STORIES BY WINSTONE ANTONIO
AT 31, award-winning dancehall singer Soul Jah Love, born Soul Musaka, may have touched many lives through his deep lyrics.
In life, he may have been misunderstood, but was undoubtedly gifted. In death, he has moved mountains if the outpour of condolences is anything to go by.
From political leaders, creatives, fans, promoters and producers, among others, who took to different social media platforms to express their condolences, Soul Jah Love, also known as Sauro, Chibaba, Chigunduru and Mwana waStembeni, among others, has proved that he was, indeed, the King of Zimdancehall.
Soul Jah Love rose to prominence in 2012 with hit tracks such as Ndini Uya Uya and Gum-Kum.
Within a few months of hogging the limelight, Soul Jah Love bagged two gongs at the 2013 Zimdancehall awards ceremony for the Best Collaboration and Best Upcoming Artist.
Because of his flexibility, the dreadlocked artist, who started singing while in high school, continued to rise and managed to work with a number of artistes among them Winky D, Shinsoman, dendera maestro Sulumani Chimbetu and South African-based urban groover Nox Guni. Soul Jah Love became one of the few dancehall chanters to play alongside a live band, The Conquering Family.
Part of his discography includes Naka Dhula Dhaka released in 2018 and Zviri Pandiri Zvihombe (2019) and several singles that became national anthems.
Through his lyrical prowess, Soul Jah Love was often compared to top Jamaican singer Vybz Kartel.
He was known for his signature Chibabababa, Hauite Hauite, Conquering and Mafundan’a.
National Arts Council of Zimbabwe (NACZ)
Nacz director Nicholas Moyo said the death of Soul Jah Love had left a big void in the Zimbabwean music industry.
“The NACZ would like to convey its sincerest condolences to the Musaka family following the death of Soul Musaka aka Soul Jah Love. May the family find solace in the comfort of the Lord,” he said.
“Soul Jah Love’s death has robbed the nation of one of its talented young musicians who pioneered the production and promotion of Zimdancehall music from the high-density suburb of Mbare to national prominence.”
Moyo said Soul Jah Love’s lyrics took the nation by storm. “Soul Jah Love emerged from a crop of youngsters who were hungry for success in the music industry with their mix of Jamaican-influenced reggae beats with Zimbabwean style lyrics which resonated with the experiences of youths across the country,” he said.
“He will be sorely missed by his legions of fans and the entire music fraternity in Zimbabwe.”
Opposition MDC Alliance leader Nelson Chamisa concurred, saying the nation had lost a giant in the music industry.
“Young talent gone too soon, one of a kind. The music industry is poorer without this rare gift. My condolences to all Soul Jah Love fans, his family and friends. May God grant us comfort and fortitude during these trying times,” he posted on Twitter.
Fellow Zimdancehall icon Winky D said: “Dear Sauro, since it is now in excruciating pain our fate we should all acknowledge and embrace since it is written and ought to be, my grieving heart still rises in pain, pride and gratitude at your contributions to the musical narrative.
“Not recognising you in the Zimdancehall story shall remain a travesty. You travelled all musical thorny paths, even more you conquered in your distinct way. No musical heart ever conceived it, dared to try your lyrical path. We won’t take back the hope you have to the youths and we shall forever cherish the memories. Rest in strong dancehall riddims my bredren.”
Arts promoter and BodySlam Entertainment proprietor Simba Chikari, known for promoting studio production of Zimdancehall music, said in Soul Jah Love, the music fraternity had lost a game-changer.
“I have known Soul Jah Love since 2013 and together we walked a long journey. He was a game-changer in the music industry. We have lost a hero. The music industry will never be the same without him,” he said.
Contemporary musician Jah Prayzah said while Soul Jah Love might have lived too short, his music would last a lifetime.
“You always had a way to make everyone laugh, even when we least expected a joke from anyone, you would pull up. This was just how talented you were. Your name will be mentioned well up there among the greats as one of the most talented artists Zimbabwe ever had,” he said.
“I remember you asked me if we could do a song, three different times and on all occasions my answer was the same: ‘Who in his right mind would not want to do a song with Soul Jah Love?’ You stood me up at the studio on all three occasions and somehow I don’t know how I still find that funny. The last time we met you said ‘this time ndakuuya zvemashuwa (I am coming for real)’. There will be no replacement for you.”
Prominent music promoter, radio personality and wheel-spinner, Simbarashe “Godfather Templeman” Maphosa said in Soul Jah Love, the nation had lost one of the most talented creative artistes, but his legacy would live on.
“For me, I am pained, but what is so important is that Soul Jah Love inspired so many people within a short time in his musical career against all odds and the backlash even with the media he never gave up,” he said.
“Everytime I talked to him, he would say Godfather, my music is a true reflection of my life. This is the music that is making me survive, so I cannot change who I am because that is what I am. He was always fighting for his name. If you look at the song Kana Ndafa he released in 2019, he tried to explain that people always say bad things about me and I hope when I die they will remember the good I have done, not only the negatives.”
Trace Urban Southern Africa, a music TV network in Africa, Europe and Asia
“Popular Zimbabwean dancehall musician Soul Jah Love has passed. Our condolences to his family and friends.”
