3 March 2018

Zimbabwe: In the Lands of the Gods - Unpacking Winky-D's Gombwe

music review

The eye of the idiot always has one particular focus. D Day.

They focus on Independence Day. On The day of the wedding. The day of the funeral. The day of the burial. On Friday the 13th.

But what happens on Friday the 14th? Chances are the drama lies there. What is the body count? What is the carnage like? Is the corpse still in the grave a day after burial? What has happened to the corpse and has it been prised open deeply on day two to reveal the intricacies of the creature before us?

And so it has been with Gombwe. There is something that happened to Zimdancehall chanter Winky D's project after the launch. They have a word for it even; it is called silence!

And yet there is something unnerving about Winky D's Gombwe and indeed the most recent songs that he has released over the past two years or so.

When once he worried about earning and raising something 'green like his garden'... Winky has become immensely spiritual in something of an even uncharacteristically bipolar manner although not discomforting in the schizophrenia but demanding that it be looked at.

He isn't all flamboyance or making money or 'blinging' anymore. He has become a deeper creature and one that is cast in different light altogether.

The album Gombwe is the ultimate journey into two different worlds in one. Like the black and white veil of the traditional healer or spiritualist, Gombwe has deep meaning that cannot be unearthed by the ordinary untrained eye. It has the covert; the black. And it has the overt which the eye can see. The white.

The very name Gombwe, a deep Afrocentric self-titling shows someone who is steeped in spiritual wisdom, digging into his traditional African social and emotional repertoire to create a discography that makes him the social n'anga who preaches, reaches and heals through didactic messaging derived from his traditional powers.

Powers that can only be unleashed by speaking to the gods from of old. The song itself says he is that Gombwe. That ancestor appointed vessel that now speaks to the people though his music targeting the soul of the African and hoping to preach to them his message.

On the other hand there is the Winky D singing from the soul of the Holy trinity. The men and angels that bring forth the divinity of God as we know Him in urban life are unleashed on the listener through the song (Dzika) Ngirozi for example and suddenly there is a neat split between the identity of Winky D which becomes in the least binary.

The song has spoken to the ears of many. It is a beauty of a song that is heard by the ears of a million and touches a million and one lives! You do not need to decipher the words of Winky D sometimes for him to magically speak to your heart and being.

He often does not speak to your ears. The Winky D on Gombwe, the one that speaks to the spirit, is one that instead wants to speak to the ghost in the machine. The fleshless animal inside you. To appeal to your inner being.

He does so all too well in Hatiperekedzane.

The question, is; after Panorwadza Moyo and now (Dzika) Ngirozi and Hatiperekedzane. Why has Winky become spiritual? Spiritualistic? Why singeth he by way of dirge? Has he seen some end or human perdition that we ordinary men and our blighted eyes have not seen?

Why is the ghetto prophet preaching making memories while we still live? Why is Winky D crying? What makes a lyrical prophet cry?

All this is what makes Gombwe a magical musical journey.

And then there is the song Number 1 which he sings with the young pupils of Haig Park Primary School.

A little bit of digressive context.

The year is 1996. 40 young men and women, school pupils, gather in a dingy studio along Robert Mugabe Road. It is called Hi-Density records and is run by the now late Prince Tendai. They ought to record the first commercial album by a school. Six songs and they will be in their way.

27 hours later they lie exhausted on the dirty couches. The last song is yet to have the tenor recorded. Eight out of ten tenors have lost their voices totally. The final four record their tenor bit. Two are borrowed. One from contralto and the other a bass vocalist. The album has to be finished.

That is Msengezi High School recording Ngaisangane Africa, which opened up the way for other schools in the studio.

Too many times entertainment journalists and lay critics do not know that it is a harrowing experience to record a song and even worse when you have to teach little kindergarten chaps and lassies to hold a key, overcome the intimidation that a studio poses as well as record for hours on end, oft times taking it from the top until a song is done.

It is easy to 'diss' an effort because people are ignorant of what it takes to record. They haven't the slightest clue because they have never stood in a studio to sing or hold a key to walk a mile in the shoes. Or rather sing a second in that key.

That Winky D went through that process with very young pupils is more than a show of love and patience. It shows that he has a deeper intention. Maybe the gods spoke to the Gombwe-to Winky D, and asked that he usher in a new youthful generation into music. Maybe he is looking for innocent virgin souls to sing the song of hope? Maybe it is a godly pursuit to fix an industry that has had too much hate and 'disses' so much so that we now need little children to remind us that music is about love-more-so Zimdancehall which had been riddled by hate.

There is a new Winky D in town. He is a spirit. More than flesh. And only those gifted with spiritual eyes will be able to see the magic that is this new creature. This new Gombwe!

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