3 December 2017

Zimbabwe: Mapfumo's Warning to Upcoming Musicians

Veteran musicians Thomas Mapfumo and Hosiah Chipanga have urged upcoming artists to stay clear of bootlicking and endorsing politicians as it could have negative effects on their careers.

Mapfumo and Chipanga might have nothing in common in terms of genres, but their lyrics have more often than not raised red flags on politicians, especially those of the Zanu PF-led government. Mukanya as Mapfumo is affectionately known is in self-imposed exile in the United States while Chipnga has had to endure state media blackout and segregation from state functions.

"Kind request to all our musicians: Let us avoid music that idolises our national leaders. Ndozvakazoita kuti VaMugabe vazvione semusiki [That is what made Mugabe think he was the Creator]," Mapfumo recently posted under his Twitter handle @chimurengamusic.

In a series of other tweets, the pioneer of Chimurenga music said dictators were aided by such music in their gross mis-governance.

"Vatungamiri venyika vakadzimara vajairira kuimbwa, kupfugamwa nekunamatwa vanovarairwa votadza basa rekuseenzera vanhu. Tinochema mangwana [When ruling politicians are being sung and worshipped they lose focus and cease to serve people. We will regret tomorrow]," he tweeted.

Mukanya's sentiments have been widely viewed as directed at Jah Prayzah's song Kutonga Kwaro, which has become an "anthem" endorsing President Emmerson Mnangagwa as an anointed successor in the build-up to Robert Mugabe's resignation after 37 years of reign.

"The congratulatory songs become harmful if it is not constructive criticism because you cannot claim to have seen the goodness of something in such a short space of time," Chipanga told The Standard Style on Friday.

According to Chipanga, it becomes less of art but activism instead, which is not the role of artists who should be a bridge between the people and their leaders.

"My wish is that as musicians we must be a link between people and leaders and not take sides but rather play an ambassadorial role because if aligned and a governed fails or changes you could fall into the same fate," he said.

Zimdancehall artists, including Soul Jah Love, Killer T and Sniper Storm among others were quick to praise the military intervention and the ascendency of Mnangagwa.

Ironically, only a couple of months ago, Soul Jah Love sang the song Zvinhu in which among other things he showers praises on the Mugabe-led Zanu PF leadership and pledged allegiance.

It was not his first time to align with the ruling party and its leader as he had done so dedicating a song titled Happy Birthday Baba Mugabe back in 2015 and way before.

Seemingly changing goalposts to the new paymaster, a few days ago the chanter released a single titled Garwe (Crocodile) where he explicitly celebrates Mnangagwa while rubbishing expelled party members.

"Bad move. I am not part of it. The bold took a position before... " commented his manager Benjamin Nyandoro reacting to a Facebook post questioning if delving into Zanu PF politics will be a recurrent trait in his career.

"I was just explaining that we did not sit down and agree to write the song and in our agreement he writes songs freely on his own," Nyandoro later explained his comment to The Standard Style.

Sniper Storm and Killer T each released a track of the famous ghetto lingo statement "Nyika yese irikufara" (The whole nation is happy).

Zimbabwe with its divergent political arena, choosing a particular political party may have disastrous concequences on the careers of musicians.

While it is an opportunity for a quick buck, it could bring sour consequences of resentment from a class sharing opposite political views.

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