Why Zimdancehall awards should be funded

Why Zimdancehall awards should be funded

When they swept onto the scene the crescendo and largely intimidating sound was almost impossible to ignore.

Many waved off this new sound and ghetto bred philosophy as just another fad that would come and go the way urban grooves rose, popped and fizzled close to a decade ago in typical bubble gum style which the music was dismissed as.

Leading the revolution...Tally B

They probably have their right to such an opinion. After all Zimdancehall has several hallmarks that make it seem to be a mirror image of urban grooves, which now lies in near death state; comatose and almost certain to die in the intensive care unit.

Both are genres done largely by the youth and both have the greatest following amongst the youth and young adults. Both genres of music are mass produced without the musical and instrumental precision that characterizes music like that of Oliver Mtukudzi and Alick Macheso for example. Both genres of music can super rely on digital sources of instrumental architecture without the strumming of a single guitar.

And both music genres are characterised by a culture of sex, drugs and alcohol; a domain of the delinquents in society.

And yet, perhaps, this is where the similarities end and a crucial genre defining difference puts Zimdancehall way ahead of Urban Grooves with all people having to ignore Zimdancehall at their own potential peril.

Second to the Pentecostal movement in religion, Zimdancehall is the second most powerful movement of modern times after Makandiwa, Angel, Magaya and associates because it addresses core issues that the masses related with.

It has become the religion of the ghetto.

While Urban Grooves dwelt on puppy love between the girls and boys, partying, showing off one’s bling-bling and other such trivia, Zimdancehall articulates the ghetto gospel of pain, suffering, appreciation for family and things that affect the ghetto youth the most. Things that they are intimate about and things that they are angry about.

Tally B for example, who calls himself the Lyrical Lieutenant has his song Hapana Hapana (Shaiswa Mukana), which any sane government has to pay heed to. In it he bemoans the fact that the youth have skills and gifts and are well educated in the ghetto with two or even three diplomas each but they are jobless.

In a tone a hare’s breath short of crying, he relates how they wake up every day from the ghetto seeking work only to be told “hapana, hapana-dzokai mangwana”- there is no work, try tomorrow! The song which is more of a dirge encapsulates the youth’s disgruntlement with a government that has been quick and expert at giving promises of jobs but has delivered nothing but further job cuts.

And as the ghetto youths listen to this sort of message and almost all of them relate to it as they sit on the bridges and kerbs of Mufakose, Mabvuku and Kuwadzana, the despondency it brings can make them believe nothing will ever be done and may breed anger and a rebellious streak in their veins as their mentors sing of the daily torture.

Nobody spells this new drive more clearly than the iconic ultimate Ghetto Gospel Prophet Killer T. his iconic album Ngoma Ndaimba was riddled with tracks that talked of nothing other than suffering and the ultimate betrayal of the ghetto youth.

Songs like Tavakuda Kumbofarawo highlight how the youth in the ghetto, unemployed and with limited opportunities, are now clamoring for a happy day.

Add to that the track Zvese Zvandairota solidifies this yearning. He now demands all that he dreamt of. He wants that elusive house and that elusive car and the good perks that come with a stable job. He speaks for a big chunk of the population. A youth that forms more than half of the population, but are left out of the Noah’s Ark of governance and decision making in their country both in private and public positions. It’s a harrowing tale and this often leads to revolution. Zimdancehall is the beginning of this journey and can be perilous if unaddressed.

She Calaz, Tocky Vibes and even Soul Jah Luv all have tracks that talk about the need to persevere in the face of doom and gloom in the country. They speak to their peers and encourage them to keep working hard in spite of the challenges they are all facing.

Zimdancehall has nothing to do with the leafy suburbs decision makers live comfortably in. It is a gospel according to the poor and when the poor speak to each other, the end result is revolution. It may not even be physical insurrection, but it may simply be the growth of mistrust and a lack of respect for authorities whom obviously have disrespected the people with the greatest demographic in the nation and themselves tomorrow’s leaders.

As elections come and go, the youth vote is courted and yet at the tail-end of such processes, the youth are left wandering in the wilderness, if the dire messages Zimdancehall is producing is anything to go by.

A parallel can be drawn in Jamaica with the protest music messaging that Reggae bred at the height of political differences in that country in the sixties and seventies. The true message of the story of people’s lives started being lived out artistically in song as the politicians battled for supremacy at the expense of bread and butter issues that concerned the masses.

Seh Calaz, Tocky Vibes, Tally B, Soul Jah Love, Shinsoman, Ras Pompy, Killer T, those have become the real prophets of the people. Their word is now more powerful than that of any politician; at least to the ghetto youths. Their word is sacred. Today, they are preaching a gospel of disapproval of the way they are being treated. A gospel of love for their mothers and the family unit. Their messaging is still responsible. But just one word that may be misconstrued and society may never be the same again. Policy makers need to peer into the real life of the ghetto youth by analyzing their problems courtesy of the Zimdancehall lyrics.
Watch Killer T Tavakuda Kumbofarawo:

They want homes, water, electricity and jobs, jobs, jobs. Anything short of that will not cut it. And as long as there is poverty and despondency in the ghetto, these youths will always sing to a crowd that shares the same problems. And as long as there is poverty, Zimdanchall, unlike Urban Grooves, will not die until the quality of life in Zimbabwe and the quality of citizenship is improved for all especially the future generations.

The fact that key people Phineas Mushayi, who have taken the initiative to celebrate the talents of these young upcoming stars get nothing but criticism for the ‘quality’ of Zimdancehall awards while the corporates do not chip in to fund these all important awards shows the world has not yet awoken to the importance of Zimdancehall artistes.

The country and serious people who appreciate the youth should instead been lining up to try and court Mushayi and sponsor these great awards. Instead we have a situation where the Zimdancehall Awards may even not happen this year for lack of sponsors.

Cometh the day, cometh the hour, the juggernaut of revolutions shall implode. And it will be too late to court friends amongst the impatient and angered unemployed ghetto youths. After all, it’s only a matter of time!

Listen to Tally B Hapana Hapana:


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