HomeNewsMixed feelings over Zhakata’s Top 50 supremacy

Mixed feelings over Zhakata’s Top 50 supremacy

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VETERAN musician, Leonard “Karikoga” Zhakata’s dominance on the Radio Zimbabwe Coca-Cola 2016 Top 50 competition held on New Year’s Eve has triggered debate and divided opinions both on the showbiz scene and various platforms.

BY WINSTONE ANTONIO

Leonard Zhakata
Leonard Zhakata

The Hupenyu Mutoro hitmaker had three of his songs Madam Boss, Zvine Mwaka and Moyo Wekutenda off his album Mutungadzese topping the annual radio competition, sponsored by Delta Beverages through their Coca-
Cola brand.

While Zhakata won as a result of a voting system, in which Zimbabwean music followers vote for the songs that were the best throughout the year, some music followers argued that the album Mutungadzese did not deserve such an honour.

While some expressed scepticism on the voting process that ushered in Zhakata’s victory, others view the dominance as deserved, arguing his supporters voted for him.

The raging debate has even raised more questions than answers, with some querying how Zhakata could win so much, yet he was not filling venues during his live shows across the country, unlike fellow artistes such as Jah Prayzah and sungura maestro, Alick Macheso, who was voted the second best.

Also not to be overlooked are the claims that Zhakata is riding on the influence of Emmanuel Makandiwa’s United Family International Church (UFIC), where he is a member.

In an interview with NewsDay yesterday, music commentator, Blessing Vava said there is need to look at the market segmentation, target, reach and, above all, an audience analysis to help find solutions to the raging debate.

“The radio stations have different audiences and tastes, among other things. Zhakata was only number one on the vernacular radio stations, which have a different listenership from other local radio stations. It is, therefore, suicidal only to use the votes on Radio Zimbabwe to judge the popularity of an artiste,” he said Patson Dzamara, a pro-democracy activist, commenting on Facebook, said he acknowledged that musicians such as Jah Prayzah had proved their mettle and indeed were riding high.

“I wore my academic lenses and juxtaposed all that with these results, which saw Madam Boss becoming the song of the year. I came to the conclusion that there is a difference between hype and grassroots. LKZee [Zhakata] has strong grassroots support. He is very humble and he never strikes any rumbustious codes on social media,” he said.

“Zhakata spends most of his time playing in rural areas, in small towns and that is where his people are and those are the people who actually vote. Those who fill up HICC do not vote. This is exactly what happens in the world of politics, those who make noise on social media do not vote.”

Promoter, Plot Mhako said Zhakata’s “surprising” win was justified.

“Zhakata’s consistency over the years in compositions resonates with the majority of listeners of the two radio stations, who follow his music passionately and ultimately vote for their artistes. The majority of people complaining are possibly urbanites, who are mistaken to believe Harare is Zimbabwe and not realising there are millions living outside the capital, whose life, culture and preferences are different,” he said.

A NewsDay reader, Chris Tshabs, said Zhakata was voted by Radio Zimbabwe and National FM listeners, who are not representative of Zimbabwe.

“There are many people who do not listen to ZBC radio stations and there are some areas where these stations are unheard of since independence and this Top 50, where one person is number one, two and three is unheard of,” he said.

Tshabs said Macheso and Jah Prayzah’s fans should learn to vote come end of year.

“Votes were counted that is why Zhakata won, but Macheso and Jah Prayzah’s music dominated in bars and vehicles throughout out. The so-called Zimdancehall fans are a non-starter compared to sungura fans and those youngsters do not want to vote. Zhakata is basking in glory because his fans voted in numbers, so we say congratulations to him because it happened,” he said.

A Zhakata fan, who identified himself as Nzombehuru, said Zhakata’s victory was confirmation that he had maintained his fan base since the early 90s.

“Zhakata has broken records with songs like Mugove and Upenyu Mutoro, among others, and I believe that is when he created more of disciples rather than just fans. His fans believe in him and they follow him passionately. His new album’s success just shows he still has the touch of a legend. He now has traditional followers and those from his newly-found base, UFIC, who feel inspired by his music and we are likely to have him on top for long,” he said.

Another NewsDay reader, Isiah Madzovo, said: “I am a bona fide fan of Cheso Power [Alick Macheso] and I think Zhakata won the accolades fairly. The mistake fans of Macheso, Jah Prayzah and others made was of failing to vote. Therefore, I urge other artistes to campaign seriously so as to garner as much votes as possible.”

Costa Rica Marowa said for Zhakata’s songs to be among the top three and Macheso occupying fourth, fifth and sixth positions confirmed that local music and radio had gone to the canines because during the duo’s (Macheso and Zhakata) peak, they never made it into chart shows with more than one song and this showed how flawed the voting process was.

The 48-year-old Zhakata dismissed critics, who say he is riding on the influence of UFIC masses, where he is a member, having won the same competition in 2014.

He said there were many churches and there were some musicians in those churches, let alone in his church they were more than 20 musicians, who could have dominated the competition, but he won as a result of the Zora cadres, who co-ordinated themselves and encouraged each other to vote as they felt his songs deserved the top positions.

The Mugove hitmaker will pocket $6 000 for the three songs — Madam Boss, $2 500, Zvine Mwaka, $2 000, and Moyo Wekutenda, $1 500 — courtesy of the sponsors.

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