Wednesday, 28 September 2011
Zimbabwe is like a holed bucket because of corruption
‘Zanu-PF haina ma-enemies but it is its own enemy. Dambudziko riri mumba mavo saka President vakagadzirisa vana vavo hapana chokutya.’
Chipanga says Zimbabwe does not need political parties to solve its problems today but thinkers and honest people. ‘As politicians, we have failed and what is needed now are people of substance to stand behind the President. Zimbabwe is a rich country. There is enough for everybody. We should all be living comfortably here. But because of corruption, Zimbabwe is now like a bucket with'a holed bottom. No matter how much we work hard, ordinary people's lives would not change for the better.'
Who exactly is Hosiah Chipanga?
He’s been called madman, musician, prophet
Who exactly is Hosiah Chipanga? Is he a madman, a musician or a prophet? Does he believe in his music or he makes it for the money?
"Ndiri parwendo basa rangu harisi rokuimba. Ndiri muparidzi anoshandisa music as a way of reaching out to the people," Chipanga said, mixing vernacular and English - typical of VaManyika.
Today, he can safely say this, but when Chipanga started his musical career, his dance and lyrics that were considered contradictory made people mock and call him bad names.
Many asked how a normal human being would sing about the beerhall as an innocent place. They also asked how such a man would sing about bringing Jesus Christ to court to answer to charges of deserting people when they needed Him most.
They also wanted to know this man, who danced as if he was stepping on live embers and when they could not get an answer, Chipanga was dismissed as a madman.
‘I was a madman to the people because they had not seen the importance and depth of my music. The lyrics did not mean anything to them. Take for example the song Hove Dzemugungwa that I sang in 1992 - some 13 years back. It says much about what is happening today. But then people did not understand what I meant.
‘That is why they ended saying zvake uyu hazvitevedzerwe," Chipanga, who claims to receive messages from Musikavanhu (God), explained.
The album Zvichandibatsirei that spawned Hove Dzemugungwa carries another equally prophetic song titled Cost of Living.
"Sometimes I think I should have released my old songs today because they are still very relevant," he added.
Hove Dzemugungwa is about problems that affect everyone regardless of social status and age.
Because of a communication gap, Chipanga was a lonely voice in the wilderness for years until a few people realised that his music had a message. The lyrics seemed to strike right into their hearts.
It was essentially music that spoke about their problems.
Most of Chipanga's songs articulate the causes of disempowerment, bitterness, incest, homosexuality, artificiality, retrenchment, social decadence and a whole host of other problems that affect people today.
‘Thus Shinda Isina Tsono, Pasi Rinso Raipa, Mombe Yevhu, Kwachu Kwachu, Makomborero, Ivhu redu Nderipi, Ndafunga Zano (Ndagaya) and many others brought Chipanga from the wilderness into the homes of many people.
To them he was now a competent musician whose message was strong and meant for the voiceless.
“People are now looking for solutions to solve problems they created in the first place. My music comes in as part of the solutions. I ask questions that concern people.
“In 'Ivhu Redu Nderipi?,' I sing about the most precious gift from Musikavanhu. Man was created from earth and water. But what does it mean for a municipality to sell land and water? Isn't it like selling human fresh?
“This has caused all the problems we are facing today. Mutare can go without water for days yet Pungwe River is taking water to Mozambique.
“What I want to know is the wholesale price municipalities pay for taking water from Pungwe River or Hunyani Dam.
“I also want to know the wholesale price they pay for land.
“The truth is that poverty can never be alleviated unless water and land are given free of charge. Our problems are not about money.
“Money cannot buy us everything. A good example is now when people cannot get what they want despite having large sums of money in their pockets and banks.
“We are fighting against nature and as long as we do not realise this, our problems will persist,” he claims.
But can he really say he is a prophet?
"I communicate with Musikavanhu. I forewarn people about problems just like what Noah did when he built his ark years before the great flood came, long before there were signs of rains.
"My songs talk about symptoms. The kind of knowledge I have cannot be taught at universities.
Chipanga says beer if left in a bottle does not affect anyone.
"Beerhalls do not 'visit' people but people go to beerhalls. That is the same with food. It is what you do with food or beer afterwards.
