The ruling Zanu PF party’s decision to declare the late Zimdancehall chanter Soul Jah Love — born Soul Musaka — a liberation war hero has inadvertently raised political dust and left internet users divided.
Musaka, aged 31, was pronounced dead on Tuesday night upon arrival at a Harare hospital.
In a letter addressed to Chief Secretary to the President and Cabinet, Misheck Sibanda, the party’s secretary for administration Obert Mpofu disclosed the declaration.
“His Excellency, the President and First Secretary of Zanu (PF), Cde ED Mnangagwa has conferred a liberation hero status to the late Cde Soul Muzavazi Musaka who passed away on 16 February at Mbuya Dorcas Hospital,” wrote Mpofu.
“… I shall be most grateful if you would make the usual arrangements for his burial and payment of benefits to his family. He hails from Harare Province.”
However, there were mixed reactions on social media whether or not the award-winning artist deserves the hero status conferment. Others also contested the conferment coming, as it was, from a party rather than it being a national matter deserving the participation of non-partisan decisions.
“Thank you for honouring the youths we are truly humbled. Well-deserved young man MHSRIP,” wrote @Lee_Ann_Cara on Twitter.
Others were not amused.
“(I) have nothing against Soul Jah Love, but I think Zanu PF has blundered on this one; what is this guy famous for apart from zimdancehall music I don’t get it,” tweeted @NhidzaMr.
Heart&Soul TV and radio host Blessed Mhlanga (@bbmhlanga) tweeted: “I agree that Sauro (Soul Jah Love) was inspirational, I submit he was an icon. I don’t know what liberation he fought, but a musical hero, yes, he is to the people of Zim. The honour is befitting, but I think it should not come from a party.”
Award-winning journalist and film-maker Hopewell Chin’ono (@daddyhope) also tweeted: Zanu PF declared Soul Jah Love a provincial hero to tap into public sentiment. Yet what Soul Jah Love needed was healthcare when he was alive. He couldn’t get it because Zanu PF looted the state coffers dry and hospitals are not working! Citizens need hospitals not empty accolades.”
But the conferment of hero status to the popular chanter also raised questions around Zanu PF’s selective amnesia as other deserving figures were overlooked.
South African-based lawyer and scholar Siphosami Malunga (@SiphoMalunga) was not amused. He tweeted: “Taking nothing away from Soul Jah Love whose life story was as inspirational as his musical talents, BUT how do you square not awarding Chief Maduna hero status & the next week awarding Soul Jah Love? It’s clear @ZANUPF_Official does not care for Matabeleland & its people. Simple.”
Chief Vezi Maduna Mafu was buried on Wednesday at his homestead in Avoca, Filabusi.
Opposition MDC Alliance youth leader Obey Sithole (@TereraiSithole) wrote: “We took time to join the Musaka family and friends in mourning the Soul Jah Love. He was a legend who left us with something in abundance to remember him for. We shall continue with the Kuponda Nhamo mission because maGhetto Yutt Taneta Nenhamo. Rest In Riddim Makuruwani.”
The opposition youth leaders visited the late artist’s homestead in Msasa Park, Harare, to pay their last respects.
Meanwhile, the dancehall superstar will be buried tomorrow at 11am at Warren Hills Cemetery in Harare, his family announced last night. He will get a state-assisted funeral.
The dancehall superstar rose to prominence in 2012 with hit tracks such as Ndini Uya Uya and Makonzo.
Within a few months of earning the spotlight, Soul Jah Love received two gongs at the 2013 Zimdancehall Awards ceremony for the Best Collaboration and Best Upcoming Artist. He continued to rise, winning more awards, and managed to work with a number of artists among them Winky D, Shinsoman, dendera maestro Sulumani Chimbetu and South African-based urban groover Nox Guni.
Part of his discography includes Naka Dhula Dhaka released in 2018 and Zviri Pandiri Zvihombe (2019) and several singles that became anthems countrywide.
According to @ZimViral, Soul Jah Love “left five recorded songs at Sunshine Studio set to be released after mastering by the producer . The 5th song talked about his own death and it is going to be released tomorrow (today) before his burial then the other four will be released later on a date that is to be communicated”.
In a statement, the National Arts Council of Zimbabwe (NACZ) director Nicholas Moyo conveyed his condolences to the Musaka family and said the death of Soul Jah Love had left a big void in the Zimbabwean music industry.
“The NACZ is saddened by the sudden and untimely death of Soul Musaka (31) aka Soul Jah Love. The death of “Sauro” has robbed the nation of one of its talented young musicians who pioneered in the production and promotion of Zimdancehall music from the high-density suburb of Mbare to national prominence.
“Jah Love emerged from a crop of youngsters who were hungry for success in the music industry with their mix of Jamaican-influenced reggae beats with Zimbabwean style lyrics which resonated with the experiences of the youth in the country. He was a talented musician who took the nation by storm with his innovative lyrics in songs like Pamamonya Ipapo, Ndini Uya Uya, Fare Fare Tindike and Ndongosimudza Musoro, among a host of other compositions.
“He has left a big void in the Zimbabwe music and dancehall and he will be sorely missed by his legions of fans and the entire music fraternity in Zimbabwe.” Moyo said. — Staff Writer.