21 April 2006

Zimbabwe: Viomak to Remake Anti-Mugabe Album

CANADA-BASED Zimbabwean musician Viomak, who unleashed a stinging protest album against President Robert Mugabe in February, is set to make an overhaul of the production in South Africa.

Speaking to IndependentXtra in a telephone interview from her Halifax base this week, Viomak said the decision to redo the controversial 11-track album -- titled Happy 82nd Birthday RG Mugabe: Diaspora Classics 1 -- was encouraged by her fans who felt the production was not up to scratch.

Viomak claimed she encountered "recording complications" with her producer, Fateh Ahmed, a Sudanese whose poor knowledge of Shona and Zimbabwean music resulted in a second-rate product although it has made shockwaves in Canada, Britain and the United States.

"I faced recording problems because my producer is from Sudan," said Viomak. "He didn't understand Shona therefore creating problems in coming up with a relevant beat. However, I'll be visiting a South African studio soon for a polish-up."

She added: "Another reason is that a number of fans that listened to the album urged me to put a Zimbabwean flair into my music thus giving it identity. Some of them want me to improve on vocals, while others want me to fuse in traditional instruments."

Viomak is arguably the first female musician in Zimbabwe to openly criticise Mugabe for his style of governance and policies.

"Fellow female artists have decided to turn a blind eye to Mugabe's destructive rule, thereby failing the suffering masses," Viomak said. "I feel that women have a pivotal role to play in solving Zimbabwe's deepening crises because of our motherly role."

Hard-hitting songs on the album include Uchaenda Rini Mugabe, Hatina Rugare MuZimbabwe, Zimbabwe Mudumbu ReZanu PF and Ndofamba neDiaspora.

Although Viomak's music might not see the light of day in Zimbabwe, it can be accessed directly on the Internet at www.viomakcharitymusic.com.

IndependentXtra understands record giant, Gramma Records, was approached to produce and distribute the album at home but refused, citing its damning political content that fires a broadside at Mugabe for holding on to power for over two decades.

The development has seen Viomak exploring other options and avenues of getting her music to the people, thus engaging a South African record company as part of her broader plan.

Viomak's debut album contains strong messages accusing Mugabe of being the architect of Zimbabwe's misery.

For example, Ndofamba neDiaspora chronicles the ordeal of Zimbabweans living in the diaspora, most of who find themselves doing menial jobs having left their more rewarding professional occupations back home.

The song also blasts Operation Murambatsvina and Operation Garikai as "operation yemanyepo" (an operation of lies).

"I wouldn't mind Mugabe ruling forever for as long as Zimbabweans have a good life. People must not despair because God is with us and he's the answer to all our problems," Viomak said.

"I've decided to commit 50% of all the revenue generated by my music to charity for I believe music is a calling to me. God has a reason and a purpose for this great nation."

Asked if she did not fear coming back home, Viomak said: "No. God will take care of me because Mugabe haasi Mwari (Mugabe is not God)."

She added that her ultimate mission is to bring the whole presidium and Zanu PF to God and for "Mugabe to resign after listening to my music".

"I'm trying to figure out how to send him (Mugabe) a copy but I'm facing complications," Viomak said.

Viomak is pursuing a masters degree in educational psychology.

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