“In the case, munhu chete ndiye aneproblem. All our problems are man-made. Of course, there are other natural disasters like Cyclone Eline, which are attributable to Musikavanhu. We have no solutions to these, but I have solutions to all our problems.
"If it was possible, I would open a workshop for solving people’s problems,” Chipanga proffered.
I work with God – Chipanga
It’s not every day that a Head of State can acknowledge the work of a musician, whose lyrics border on what others would call controversy and anti-establishment.
It is not every day that a musician can deliver his concerns in a polite and constructive manner.
Again, it is not every day that a society can have honest musicians who see and sing about a country's problems without fear or favour.
So when Hosiah Chipanga, who calls himself Mutumwa waMwari, started singing about Shinda Isina Tsono, Zvichandibatsirei and others, no matter how telling those songs were, the society dismissed him as another good-for-nothing musician trying to eke out a living.
When they saw him leaping about in his white shoes, some in the same society considered him comical.
And for years, the "madman" wailed in the "wilderness" without anyone noticing and caring because he was like any other poverty-stricken musician until about two years ago when the voiceless identified him as their spokesman.
But the voiceless, powerless, as they are could only listen and so the ‘madman’, had to wail and stomp spme more without any recognition until this February when he was approached to sing at President Robert Mugabe's birthday bash in Mutare.
‘I was an idling engine now I am running,’ Chipanga remarked soon after performing at the Independence gala held at the Harare International Conference Centre on Monday night.
Explaining how he composed the song, which takes a swipe at corrupt members of the society, Chipanga said:
‘I was asked on a Wednesday to sing at the 'President's party. I was also asked to compose a special song for the occasion. Since I was not prepared, I was dumb-struck.
‘But I remembered a vision in which I had seen the President sitting alone and I had cried for him. I realised that there was something wrong. Ndakati zvangu President vari patight.
‘I knew then that the vision was the answer to the special song and I told myself that it was my job to let him know about people who have brought suffering to the nation by their crooked ways, people who surround him."
The song Chipanga had in mind is the famous but unrecorded Gushungo (Havana Chavanotadza) that takes a dig at those who purport to represent the President when in actual fact they are making misrepresentations and taking advantage of his generosity and trust.
‘Zanu-PF haina ma-enemies but it is its own enemy. Dambudziko riri mumba mavo saka President vakagadzirisa vana vavo hapana chokutya.’
Chipanga says Zimbabwe does not need political parties to solve its problems today but thinkers and honest people.
‘As politicians, we have failed and what is needed now are people of substance to stand behind the President.
‘Zimbabwe is a rich country. There is enough for everybody. We should all be living comfortably here.
‘But because of corruption, Zimbabwe is now like a bucket with'a holed bottom. No matter how much we work hard, ordinary people's lives would not change for the better.
‘The song calls on the President to check the leaking bottom because there are people here who own more than what they need. How can one person own 10 or more properties as if he has 10 souls?
‘Tiri kutambura because hatina njere. Njere dzinodiwa iko zvino hadzisi dzeku-university kana ku-college but from God. The President needs men who are honest.
‘This is probably why the President is finding it difficult to quit because there is no one to fill the void. The power he has is not just electoral but spiritual. Hapana substitute kwayo saka chokuita hapana, so the President will be in the game for a while longer," Chipanga said, his voice breaking with emotion.
Chipanga, who declares Zimbabwe can never be a colony again, explained that when he composed the song Zvandakarota, he had had a vision in which the whites were trying to return to the country.
‘We fought for the land. It is ours. But why are we being sold the land when it should be given for free? Nature is angry with us for this because it is like selling us our own flesh.
‘That is the same with water. Why are we paying for what nature gives us free of charge? As long as people do not have free land and water, no matter how many aeroplanes they own, in real sense, they own nothing."
Recalling the day before he performed in Mutare, Chipanga laughed nervously saying: ‘"During rehearsals in the presence of offiicials from the National Arts Council of Zimbabwe, one of my cockerels came closer when I was singing and every time I sang out the words "Gushungo vane 'munyama" it crowed. Then one of the people asked me whether I would take the cock along to the stadium."
Then on the day of the performance, Chipanga was supposed to entertain the people after the President's speech but he was asked to go on stage first.
