Mafirakureva: Winky D’s voice against the tide

Winky D's activism extends beyond music. He's faced criticism and even violence for his work

WHEN Winky D released Mafirakureva, meaning "who he dies for telling the truth, regardless of consequences," he knew he was treading on unfamiliar territory, hence the title of the song.

 The song addressed the rampant issue of drug abuse among Zimbabwean youth, including substances like "bronco," "mbanje" (cannabis), and illicit brews.

His criticism sparked outrage. News outlets portrayed a negative reaction from "ghetto youths,". Even a local daily newspaper published an article which carried a screaming headline, "Winky D angers ghetto youths", the very community Winky D aimed to help. Ironically, these same youths are now the most affected by drug abuse, and some artists who initially criticized the song have come forward seeking help.

One artist, Seh Calaz, accused Winky D of exploiting the issue for financial gain. He questioned Winky D's motives, suggesting the song was a ploy to land an endorsement deal.

"Now that he is into advertising he has made his money he starts to disrespect the ghetto youths that made him.

“We are not even sure if that is a song meant to advise us or it is his way of getting another endorsement deal.

“His Mafirakureva message, we have no idea if it's rooted from love or out to get another ambassadorial deal with the NGOs funding anti-drug abuse campaigns,” Seh Calaz was quoted in the media, back in 2013.

Fast forward to today — the tide has turned. Artists like Takura, Saintfloew, Delroy Shewe, and Blot are openly discussing their struggles with drug abuse. The late Soul Jah Love's battle with crystal meth tragically highlights the song's relevance.

Last year, the government declared war on drug dealers and consumers, with an operation, which is dubbed “No to Dangerous Drugs and Illicit Substances: See Something, Say Something”,  geared towards flushing out drug cartels responsible for distributing illicit substances such as crystal methamphetamine, marijuana and illegal cough syrups.

At the Sunshine City Festival, Winky D addressed the changed landscape. He emphasised that the same issue he was "persecuted" for a decade ago was now openly discussed, it was now fashionable to do so. He highlighted the pressure artists face when speaking out against social ills.

"Back  in 2013, I talked about drug abuse and there was massive backlash from the consumers of the music and fellow artists," he said.

"But now we are in 2024 and everyone is talking about drug abuse, because it's fashionable to say so. Back then it had serious reperccussions, so everybody wanted to be in a safe corner."

Winky D further encrypted his message to insinuate that drug abuse is a microcosm of a bigger problem.

He suggests, he is currently advocating for another unpopular cause. This reinforces his commitment to speaking truth to power, regardless of consequences.

"So today in 2024, I stand for something, even if it's unfashionable, that's what I stand for and that's what I believe," he added.

"I'm not provoking anyone,  watch them 10 years from now. That is what (youths) will be representing. We always see from a distance, we are many miles away far from everybody," he declared.

Winky D's activism extends beyond music. He's faced criticism and even violence for his work. His song Ka Song ke Jecha reportedly led to clashes with the ruling party (Zanu PF) and even a ban on his music on state-controlled media.

Zanu PF's director of Information Farai Marapira even described Winky D as a politician rather than a musician who was causing alarm and despondency.

Some artists who are linked to the ruling Zanu PF are openly attacking Winky D and labelling him a sellout, who is being used by foreign forces.

Winky D emerges as a courageous voice for social justice, unafraid to challenge authority and advocate for positive change.


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