Music that fuels revolution

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It was an epic moment for Zimbabwe: the first time in 37 years that all Zimbabweans were openly telling their long-time leader, President Robert Mugabe, to go.

By Tapiwa Zivira

Across the country on all radio stations, on the streets, in homes and beerhalls, Zimbabweans were, for the first time since independence, speaking with one voice that they were fed up with Mugabe.

Despite this having been triggered by the military and fuelled by Mugabe’s former allies, the war veterans, the push to get Mugabe out of office became a national issue, many thanks to the events of Saturday November 18, 2017.

It all started in Highfield where Zimbabweans gathering for the rally in solidarity with the army’s intervention started posting videos of themselves playing Jah Prayzah’s Kutonga Kwaro, a song long suspected to be a tribute to former Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s ascendancy to the presidency.

With the videos circulating, Zimbabwe erupted, and before long, everyone had on their playlist, Kutonga Kwaro or Mudhara Vachauya, another Jah Prayzah hit.

But as much as these were the most played songs during the grand day, it appears music by some Zimbabwean music legends finally found its befitting place at this time when all that mattered was that we were all Zimbabweans.

Songs that I heard play include Comrade Chinx’s Vanhu Vese vemuAfrica, Zvikomborero, and Roger Confirm.

One could only wish Comrade Chinx was alive to witness this day because I believe that as much as he had become associated with Zanu PF, he, like other war veterans, also wanted to see this day when there was unity.

Another legend, Simon Chimbetu, also dominated the playlist, and the most popular was One Way, a song that preaches unity and oneness.

Thomas Mapfumo was never to be left out, with songs like Vanhu Vatema in which he tells us when we are united, we can achieve our goal.

But it was perhaps his protest songs that were more popular on this day, as the mood was that Zimbabwe was now united to oust the man that had tormented the nation for decades.

I saw young girls dancing to Masoja nemapurisa, a song that is directed to a leader who relies on the military and warns of disaster when the military deserts him.

This is exactly what happened to Mugabe. The military that he relied on finally deserted him and chose to stand by the people of Zimbabwe. I also heard young men sing along to Wakura, a song that mocks an old person who has lost his morals.

“Wakasara tsika nemagariro, zvino uchaita sei midzimu zvayakurasa…kufundisa vana tsika dzevarungu, zvino uchaita sei Mwari zvavaramba.”

The song made more sense on this day given that Mugabe’s sons have become notorious for reckless binges and spending sprees, a sign that vakarasa tsika nemagariro.

One of Oliver Mtukudzi’s controversial songs, Bvuma, also played in many cars, as people now openly referred it to Mugabe without any fear of repercussions.

What was exceptionally amazing for me was that the young men and women, who I had believed were not interested, or rather did not openly show zeal in the politics of the country, came out in the open and declared their desire for a Mugabe-free Zimbabwe.

Even more amazing was that they also expressed themselves through some of the old songs that I mentioned, like One Way, Roger Confirm, and Vanhu Vese vemuAfrica.

Far from the revolutionary songs, I think the catchiest line was Jah Prayzah’s, which goes “yangova yo yo nemasoja…”

And indeed, it was fun getting selfies with our dear soldiers as we sang along to great music and celebrated what could be the birth of a new Zimbabwe.

We only hope for the best, and in the meantime, let the music play on and spur us on in this struggle against tyranny.