Former Information Communication Technology minister Supa Mandiwanzira, who is an avid follower of dancehall music, described Soul Jah Love’s death as a robbery.
“Your death is a massive heist to the music industry. Big robbery. Go well entertainer. Rest in peace Zimdancehall music’s five-star general. Conquering music superstar…super talented artiste,” he said.
Soul Jah Love, a lyricist par excellence
BY WINSTONE ANTONIO/ TAPIWA ZIVIRA
A LYRICIST par excellence, a word smith. His mic might have been turned off, but his music will forever live.
Sadly, Soul Jah Love (31) did not live his life to the fullest.
Born Soul Musaka, the popular Zimdancehall chanter is suspected to have succumbed to diabetes on Tuesday evening at Mbuya Dorcas Hospital in Waterfalls, Harare.
Family spokesperson Solomon Musaka told NewsDay Life & Style yesterday that following the government and World Health Organisation’s guidelines on COVID-19 protocols, Soul Jah Love’s body had been taken to Sally Mugabe Central Hospital for COVID-19 testing.
“We are now waiting for the COVID-19 results following some tests that were done. We have been told that the results would be available after about 12 hours. In the event that the results come back negative, the doctor said a post-mortem would be done since from his notes, it was not showing that he (Soul Jah Love) succumbed to diabetes complications,” he said.
“In the event that the results come back positive, then the post-mortem will not be possible as per COVID-19 protocols. In terms of burial, we are focusing on Friday or Saturday. There are two options, Warren Hills or Glen Forest. While his parents were buried at Warren Hills, some are suggesting we bury him at Glen Forest, but we are yet to agree.”
Exactly a year after he was in another health scare, Soul Jah Love’s death has left Zimbabwe
A giant, whose music appealed to many people across the social strata, Soul Jah Love told the story of his life, but perhaps never got the attention he was seeking through his music and interviews.
Accused of drug abuse and being reckless with his life, Chibaba, as he was popularly known, was ridiculed by some and as a popular musician, he was subjected to what was often a too moralistic criticism.
His story was like that of many hopeless, idle young men and women, boys and girls who hang out on the streets and find themselves getting addicted to and abusing all sorts of substances because they do not have anywhere to turn to in a country where government has neglected social services, and left unemployment to shoot through the roof.
So, in his life, and in his death, Soul Jah Love’s story was that of other artistes like the late South Africa’s music icon Brenda Fassie, who battled depression, rejection, and had society impose higher expectations on them.
That Soul Jah Love — a diabetes patient — was a troubled man, both in his personal and professional life, was equally known to the public as the fact that he was a talented trendsetter musician gifted with a beautiful voice and rich, deep lyrics.
This was a man who was paraded at pulpits — not once — as having received “healing” from some church leaders.
This was a man whose marital problems with fellow musician-cum-wife Bounty Lisa — born Lynette Lisa Musenyi — resulted in her ditching him, among other things, for failing to conceive a child in their marriage.
In all this, it was perhaps his upbringing and the entrenched Mbare roots that made him an authority to many young people, who in many ways could have related to the rich lyrics of his tracks.
Who would forget Ndini Uya Uya, Gum Kum, Go Back To Sender, Dai Hupenyu Hwaitengwa, and many other hits?
In its diversity, Soul Jah Love’s music was anchored on the daily struggles and victories of the ordinary ghetto youth.
Through singing about broken dreams, family problems, unemployment, drug and alcohol abuse, religion and evil spirits and winning in difficult situations, Soul Jah Love told not only his story, but also that of many ordinary Zimbabweans, young and
He might not have needed the “healing” publicity stunts that some church leaders pulled at his expense.
What he needed more than anything was not just medication for his diabetes, but psychological rehabilitation.
In one of the songs, Mwari Vanondida, released in 2020, Chibaba sings passionately about how friends and family had abandoned him.
In April 2019, Soul Jah Love produced a track, Ndoramba Ndichinamata, which talks about betrayal, prayer and evil spirits.
The song was one of the boldest statements the artiste made in expressing what he was going through.
In the song, he vows to continue praying to God in the face of betrayal and rejection by family and friends.
Soul Jah Love’s story exposes the collapse of our social services, where the remaining mental health institutions are in a sorry state.
In addition, it pointed to a society that stigmatises mental health issues like depression, anxiety and personality disorders, schizophrenia, post-traumatic stress disorder and substance abuse disorders.
The situation is made worse by the non-existence of affordable and open mental health systems.
For instance, consulting a private counsellor can cost well over US$100 a session and this is unaffordable to many in need of such services.
Soul Jah Love might not have been alone, there might be many other people who are having to watch themselves deteriorate, but have no door to knock on.
Mourners are gathered at number 15 Mauya Drive in Msasa Park, Harare.
Among the mourners who were at his funeral wake at 15 Mauya Drive in Msasa Park, Harare, was owner and founder of Gaza Conquering Empire, David “Gaza Commander” Kandawasvika who is credited for the rise of Soul Jah Love, Tocky Vibes, Cello Culture, Freeman and Guspy Warrior.
Sleep well Chibaba, Ngwendeza.
Chigunduru chawana zororo.
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