Mugabe critic opens up on Zim crisis


CANADA-BASED Zimbabwean musician, Viomak (VK), whose debut album, Happy 82nd Birthday President Mugabe — Diaspora Classics 1, has caused a stir worldwide, making her a trenchant critic of Mugabe’s presidency, this week spea

ks to independentxtra (IX) reporter, Itai Mushekwe.


IX: What made you decide to pursue music when you’re an accomplished academic now boasting a Master’s degree in educational psychology?


VK: Zimbabwean musicians are not doing much on protest music and I found it necessary to add my voice to our socio-political situation since it is of paramount importance to protest against what Mugabe is doing. And music is the best way forward.


Music speaks louder than any other form of communication. It looks like the music industry in Zimbabwe is being flooded with irresponsible and irrelevant themes, and I feel it is proper to sing about current issues affecting us.


The suffering of Zimbabweans has reached an unbeareable level and music came as a calling to me, as a form of a helping art, to assist the less-priviledged, hence my charity music that fulfils God’s will. It’s music for a divine as well as political purpose.


I also realised that it is high time someone sings about the socio-political issues affecting Zimbabweans and expose the culprits hoping they will understand that God put them into power not to oppress or murder us, but to take care of us and love us all in the same way God loves us.


I also diverted from the expected in order to prove to the generations of Zimbabwe that academics should not limit themselves to scholarly issues only, but use education to guide them to what they want to become and guide others as well in what can be done.


IX: You just didn’t settle for any other musical genre, but gospel music, which contains political protest. Why is that so?


VK: The only musical genre that fulfils my objectives is gospel music. Since I’m also getting into charity work it satisfies my heart to sing about the people who have caused me to engage in protest music — and gospel music is very appropriate.


As a Christian, I’m aiming at talking to God so that he intervenes and saves us from the jaws of Zanu PF. Gospel music is the proper genre of communicating with God. In these trying times God has the final say and I’m convinced He’s the only one who can deliver us from evil.


Zanu PF politicians have destroyed the country and political protest music is very relevant in the meantime since it educates the masses on what is going on. It is also of great benefit in the history of Zimbabwe as it records issues of great concern. The next generations should be made aware of how Zanu PF ruled Zimbabwe, and I’m convinced researchers will also have something worthwhile to research on, thus recording this history in a different way.


IX: Is your criticism of President Mugabe justified or a mere obsession with the man blamed for Zimbabwe’s demise?


VK: This pursuit is not an obsession but the simple truth. The evidence is there on the ground. Any sensible person understands that Mugabe is the sole reason for our suffering.


I remember growing up in Rhodesia as a young girl and generally life was very good. (Ian) Smith could have had his own shortcomings, but given a choice I would rather have Rhodesia than Mugabe.


Mugabe should actually ask himself why so many Zimbabweans are leaving the country now as compared to Smith’s days. Zimbabwe has gone down from riches to rags due to Zanu PF’s incompetence, selfishness, greed and corruption.


Anyone who denies this doesn’t want to accept the painful truth, or didn’t have the chance to taste life in Rhodesia.


Gone are the better old days when Rhodesians’ tummies were always full with food. Come Mugabe, come starvation and all the other problems that come with bad leadership.


IX: What do you hope to achieve by singing anti-Mugabe songs?


VK: Like any other liberation songs, anti-Mugabe songs will serve the same purpose of turning the oppressed masses against him in the same way liberation songs during the Chimurenga war turned the oppressed masses against Smith.


They also remind Mugabe that while he’s busy chanting anti-Blair slogans, people are aware that he is the root cause of all the economic, political and social problems bedevilling Zimbabwe now.


He should stop blaming other people for the mess he has caused. Tony Blair is not the president of Zimbabwe. Mugabe is not God. He was also created just like anyone else and there’s nothing special about him. He should stop holding Zimbabweans hostage but repent and give his life to Jesus and resign in peace.


Protest songs also educate Zimbabweans that they have the right to freedom of speech and should not be intimated by dictatorial and incompetent leaders who want things their own way every time.


My songs also advise Zimbabweans to refrain from hero-worshipping Mugabe.


I also encourage upcoming musicians to sing about our well-being and remind them that they have a great role in educating and informing society.


Whilst they might choose to entertain, they should focus on the most important issues that affect us as a people instead of wasting their talent on themes that do not impact on society in a positive way.


We have suffered a lot and our leaders’ wayward behaviour should be publicly condemned as they are answerable to us and not us answerable to them.


To let God know that the leader he bestowed on us is out of favour with most of us since he has failed to be anywhere near what is expected of a good leader, it’s high time He (God) relieves him of his duties through the best way possible.


IX: Are female musicians in Zimbabwe playing their part in denouncing Mugabe? If not, why do you hold that perception?


VK: It appears as if they are not. I guess it all depends on what their beliefs are. If they believe that struggling to get hold of (First Lady) Grace Mugabe satisfies their hearts then let it be.


If they believe that dancing to provoke men satisfies their hearts let it be as well, but women should avoid giving men the impression that they are sex objects.


However, I respect the fact that we are all different and view issues from different perspectives. On the other hand, maybe some of them support Mugabe’s craziness and it doesn’t make sense to denounce a leader they support.


However, I feel as female musicians they should naturally feel sorry for the dying country and suffering masses and stand up to voice their concerns in the same way Woza women are standing up to voice our concerns.


I’m sure most of us are in need of sanitary pads and family planning tablets. Expecting one group of women to fight for us is irresponsible and selfish. Female musicians are already in a postion of influence and I guess it will be most appreciated if they somehow say something.


While I understand that we need a variety of music genres, I feel that in the meantime, we are faced with a national duty of saving our country from further destruction.


Women are the ones who give birth to the same people who oppress and abuse us and should speak out.


Our female musicians are blessed with talent but some of them are not focusing their lyrics on issues that impact society.


I strongly feel that women should use their powerful influence to initiate positive change since they and children are the ones who suffer most in times of crisis because they are in most cases at the receiving end.


IX: What has been your greatest challenge in life?


VK: Living an unnatural and stressful life in the diaspora, scooping 10 A’s (distinctions) in my Master’s degree and receiving an in-house scholarship in academic excellence, coupled with singing Happy 82nd Birthday alone, amid an environment saturated with psychological difficulties that come with living here.


To me, life in the diaspora is an unending dog story that I will live to tell. Even though I hold a Nova Scotia teaching licence, the challenge of being here is still great and unbearable. However, Canadians are a great peace-loving and caring people, apart from some of their three-second plastic smiles whose meaning I’m up to now trying to figure out.


IX: Do you forsee your music seeing the light of day one day in Zimbabwe?


VK: It is between God and myself. God helps those who help themselves. I’ll be coming to Zimbabwe very soon to make it happen. It’s my voice and my throat and it’s up to me to sing what I feel like singing in the same way Mugabe uses his voice and throat to say what he feels like saying.