THE history of local music is littered with reports of many talented artistes who spoil their careers by dabbling in partisan politics.
The list of promising artistes who cut short their careers after they got enmeshed in politics of patronage is long. Maybe that indicates the extent of economic mess the country finds itself in. The economic rot has deepened to the extent of eating up at the very core of our society.
Artistes ought to be subtle in articulating political issues so that they don’t expose their allegiance to certain political parties.
Artistes by their very nature must be apolitical though they mirror society. If their music has political connotations, they should be ambiguous and leave the interpretation to fans. Anything apparent may have a devastating effect on their careers — the case of unintended effect. The artiste may be irredeemably ruined by a single song which associates their music with a certain political party that may not be the darling of the people.
This is the predicament which urban grooves pioneer, Rockford Josphat, popularly known as Roki, who collaborated with Congolese Rhumba maestro Koffi Olomide finds himself in after showering praises on President Emmerson Mnangagwa. Not that he should not do it. It’s his right after all. Only that it may backfire. Remember he is trying to resuscitate his career and politics is no-go area for any musician worth noting.
That’s why Roki, a talented musician, has been on the receiving end since the release of the duet with Koffi titled Patati Patata, that extols the President. For Mnangagwa it’s a score given how the song has performed. Who wouldn’t like to be associated with success? Politicians also should support musicians when the chips are down.
While the Constitution guarantees Roki the right of association, it did not protect him from an avalanche of vitriol from some fans, who were piqued by his public show of allegiance to Mnangagwa and ruling Zanu PF party.
Roki is accused of having sipped from a poisoned chalice.
Given that he had been down and out musically, Roki desperately needed a chance to resurrect his career and a collaboration with Koffi was the perfect opium.
The song has busted music charts and broken social media view records since its release, raising the bar for Roki, who has just emerged from the woods. Patati Patata has been the talk of the country and is enjoying airplay despite being criticised left, right and centre.
We believe Roki should play it neutral although sadly, he unwittingly entangled himself in politics.
Our musicians should realise that it takes a single moment to destroy a career built over years. We hope that Roki has learnt and artistes of like mind will take a leaf from his experience.
It is an open secret that any political party worth its salt, including Zanu PF, which is already in election mode, as 2023 harmonised elections draw near, will dangle the carrot to local and foreign artistes to campaign for it.
So, we urge our artistes not to delve into the perilous political waters.