The Herald (Harare)

18 January 2013

Zimbabwe: What Is Gospel Music?

DURING the economic downturn when all hope was fading away Shingisai Suluma and the Joy Street Choir put together a masterpiece "Fara Zvakadaro".

The picture that comes to mind about those days is a gloomy one.

In the song Shingisai sings:

Munda ukasabereka kudya

Mbeu ikasa tumira ruva

Mombe dzikashayikwa mumatanga

Mbudzi dzikapera, makwai aparara

Nyangwe zvakadaro ndichafara kwazvo

Ndichava nemufaro muna Mwari

Chorus

Mufaro washe wedu ndiro simba redu zvakadaro

Tichangofara (zvakadaro) x2

How lovely on the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news announcing peace, proclaiming news of happiness that our God reigns.

The core of gospel music is the good news of the kingdom of God. It is declaring and proclaiming the message about God and relevant messages from him in season.

God continues to speak in our lives and in order to reach to humanity He uses many ways and one of them being music.

While listening to a radio show on Star FM hosted by Leekay and Ollah 7 on Tuesday night it was quite interesting to hear the various views that people have about gospel music. For me the interesting thing was that this week, in fact this month I was thinking of gospel music.

One of the issues on the show was a debate on whether Winky D's song "Mumba MaBaba" was gospel or not and the use of slang words, etc.

My view on Winky D is that he is a man whose ears and eyes are glued to the times and events happening in the society.

His message is relevant and presents a challenge to those who are taking the house of God for granted to think twice.

The unfortunate bit about the whole experience is that Winky D is a secular artiste and so he doesn't quite fit the bill.

Therefore, for the message to have ultimate authority it would have

to be sung by someone whose focus and attention is on The Kingdom of God.

But let's not forget that God can use anyone anyhow especially when those called to sing gospel are not in tune with the times.

Street language sounds great to communicate with our peers at work and so on.

When used in gospel music I think it reduces the respect and relevance that must be accorded to God and His Kingdom because that is what gospel music is all about.

The "look before leap" music consultation platform is putting together an opportunity for those wanting to venture into gospel music to get mentorship from the greats such as Baba Machanic Manyeruke, Pastor Gee and the likes.

Keep your ears to the ground for the dates.

Gospel music must inspire humanity and respect the ways and authority of the Kingdom of God.

It must also celebrate the benefits of being a Christian.

Well, this is part one, there is more to come. You can email me on your views too.

Till then, All praise and honour belongs to our God.

Richard Kohola is a music critic and development expert.

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