. In a review for South African music website, PLATFORM, Kevin Minofu said: 'The Brother Moves On is the most important band in the country' and gave the album a score of 90 out of 100.[6] The album also came at number 5 on PLATFORM's list of the best albums of 2013.[7]


  1. ^ The assembly word, "Q&A with The Brother Moves On",, Saturday 19 January 2013
  2. ^ The Brother Moves On, The Golden Wake - still free,, 2012
  3. ^ Bongani Kona, "Audio: The Brother Moves On ‘ETA’ [EP Stream]",, 29 October 2012
  4. ^ Minofu, Kevin. 'Interview: The Brother Moves On',
  5. ^ Minofu, Kevin, 'Interview: The Brother Moves On',
  6. ^ Minofu, Kevin. 'Album Review: The Brother Moves On - A New Myth,
  7. ^ '50 Best Albums of 2013',

External links[edit]