Partisan political compositions cost musicians

Economic hardships the country experienced for a decade caused people to resort to underhand dealings to make a living. This saw the rise in corruption, prostitution and other nefarious activities, as people tried to put food on the table.

Musicians were not left out in this madness as they tried this and that to make a living. Some like Decibel, one of the Godfathers of Urban groove music in Zimbabwe, left the country for greener pastures. Some exchanged guitars for other trades.

However, in recent years there rose a new crop of musicians who have found a gold mine in praise-singing some politicians and parties.

Andy Brown is regarded as one of the best vocalists, guitarists, songwriters and music producers of all time, but has had to be pushed to the fringes of the musical world in recent years, because his music was seen as a prop to the former ruling party, Zanu PF.

After joining the band Ilanga in 1986, Zimbabwes king of the rock-bass-drum guitar as he was known together with Busi Ncube, and the late Don Gumbo produced two high-flying albums Silver and Gold and Visions Untold.

With his fame and talent, in the post 2000 period, Andy Brown was incorporated into Zanu PFs propaganda machinery as the then ruling party was facing stiff challenge from Morgan Tsvangirais MDC.

Since then, paying crowds to Browns live shows declined sharply, forcing him to go underground for years.

Still remember Last Chiyangwa aka Tambaoga of The Blair That I Know Is A Toilet fame?

Apparently, Tambaoga is singing the blues these days despite being one of the most sought-after artists in Zimbabwe at some point.

This is despite the fact his songs were played more than twice in an hour on all radio stations. His videos were daily staples on local television.

However, we have not seen or heard much from Tambaoga except his wife snatching incident a couple years ago.

In 2009, the Zanu PF praise-singer after close to seven years under the radar, tried to shrug off his tag and be accepted as a serious musician with an eight-track album, Hakata it was a flop.

At one time Tambaoga called upon members of the society to accept him as an artist, not a politician.

I want people to accept me as an artiste, not a politician. This is what has affected my music so much because even promoters and producers were failing to accept me as I am, he was quoted as saying.

Elias Musakwa of Ngaavongwe Records produced Eliot Manyikas propaganda album Zimbabwe 2005. The album had the song Nora and Manyikas lyrics include the phrase Zanu Ndeyeropa (Zanu PF is a party with a bloody history).

Musakwa said his widely-perceived political alignment to Zanu PF party was not the reason why he had produced the album.

I am only a music producer. Artists are free to express their conviction and we do not restrict anybody. Elliot Manyika has his convictions and our studio is open to everybody, Musakwa said.

There were reports popular gospel musician Amos Mahendere had aligned himself to the same side through producing controversial Zanu PF propaganda jingles which are currently receiving a lot of airplay on national television and radio. He is likely to head down the drain too.

Mahendere is the producer of the 10-track album entitled Nyatsoteerera performed by an all-female outfit, Mbare Chimurenga Choir and Get Connected by the Born Free crew.

With the fate that befell Tambaoga, Andy Brown and crew, it is amazing to see gospel diva Mercy Mutsvene has decided to join the great trek to unpopularity. She recently released a jingle praising President Robert Mugabe in celebration of his birthday this year. Instead of finding a better way of resuscitating her faltering career, Mutsvene has chosen to follow the steps of forgotten musicians.

Could this be a reflection of how musicians are always abused by politicians for their own selfish purposes? With all these examples, why are some musicians still willing to lose limb and life and risk their own professions and reputation for politicians?

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