"I was not sure how the President would take the message in the song but I was not afraid because I was not lying. I was not singing to please anyone," Chipanga, who now resides in Chitungwiza, said adding that although people do not believe, he composes all his songs in tears.
"I have direct access to God and all my songs are inspired by visions."
After the performance, Chipanga said, he realised he had detonated a bomb when residents of Mutare told him that he had been singing about some people who sat beside the President during the celebrations.
"I am not afraid of anyone. Once in Mutare, some people were sent to beat me up but they came and confessed about the plan. I work with God. He is the reason why people are now waking up to my messages.
"Even the President's acceptance of my song 'is not because I am good, but God has spoken.” Maybe, Chipanga is right as shown by the lyrics of the song below.
Gushungo vane munyama!
Kupuwa mhosva isiri yavo I
Zvinhu zvaoma moti Gushungo matirasa'
Gushungo vanopa, njere ndodzatisina
Pawaiba mari kubhanga
Wakange watumwa nani?
Hupfu muchitengesa KuMozambique
Wakange watumwa nani?
Chibage, sugar kutengesa kuZambia
Wakange watumwa nani?
Dhiziri wopuhwa wotengesa
Wakange watumwa nani?
Mapurazi mashanu mashanu
Wakange wapuwa nani?
Gushungo vanopa, njere ndodzatisina.
I have met and spoken to Hosiah Chipanga on several occasions but one meeting stands out clearly in my mind. It was the day he came to Herald House on a Sunday in May 2007. I had done a review of his album Sahwira Wenyika.I was sorting out some pictures with one of the photographers in the dark room. He was ushered to where I was breathless. He had his trade mark black leather on and a viscose shirt underneath.
“Chikurubi toenda tose chete (We will go to Chikurubi together),” he said when he had sat down and rested. My heart broke and my mind spun.
“Chikurubi?” I asked him.With his head in his hands, he said, “Zvamakanyora nezuro iChikurubi chaiyo.”
Then I realised what he was talking about – the review! I remember the headline – it said Chipanga Tackles Thorny Issues in Jest. He had, somehow, got the hidden message in the review.
We laughed it off though but it set me thinking. There were times when such reviews would go into the paper without anyone noticing.
It was only later that I understood the whole scope of things. His music is not very well understood. But I knew that it would not be long before
somebody read between the lines.
And they did as shown by the story below about his music being banned from radio and TV.
Hosea Chipanga, the prominent and award winning Zimbabwean musician who was set to perform at the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU)-organised function at Gwanzura stadium today to mark Workers Day will not do so following anonymous threats on his life.
Chipanga yesterday phoned the organisers informing them about his withdrawal from the function. Speaking over the phone the ZCTU general secretary Wellington Chibhebhe told zimbabwejournalists.com he was disappointed by the politics of Zimbabwe that continue to make the poor workers suffer at the expense of protecting those in power.
“Chipanga had for the past days been receiving threats through his mobile phone and they had even gone physically to his place to warm him to refrain from performing at our functions,” said Chibhebhe. “This is purely dictatorship by Robert Mugabe and needs to be condemned in strongest terms. Chipanga is an artist and artists speak for the voiceless and therefore I feel Mugabe is restricting Chipanga to send the message to the people who desperately need it,” said Chibebe.
Last year the musician was quizzed by the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) and threatened for playing songs during a state-funded public gala suggesting President Robert Mugabe would only relinquish power through death.
Witnesses at the gala said CIO officers had for the umpteenth time warned the top-selling musician to refrain from his ‘anti-Mugabe songs’ and ordered him to forward to them a list of the songs he was scheduled to play at the next state musical gala in honour of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces.
The witnesses from other local bands, who witnessed Chipanga’s brush with the CIOs during the gala held in Kwekwe city to commemorate heroes of Zimbabwe’s 1970s independence war, said intelligence officers dragged the musician backstage and sternly warned him to stop being critical of Mugabe and his government or he and his music would be made to disappear.
Chipanga, who sings in Shona and whose music is laden with social and political messages, confirmed the CIO had confronted him about his music but downplayed the matter which he said had been resolved.
