We have noted with interest the sudden arrival and departure of Sizzla Kalonji, the popular Jamaican reggae and dancehall superstar.
Sizzla’s handlers led by one Nhamo Chitimbe, said they brought the effervescent performer to Zimbabwe so that he could sing happy birthday to President Robert Mugabe. The president turned 86 on February 21.
The 34-year old whose real name is Miguel Collins commands huge audiences worldwide. Often at odds with Western governments over his homophobic lyrics, Sizzla is a fearless and spontaneous performer.
His visit to Zimbabwe may have been a master stroke for those who remain hell-bent on propping up Mugabe’s waning popularity, but it also says something about the singers’ spiritual integrity or lack of it.
Sizzla claims to be a prophet of the religion of Rastafari, so named after Tafari Makonnen, the pre-coronation name of Haile Selassie I, the former emperor of Ethiopia whom Rastafarians revere.
Selassie met his demise at the hands of Mengistu Haile Mariam, whom Mugabe has shielded from prosecution since the heinous crime was committed in August 1975.
How can a prophet sing praises to a man who continues to offer sanctuary to his majesty’s murderer? Mengistu was convicted of genocide in Ethiopia, in absentia, in 2006.
Many ordinary Zimbabweans still attest to being victims of Mugabe’s disregard for human and property rights. These Zimbabweans might love Sizzla, but they could just be concerned with his choice of friends as he is now “Zimbabwe’s” newfound friend. He even paid a courtesy call to Vice President Joice Mujuru while ministers formed part of his entourage.
The musician’s visit, if anything is emblematic of the failures of Zimbabwe’s diplomacy: Joe Thomas, Luciano, Sizzla – this is what our foreign policy has been reduced to.
Mujuru and others who were spellbound by Sizzla should instead be focusing their attention on engagement with the international community. This is what the GPA says and this is what Zimbabweans want.
We have enough fawning souls locally to praise President Mugabe and we do not need to import kowtowing artistes to buttress that effort.
Bringing Sizzla to Zimbabwe is a cool thing to do for music lovers but politicising the whole affair turned the tour into a farce.
What did poor peasants gain from this tour? New refrains of praising Mugabe perhaps.