Monday, 6 February 2017

2016 songs that tell the Zimbabwean political story

Zimbabwe is a nation on the cusp. Some say we are reaching the boiling point but from the looks of it, we are already in a boiling pot. From massive scandals like the disappearance of $15billion to the cash crisis that’s seen people spending more time at bank queues and the unfortunate herald of the return of the Bond note to the recent Bicycle-gate mixed with shutdowns and protests in and outside the country, the future of the republic is uncertain.



Citizens are always on the alert for the next teargas moment (or the Choppies moment) whilst republican police have made the baton (button sticks) and helmets part of their uniform. Catching thieves, pickpockets, murderers or burglars is the last on ZRP duty list. If they aren’t on the roads looking for money to fund endless trips by those ‘above’ then they are polishing teargas canisters (smoke machines) ready to kick butts.

Artists whom we have criticized for turning a blind eye to the unravelling situation have this year made commendable efforts to say something with the limited freedom of expression. We are not sure how much this is affecting them but we applaud their attempts at speaking truth to power. So whilst Tambaoga and crew continue with their bootlicking, ‘serious’ artists are now talking serious issues. Here are some:

Winky D – 25

It’s a tale of broken dreams. At some point in our teenage lives, we envisaged a better future and had laid out plans depending on our understanding of success. In 25, Winky who says he’s well into his 30s believed that at 25 he would have it all (a mansion like Kasukuwere’s, yellowbone for a wife, Jaguars & Phantoms). To date the only youth who can boast of having achieved that (except a wife) is Wicknell. In today’s Zimbabwe, youths are going beyond 25 before they get a decent job or sustainable source of income.  Today’s young are having to work harder but earning less.

Hosiah Chipanga – Kana nyika yakanaka (In a normal economy)

He went from gospel singer to regime bootlicker then had his damascene moment. The Mutare-based veteran artist who has released several albums that are critical of the system released another government critique this year. A track known as Kana nyika yakanaka laments how ZRP have turned into Ben 10s as they concentrate on fundraising at the expense of crime solving. He goes points out that people are gainfully employed professionals in a normal economy but everyone has been turned into a vendor by abnormal situation. The message is directed at those ‘above’ who are still in denial. Our situation is dire and in immediate need of redress.

Alick Macheso – Tinorarama nenyasha (We live by grace)

After years of silence characterized by personal and family issues that threatened to leave the Sungura maestro down and out, Macheso rebounded with a new album. The standard and quality remains a topic for another day. There’s a track that highlights how Zimbabweans are surviving each day. In a cash-less society, Zimbos have been forced to adopt plastic money rapidly (EcoCash being the biggest gainer) amidst talk of the imminent bond note. In the song Kurarama inyasha Alick points out how our continued existence in Zimbabwe has to do with more than just our wit but some form of divine intervention. It’s the grace of God that’s seen us live thus far otherwise ZimASSET has totally failed.

Killer T – Takangodaro (We are who we are)

Although not as poignant, Takangodaro shifts the republic’s focus from the glitz of north Samora to the grim reality of ghetto life. The release talks of how in the life of lack and disappointment, ghetto youths manage to keep their heads high. In the message, the youth is proud of his situation and exclaims they will not let ‘the haves’ dictate to them.  The ghetto massive are finally realizing that there exists a class, clique or kleptocracy (Biti’s word) that enjoys using their privilidged position in our nation to judge, demean and control the masses…but hatiregere kuita hunhu hweghetto.

Jnr Brown – Tongogara

The rapper laments the problems of the youths. The song highlights the struggles of students to get standard education as parents fail to pay fees. With broken families & broken dreams, girls are left vulnerable to sexual exploitation by blessers (proverbial sugar daddies) leading to unwanted pregnancies. Jnr Brown points to growing gap between the rich & the poor as the poor stay poor even when they try. Drug abuse is brought into the spotlight as desperate youths turn to medication (bronco) as a cheap alternative for alcohol. In closing, he urges youths to unite ‘ngatibatanei tiite zibigger team’. At the end of the struggle, General Tongogara is heard pronouncing the goals of the liberation struggle which seemingly have been betrayed by those ‘above’.

On a punny note… Jah Prayzah – Mdhara Vachauya
We are not sure which mdhara he refers to but this could be the year when ‘Ngwena’ finally bites.
Could 2016 be the year when musicians finally wake up to compose the music for the people’s struggle? Will this be the moment when our arts sector will finally brave the scrutiny, persecution and censorship that comes with #FreedomOfExpression in Zimbabwe? Are these fluke releases or this will become the norm?

For the good of the Republic!

*Female voices in arts are seemingly silent on the developing situation and only they can speak on their behalf. There’s room for all.

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