The song that appeared to have irked the state police the most was a track titled “Ndarota Mambo Afira Pachigaro”, which literally means “I dreamt the king had died on the throne”. In a thinly veiled reference to Mugabe, Chipanga sings of an ageing leader of an unnamed country, who vows to rule until he drops dead despite calls by his people to step down because of old age.
After being manhandled in Kwekwe by the CIO, Chipanga could this time not gamble with his life after the persistent threats so he will not perform at the May Day celebrations today.
In a rare display of bravado, the sungura music icon was at it again this year when he mustered the courage to take his crusade against the burgeoning rot obtaining in the country to the highest echelons of government. He sang against corruption in the government at a pre-Independence Day ball thrown for diplomats, the inner circle of President Robert Mugabe and other cherry-picked guests at the Harare International Conference Centre.
The performance by the sungura icon dispelled illusions that the top man presiding over the fate of the country was so insulated from his people that he was unaware of the unbecoming errant behaviour of his cabinet.
The langy musician from Manicaland took his crusade into overdrive with his song Kutendeuka, which is laced with lyrics lashing out at the self-serving reminders of the exploits of those in government in the liberation struggle.
After the reminders of what people on the grassroots level are feeling, Chipanga showed he had actually saved his best for the last in a new song, Gushungo, which opens with praises for President Mugabe who he said is lampooned for other people's sins.
Chipanga takes potshots at leaders privileged to access maize, flour and fuel among other essentials, but who prejudice the country by diverting these to the black market and other markets across the borders. Many such culprits have never been sent to prison, chief among them, Mugabe’s nephew, Leo Mugabe and his wife for allegedly smuggling flour out of the country.
Chipanga did not spare the greedy who have amassed for themselves multiple farms in breach of government's stated position and bankers who have since taken flight after their nefarious activities were exposed.
The musician, a rare breed in the face of a deteriorating economy, has been hailed as a voice for the voiceless. And it seems the state security agents could not bear him belting it out to thousands of workers at Gwanzura stadium, reminding them of their continued suffering under a corrupt and inept leadership in the country.
Chibebe said there was little he could at this eleventh hour to persuade Chipanga to come to the stadium since his life was more important.
“In normal circumstances we are supposed to sue Chipanga. We had a contract with him but he has been forced to breach by the regime and we had already paid part of his money to his account. However, this will not dampen our spirits to commemorate the May Day because we understand that it is not his own making but the regime’s,” added Chibebe.
Speaking from Harare Chipanga said: “I was supposed to perform at Gwanzura today but won’t be due to the threats I have been receiving through my phone. I’m not quiet sure who is phoning me but I have been phoned by three different voices warning me not to perform or else lose my life.”
“This is not the first time that I have performed at ZCTU organized functions but I’m wondering why these threats are coming to now. Though I know I would be safe during the performance my life would at stake afterwards this is why I have decided to withdraw.”
It is reported that the CIO told Chipanga at one stage that he would die for nothing if he continued playing anti-Mugabe music, let alone at government-sponsored galas.
“I think who ever had been phoning me meant every word when they asked me where was I losing it. I have heard these words before and they bring shivers to my spine, money is nothing but my life is worth more than everything else,” said Chipanga.
Other planned activities for May Day will go ahead as planned. For the past few years the day has turned from May Day celebrations to commemoration. "We are not in a mood to celebrate, Workers are under siege, and we need to organise, unite and fight on with workers' standards of living continuing to slide there is really nothing to celebrate,” said the ZCTU.
Mugabe and his government, wary of rising public discontent because of the worsening economic and political crisis in the country, have in the past few years been clamping on independent voices in the country and anyone perceived to be an enemy of the state.
The state-owned Zimbabwe Broadcasting Holdings, the only television and radio broadcaster in the country, has also banned music perceived as anti-government, especially music by one of the country’s music gurus, Thomas Mapfumo. – By Magugu Nyathi/zimbabwejournalist.com
As for Chipanga, one can expect such things. He is a jigsaw puzzle which I doubt anybody will ever put together.
Here is a man who claims to be a messiah, runs his own church and then sings about the most basic things. The issue of water for example where he says there is no water in Mutare yet there is a river nearby that flows water everyday. Even the housing stands issue where he says while municiplauties say they do not have space for the living, there is always some for the dead.
