A cross-section of Zimbabweans yesterday mourned renowned revolutionary musician and war veteran Cde Dickson Chingaira, as fellow musicians, liberation fighters, senior Government officials, friends and relatives thronged his residence in Mabelreign to commisserate with his family. Popularly known as Cde Chinx, the iconic musician succumbed to leaukemia at Harare's West End Hospital on Friday evening and consultations on his hero status were underway by late yesterday.
His residence was a hive of activity as people from all walks of life converged to pay their respects.
Zanu-PF Secretary for Information and Publicity Cde Simon Khaya Moyo said in a statement that Cde Chinx's death had robbed his family, Zanu-PF and Zimbabwe at large of a talented, versatile personality whose songs were a tonic to cadres during the liberation struggle and after independence.
Through song, Cde Chinx also helped champion the Third Chimurenga (Hondo Yeminda).
"Like the late Give Nare who was the Light Machine Gun (LMG) choir master in Zapu during the liberation struggle and after independence, their songs are now part of our liberation struggle and lasting legacy," said Cde Khaya Moyo.
"Their songs stimulated both Zanla and Zipra fighters into action and helped mobilise the masses into an incredible resistant population.
"Cde Chinx, in particular, performed at independence celebrations and at State occasions until he fell ill and breathed his last. The party will miss you Cde Chinx, but your songs like those composed by your friend the late Cde Nare live forever. You were a true patriot and the youths must learn from your exemplary life and contribution to this free nation," Cde Khaya Moyo said.
Information, Media and Broadcasting Services Minister Dr Christopher Mushohwe said Cde Chinx was among a rare breed of cadres who joined the struggle at a tender age.
He said Cde Chinx played a critical role in the revolution through his music, which served to mobilise and spur on freedom fighters and the people in the war against the racist Rhodesian regime.
"Cde Chinx was one of the few comrades alongside Cde Mhere and Cde Murehwa who had a talent to sing," said Dr Mushohwe. "He was among the best crop of singers and composed such songs as 'Maruza Imi Vapambepfumi', among others which inspired freedom fighters."
Dr Mushohwe said after independence, Cde Chinx's songs encompassed pan-African values advocating unity among Africans.
"When the Government embarked on the land reform programme in 2000, Cde Chinx was one of the few musicians to embrace the struggle for land through music in songs contained in the 'Hondo Yeminda Volume 1 and 2' albums which he did with the Police Band," he said.
"This was at a difficult time when many artistes began demonising the Government through their works, but Cde Chinx stood for the revolution."
Zimbabwe Defence Forces Commander General Constantino Guveya Nyikadzino Chiwenga and Secretary for Information, Media and Broadcasting Services Mr George Charamba were among high-profile personalities who attended the funeral wake yesterday.
Addressing mourners, Gen Chiwenga said while many people knew that Cde Chinx was unwell, everyone hoped that he would recover.
"Even when he went to hospital, we know that the purpose of that visit was to have his catheter changed," Gen Chiwenga said.
He said Cde Chinx's music inspired many young people to join the liberation struggle.
"The biggest work that he carried out was outside the country during the liberation struggle when he showed his singing talent," said Gen Chiwenga.
"Everyone knew his voice although they might have not known the physical person. His songs strengthened people and clearly demonstrated how evil whites were."
After independence, said Gen Chiwenga, Cde Chinx was attested into the Zimbabwe National Army Presidential Guard, but requested that he be allowed to leave the army to continue with his musical career.
Speaking at the same occasion, Mr Charamba paid tribute to the Zimbabwe Defence Forces for deploying medical personnel to assist Cde Chinx during his illness.
He said the Premier Service Medical Aid Society played a significant role in attending to Cde Chinx through its West End Hospital.
"CDF Gen Chiwenga deployed medical doctors from the ZDF and they did their best to assist Cde Chinx," said Mr Charamba. "There is a lot that the medical corps did to support him. I was a link person between the family and the army."
Mr Charamba said he was so close to Cde Chinx that the musician would come to his office without appointment, particularly when his health continued to deteriorate.
He said Cde Chinx visited him three times and he would link him up with Gen Chiwenga to explore ways of assisting him.
Cde Charamba said he valued a lot of Cde Chinx's musical lyrics that he would use some of them in his Saturday Herald column known as Nathaniel Manheru The Other Side.
"Many people have been wondering and asking who is Nathaniel Manheru," he said. "It is me George Charamba and I would quote several of his songs in my column."
Government, said Mr Charamba, took a deliberate decision to support musicians through organising musical galas.
"The reason for including Chinx in these galas was that young musicians would want to emulate Americans, yet Cde Chinx's message would be rooted in our revolution," he said.
He paid tribute to Zimbabwe Music Awards chairperson Mr Joseph Nyadzayo for honouring Cde Chinx's work by constructing and donating the house in Mabelreign.
Mr Charamba said plans were under- way to publish some of the work they did with Cde Chinx.
He paid tribute to fellow musicians who attended yesterday's funeral wake among them Zexie Manatsa, Nicholas Zakaria, Fred Zindi and Isaac Chirwa.
Zanu-PF Harare provincial commissar Cde Shadreck Mashayamombe yesterday said they were still waiting for a response from the Zanu-PF leadership on their request for national hero status for Cde Chinx.
"The leadership is still in the process of enquiring," he said. "As a province, we are still waiting. We expect the response tomorrow (today)."
Zanu-PF National Secretary for Administration Cde Ignatius Chombo, to whom the province addressed the letter, could not be reached yesterday.
Cde Chinx is survived by two wives, Patricia Makoni and Ntombizodwa Mangota, and 10 children.