BY WINSTONE ANTONIO
HE was controversial in life and continued doing so in death, causing commotion wherever his body was taken, with people stampeding to catch a glimpse of the casket.
No one understood the late dancehall singer Soul Jah Love’s modus operandi in life just like no one will understand how a young man like him made it to Warren Hills Provincial Heroes Acre where he received a 21-gun salute as he was laid to rest next to his father, Ephraim.
Born Soul Muzavazi Musaka, the chanter succumbed to diabetes complications last Tuesday at Mbuya Dorcas Hospital in Waterfalls, Harare, at the age of 31.
His burial was never short of drama, just like his life.
Mischief followed him and was depicted as a naughty character who was into drugs and in his moment of weakness would do the unthinkable.
Indeed, the unthinkable was done at Warren Hills Cemetery where youths were seen standing or seated on tombstones while a trail of destruction was left by the youths who may have been high on something.
Usually, the burial of heroes in Zimbabwe has become synonymous with forced closures of markets and bussing of scores of people to the national shrines by Zanu PF.
But the script changed when the people’s “hero” was being buried.
All odds were defied on Saturday as thousands thronged Warren Hills Cemetery to bury Soul Jah Love and just like the crowds that followed him in his life journey, there were mischief makers, drunkards, fellow musicians and promoters.
It was just an electric atmosphere just as it would spark each time Makuruwani went on stage.
At the burial, Zimdancehall enthusiasts went into a frenzy, while some naughty ones gyrated in front of the hearse carrying the body of the late 31-year-old singer, forcing the police into action, just like they did at his shows.
Thousands defied the lockdown regulations that restrict only 30 people at funerals, with ghetto youths walking long distances from as far as Epworth, Mabvuku, Mbare, Highfield and other suburbs to bury Sauro.
Funeral parlours fight over Soul Jah Love’s body
The funeral of Soul Jah Love once again rekindled the rivalry between the country’s leading funeral parlours Doves and Nyaradzo Life Assurance.
There were reports that the funeral parlours were again at each other’s throat “fighting” for the singer’s corpse, a fight which Nyaradzo won.
This only happens when an important person is buried.
The last time we saw it was when the late socialite Genius “Ginimbi” Kadungure died in November last year.
Before that, another tussle had punctuated music grandee Oliver Mtukudzi’s burial in January 2019.
At the height of his career, many wanted a piece of Soul Jah Love, but conveniently withdrew when he needed their help most.
Said events specialist and author Marshall Shonhai: “Soul Jah Love was diabetic and how amazing it would have been to hear that Nyaradzo, Doves or any other corporate has donated towards his medication. What good is a free funeral to Souro?”
Corporates stampede over dead Soul
Soul Jah Love’s death once again ignited debate on different digital platforms, with local corporates coming under heavy scrutiny for “cheap publicity” stunts as many were accused of wanting to benefit from the singer’s popularity even in death.
However, the corporates stand accused of neglecting him in his hour of need when he needed shelter, medication and support.
Jazz musician and Zimbabwe Musician Union interim president Edith WeUtonga Katiji said artistes should not only be honoured after death.
“I am grateful and as a sector, we appreciate this hero status. However, the wait to only show up at funerals must be stopped,” she said.
“His status (hero) does not serve him any good because he is dead. He needed help while he lived and he could not access it, he needed meds (medication) and could not get them in time.”
Fans to get new songs from departed Soul Jah Love
While Soul Jah Love’s mic might have been turned off, his fans will still be able to hear some of his new singles, while an album will be released posthumously.
Prominent music promoter, radio personality and wheel-spinner, Simbarashe “Godfather Templeman” Maphosa told NewsDay Life & Style that Soul Jah Love’s music legacy would live on as he had left many unreleased songs at different studios.
“Soul Jah Love has many unreleased songs being held at different studios, so his legacy will live on. I think there are over 50 unreleased songs from different studios I have talked to,” he said.
Among the studios with Soul Jah Love’s unreleased songs is Sunshine Studios, which a day before his burial released one of the five songs that he had recorded with them titled Ndichafa Rini?
In the song, Soul Jah Love asks God when He will take his life as he was tired of suffering and being a burden to people around him.
Rising singer Tinashe “T-Flexx” Dimingo confirmed to our sister paper, The Standard, that a new album by Soul Jah Love, where he features alongside Uncle Epatan titled Excuse Me, would be released next month.
Commotion became the order of the day as chaotic scenes characterised much of Soul Jah Love’s funeral wake from home (Msasa Park in Harare) until the day of his burial at Warren Hills Cemetery on Saturday.
The law enforcement agents had a torrid time trying to control the crowds, mainly youths who followed his music, both at home and at the graveyard.
The fans had gone there to pay their last respects to their dancehall hero.
At home, police continually clashed with mourners and were forced to disperse them after their exceeded 30, the number of people allowed at a funeral in accordance with the current national lockdown regulations meant to control the spread of COVID-19.
At the graveyard, things went out of hand as the police were overpowered by the mourners such that the burial had to go ahead disregarding the COVID-19 regulations.
Mixed feelings over hero status
Soul Jah Love divided public opinion when he was alive just like he did in his death.
The ruling Zanu PF party’s decision to declare Soul Jah Love a liberation hero was met with mixed feelings.
His hero status was said to be in recognition of his contribution to political, social and economic consciousness as reflected in his music.
His music was less political, but touched on real life issues, including the daily struggles of ghetto youths.
There were mixed reactions on social media whether or not the award-winning artiste deserved the hero status.
Others also contested the conferment, coming as it was from a political party.
The conferment of the hero status to the popular chanter also raised questions around Zanu PF’s selective amnesia amid claims that other deserving figures were overlooked.
A Harare-based woman Geraldine Baye took to social media platform Facebook on Friday, claiming that she was in a secret affair with the late chanter and also posted their pictures together.
“Google just had to remind me … This is all am left with … Memories … You didn’t have to go like that … together times to be cherished … we were so private and so happy no one knew about us we protected each other we did not let anyone in our home stories,” she posted.
“You taught me so many things, you gave me a reason to believe in myself again, you gave me love, you gave me strength in our very peaceful home … you did not want anyone to know about us. At first, it made me feel some type way till you showed me the bigger picture, you were only trying to protect us and it worked.”
She said although people mocked them, they, however, remained together as they accepted their fate.
“Everyone turned their backs on us, but that is what made us strong, people always questioned our relationship, but we still chose and because we were all we had for each other we grew closer by the day and some days were hard, but our beautiful moments were more,” she said.
“Sometimes you would get sick in the middle of the night and you would completely refuse to go to the hospital, that really annoyed me so much. I would just sit on the floor completely clueless on what to do, I would shout at you and you would tell me that sweetheart come cuddle your man.”
“Sometimes nights were long because it’s either you would be at the studio. Normally, you would leave home at 11pm to 3am or you would be sick from 5:30pm-5am or you would be at the show,” she said.
“What hurt me the most were Fridays and Saturdays, because we would spend the whole day okay, but get sugar attacks from 6pm and start regaining strength around 11:30pm. That part of our lives was the worst.
“The next morning, boom Jah Love is a failure, you would spend most of your time wondering why people could not see that you were trying and you were also human like everyone. No one knew how that chronic disease affected you, all people wanted to see was a strong Jah Love, but never considered you were trying.”