What he sings about is basic but true. He sees issues with the eye of a small boy. But then such simplicity does not consider practicality. Maybe this is where, while his music is interesting, Chipanga’s weakness is.
He reminds me of John Lennon after the disbandment of the Beatles when he declared his State of Utopia and addressed a press conference seeking UN recognition. According to John, Utopia was supposed to be a free state where there were no rules, no government just people living together in harmony and peace.
And Chipanga too spoke about forming a political party called Mapipi. Honestly, it makes one wonder whether he is real or fictitious.
What cannot be taken away from Chipanga is his big heart and open spirit. He sang during the Zanu-PF galas and this year he also attended the MDC-T anniversary at Gwanzura Stadium. Unlike Simon Chimbetu who declared his love for Zanu-PF, Chipanga is aware that as Zimbabweans, we should work together.
I have met him for one-on-one interviews three times in four years. Each time, I left more confused. For sure, Chipanga is some kwachu kwachu.
The first interview was in 2005
To say that he is one of the most misunderstood musicians in Zimbabwe is an understatement.
Even the word controversy does not fully justify his music and life styles since on his car – an old Peugeot Pick-up - are written the message: “We can all have our own houses if one man owned one house.
One cannot draw a line between his musical career and individuality. He is what his music is. And to cap it all, he believes that he is God sent to reach out to the millions of lost souls whose bodies languish in beerhalls, prisons and every other place where no salvation reaches them.
But Hosiah Chipanga, the gangling Mutare-based musician who sings gospel on a sungura tip and who recently was awarded the Best Sungura Artiste in the Zimbabwe Music Awards 2004, is such an artist who reaches out for such lost souls anywhere he sees them.
He sings in the beerhalls, at churches, for striking workers… in fact Chipanga fits anywhere and snugly too.
Whenever municipality workers in his hometown, Mutare go on strike, Chipanga spends time entertaining them.
“I perform for them in order to cool their tempers. I do not do so to incite them,” he defended himself.
“I am God’s messenger,” he told me. “I work for the people. And God has nothing to do with those who know him but those who are still lost. One cannot find the lost in church but in beerhalls and such other places.
“That is why I go there in order to sing for their salvation.”
It is not only where Chipanga sings for the people but the lyrics of his songs that show the substance he is made of.
Most of his lyrics are social commentaries against societal evils such as greedy, selfishness and the insensitivity.
In one of his songs he says: If you see how those who have money and power live/ the majority of us would not be alive if God forsakes us/ each one of them has ten houses/ how we the poor will manage to acquire houses of our own? / Their children have five jobs each/ and where are our children going to find jobs?
In another he sings that beerhalls and beer are innocent since they do not visit people but it’s the people who go to the beerhall and buy beer who are guilty.
“My habitation does not matter. It’s there in the scriptures that the gallant soldiers of truth should go to the outcasts as well. Once I have failed to convince and convert the patrons then I am a defeated force.
“I’ve never seen anything bad about beerhalls, but some bad people who frequent them are the ones who give it a distorted image. Some God fearing people can be found in them. And the opposite can also be the case in churches,” he said.
In yet another he rebukes those who destroy public property that was put in order to make their lives simpler and safer.
He has his own way of looking at things and what appears to be normal to all of us today is not normal to him.
Take for example the prevalent use of English by black pastors when ministering to an all-black congregation that understands vernacular languages. To him, the use of English adds more blessings to the whites because when God hears English he thinks it’s the whites who
are praying more than the blacks.
In an interview with this writer soon after he had been awarded the controversial award, Chipanga said that it did not matter to him how his people described his music and what they say about his method of preaching.
“Whatever they say, my music is bigger than any other type of music. Christians know that I am a good preacher as well as musician. Non-Christians too know that I can dance better to their type of music,” he boasted.
His type of dance is has earned him the nickname the Running Man since he appears to be running.
“I used to perform this dance at studios back in the late 70s. Now I merge the jive with my music and the result is entertaining my audience whilst at the same time they get the Lord’s message,” he explained.
He added: “Most of my songs have a fast rhythm, but the message is about good things. I also use my art of dancing to capture the spirit of my audience,” he added.
Originally a member of the Johanne Marange Apostolic Sect, Chipanga announced that he would found his own church – the Church of God Kingdom on Earth that would double as a social welfare organisation.
