THIS year we just have to up the ante in terms of our commentary on the socio-cultural scene and it is always going to be as factual as it possibly can get as well as balanced as it can be. In the end, a column is really subjective because it showcases the opinion of an individual.
Bulawayo Shutdown 2019
I was there at the Bulawayo Shutdown gig at Queens Sports Club courtesy of Skyz Metro FM. They were the media partners for the promoters. I particularly liked the bit about MTV Base and Universal Music Group being part of the concert. I imagined that it would be a big deal. Indeed it was a big deal.
The stage was ridiculously grand as were the lighting and graphics. One had a sense that one was in for a big thrill. The bill looked cluttered with several local and international acts. I was particularly interested in Mafikizolo, a 20-year music industry veteran act with a catalogue of hit songs such as Khona, Make Me Happy and Ndihamba Naye. I knew that as a mature person I would not be disappointed even though I had not forked out the ridiculous cover charge the promoters were demanding. Nasty C has been one of Africa’s leading hip-hop exponents.
He is only 22 years old and he does not even rhyme in the vernacular. He uses hip-hop vernacular and has defied those who feel African rappers need to put a bit of the lingo in their rhymes.
The girls screamed at him. Dressed in sweat shirt and jeans that sort of sagged, he came on with the confidence of a veteran backed by a DJ and another guy holding a gadget that looked like a tablet. His manager stood on the edge of the stage, watching intently. I, too, watched from close range and witnessed a young musician who will definitely win several awards in the future of music. Time is on his side. And so are the girls.
This business has been powered by female fans ever since the days of Elvis Presley and the Beatles. When a singer has the support of the girls, then he is just about made. Nasty C did not have to exhort the crowd to sing along.
They knew the words to his every song. I am told Nasty C charged the promoters R500 000 (US$ 34 000) for his performance. I could not confirm with the promoter. No one ever really wants to spill this sort of beans.
Old wine is old wine. They are from my generation and I was rooting for them to give the young ones a showbiz masterclass, and they did. I was also hoping they would not disappoint by lip syncing. They did not disappoint. Theo had a couple of gender-bending costume changes whilst Nhlanhla remained decked out in her bright yellow ensemble throughout the performance. Backed as they were by a DJ, Mafikizolo, an Afro-pop group from South Africa, delivered a show worthy of their status as a much-travelled South African music brand.
The group comprises lead singer/composer Nhlanhla Mafu and singer/songwriter Theo Kgosinkwe. The third member, Tebogo Benedict Madingoane, who was a rapper, was shot dead in a road-rage incident in 2004. The music of Mafikizolo is a house/kwaito/marabi/kwela musical pot pourri. The fragrance of it wafted throughout the night of December 28 and, in less than an hour, they were off the stage to make way for others.
Something strange happened just before Winky D, born Wallace Chirimuko, came on stage. Power went out. The crowd bayed. I was uneasy as I did not know what would happen next. After five minutes, power came back on. It was puzzling because as I looked around the venue, lights were on. Was it an attempt at sabotage? We may never know. But if one is superstitious, one can say it portended what would happen on December 31 as some suspected political zealots petitioned the Censorship Board in an attempt to stop the launch of Winky D’s album Njema. The self-styled Gafa came on stage, to the delight of fans who screamed in excitement. Churning out hit after hit, Winky D showed everyone who the moment belongs to.
I had feared that after his unfortunate Kwekwe encounter with the notorious “mabhemba” (machete gang) folk at King Solomon’s, Winky D had taken refuge in the Garden of Eden as depicted in the song Mugarden which he released after the hoopla over his Kajecha song. I thought that had been his “peace offering” to his opponents. I was wondering what had happened to the nascent revolutionary in Winky D.
Music and politics in Zimbabwe has had a long history from the days when the likes of Elisha Josamu and his New Tutenkhamen sang Itai Cent Cent depicting urban poverty and disenfranchisement. Thomas Mapfumo used music to agitate against oppression to this day. What is the difference with what Winky D is doing today?
I will not say much about Jah Prayzah at this point. He has rights and responsibilities. So do the fans. There hope is that as the musicians do their thing, they are on the right side of history. Winky D is!