Chipanga does not care what pastors and any other such people say about him.
Chipanga believes that an album alone cannot fully accord him all the time he needs to minister to his fans.
“I have too much at heart to convey and share with my fans, but I find that I cannot condense all of it on a record. Holding on to some of these messages may sometimes mean changing the intended message altogether since, like poetry, music has that touch which can easily be lost if delayed,” he was quoted saying some years ago.
Chipanga who is among the top selling artists in his recording stable, Record and Tape Promotions in Harare started his career in the 1970s as a dancer in Mutare.
Then he joined the Livestock Band with which he played before moving to join another band, the Black Diamond from Rusape (a small mining town near Mutare).
When he finally decided to come to Harare, Chipanga formed his own group, the Broadway Sounds with which he still plays today and has released 16 albums, half of which have turned gold.
In 2007 I interviewed Chipanga again at his Chitungwiza home. He had just relocated back from Kutare. The Peugeot had gone and in its place was a maroon 4X4. He was lodging close to Makoni Shopping Centre.
We sat by the car while we went through his new album then especially the song Gushungo. His sentiments were that Zimbabweans do not understand and appreciate what is good. We also discussed Sahwira Wenyika and he said that as a musician, it was his duty to bring together political parties together. He does, he told me, understand why people fight each other.
“Zanu-PF and MDC supporters are neighbours. They are brothers and sisters. Why fight?” He asked.
He also said, I recall, said there was enough for everyone to share only if people can be less greedy.
But there was something he could not real come out clean – is he a prophet?
And then came his other idea of forming a political party!
See the story below
Hosia Chipanga, a popular sungura musician has confessed that he wanted to join the presidential racer in the March harmonised elections. Chipanga only decided to call it quits when he failed to follow all necessary channels to be in the competion as he thought were very undemocratic.
Having failed to make it into the race, which eventually pitted four candidates — President Robert Mugabe, Morgan Tsvangirai, Simba Makoni and Langton Towungana — Chipanga now wants the existing political parties to merge and form one party.
He suggests the party be called MAPIPI — which stands for the Modern African People's Institute of Political Independence which will be God driven and have its roots in the people. www.herald.co.zw accesed 19 July 2008
"I wanted to contest as a presidential candidate during the March presidential elections. In fact, I tasked my lawyers to make an application for me," he said.
Chipanga started seeking legal guidance on the 2008 Presidential election in September last year, according to the correspondence he had with his legal practitioners, C Mutsahuni Chikore and Partners.
The Chitungwiza-based sungura artiste only decided against contesting at the beginning of this year when he was advised of the legal requirement that his nomination papers had to be signed by 10 supporters from each of the country's 10 provinces.
Chipanga feels the requirement is autocratic, binding and repressive.
"I felt this requirement was one way of trying to bar prospective candidates from entering the race. I decided not to pursue it further because I felt it was very binding.
"Naturally, as you all know, I have more than just one 'supporter' in each and every province of the country because when I hold my shows there, many people attend my shows and these could have easily signed my application," said Chipanga.
He added that this was not the first time that he had dabbled in politics.
"I was a politician first before I became a musician, but if I tell this to people they won't believe it.
"It started on September 13 in 1977 when I had a vision in which I was told to change the world, just like the Biblical John the Baptist.
"The first and closest political organisation that I formed was called the Organisation for International Peace and those who were there then might remember the time I was arrested by members of the CIO."
For many a Zimbabwean, Chipanga's political ambitions will be dismissed as a joke but he claims to have solutions to all the problems the country is currently facing.
"I wanted to show people the kind of leadership that is divine and God-inspired. All the suffering and problems that people the world over are going through is a result of lack of Godly wisdom. I tell you, I hold the keys to all these problems and I am willing to share them for our nation's good if I am approached.
"I don't have anything against any political party or leader and that is why I sang the song Sahwira Wenyika in which I am urging the ruling party and the opposition to come together as brothers," Chipanga said.
Despite missing out on the 2008 election, Chipanga — who is currently working on a new album — said he has decided to start "laying the groundwork now" ahead of the next presidential elections. – tellzimbabwe.blogspot.com
Now who can we say Chipanga is? It borders on the insane – sorry though.