By Harriet Chigege
In July 2009 hopes that dictator Robert Mugabe would be retiring were thwarted after the party’s Midlands Province Coordinating Committee made a resolution that endorsed the 85 year old as ZANU PF’s Supreme Leader. Good enough as far as ZANU PF is concerned but Viomak has refused to be sidelined.
To show her resentment, on 21 February 2010 in celebration of the Supreme Leader‘s 86th birthday, the queen of protest music will release her 6th protest music album to mark the life president’s destructive rule. She will honour the military Supreme Leader with a highly entertaining album that was approached in a completely different manner compared to her previous albums. Armed with a unique form of musical expression freedom spanning a period of five years the political activist–cum-protest singer continues to grace the political crisis in Zimbabwe through a unique musical journey that has seen her remain the only woman protest singer in Zimbabwe who is managing to tackle the political crisis through music intervention.
“Protest music is a necessity in troubled undemocratic societies and it deserves to find its way out of the dark corridors and climb into the limelight since it is a great tool in building democratic societies”. Viomak said.
As she continues to milk her way out of the backyard the banned but determined singer-songwriter for the first time gives credit to Mugabe for managing to celebrate a pile of birthdays whilst the life expectancy rate of Zimbabweans continues to deteriorate. For the first time also Viomak has named one song on the album Supreme Leader which is also the album title. Her traditional Mugabe birthday albums never had an album title track.
In respect of the president’s newly acquired title the album hosts 8 songs for the Supreme Leader and a ninth song Chinja maitiro (Change your ways) ,which she added on the album to help her spearhead the campaign to have MDC GNU leaders declare their personal assets to combat corruption and unaccountable leadership. The popular MDC slogan Chinja maitiro is this time used to ask MDC leaders to change their ways. The MDC party uses the slogan to ask Zimbabweans to change their ways and vote for MDC and Viomak is saying Zimbabweans have changed the way they vote now it is time for the MDC to change the Zimbabwean way of leadership which is characterized by lawlessness, corruption, incompetence and evilness. She asks MDC to lead in the right way by being accountable and transparent.
One of the most exciting songs on the album is of course Supreme Leader. Viomak is hoping that since the song endorses Mugabe’s newly acquired title it will be allowed radio airplay in Zimbabwe. As far as I can see maybe the song was going to be allowed airplay had she not asked God why Zimbabweans are innocent jail birds under Mugabe’s rule. Viomak also reminds Mugabe (who she refers to as Matibili), that his mavhaivhai (showing off) will come to pass as she mentions that the disgraced leader is a koronyera (dangerous crook) and a guruvha (rogue) .This should not put Mugabe and his supporters off balance since they have a long history of thuggish behaviour. They will obviously not accept it since such kind of lyrics are degrading to the Supreme Leader.
Vakadyei (What did you eat?) is another scorcher. The song sarcastically applauds Mugabe for being a life warrior who keeps going with no signs of stopping anytime soon. In a celebratory manner Viomak asks Mugabe what he ate that keeps him strong. The exhaustive and exciting beat adds a Zimbabwean flavour to the song. If Mugabe chooses to listen to the song with no unnecessary antagonism I think it is a great complimentary song that he should appreciate. Even though the song praises the failed ruler for being a death champion it might never be played on state radio unless Viomak changes some of the lyrics which sarcastically question if Mugabe had eaten stones to remain strong, whilst asking the president to give us the stones so we can also eat and prolong our life spans.
“This is a great time for the Supreme Leader who is managing to dodge death whilst Zimbabweans are dying of starvation and disease in the hands of an uncaring and incompetent government.” said Viomak.
The instrumental of the song is playing on her websites. By the way she has two websites running now all because of the viruses that have been invading her old site.
The song Usiku hwekutambisa (Wasted night) will obviously offend the Supreme Leader. The verses of the song are something that Mugabe would not love to hear and the choruses come in to remind the president that he is a wasted night. Sampling the album I found this track to be extremely danceable with a deep meaning that will definitely give Viomak’s listeners moments of sadness and laughter.
The lyrics on most of the songs are sweet nothings for the Supreme Leader as Viomak takes him on a merry go round only to leave him hanging in the middle of the revolution when her lyrics suddenly turn from sweet to sour. Sour in the sense that anything that despises the Supreme Leader is sour to the leader and his supporters. The lyrics are very relaxed and easy going but they come with a lot of controversy and truth. Her enjoyable mix of controversial lyrics keeps her music above the norm as her verse to chorus writing style remains in all the songs. Musically this means Viomak is managing to reveal the unsung side of the Zimbabwean music industry.
Supreme Leader also sees Viomak continue to embrace her high position on the protest movement culture in Zimbabwe allowing herself to remain as gate keeper in the protest music territory where some protest musicians like Raymond Majongwe are reported to have quit the game preferring to become just musicians.
The protest singer who says she has no plans to depart from protest music also finished writing two extra politically charged albums Good Nonsense Unearthed (GNU) and ZANU DC (ZANU PF + MDC). The albums which are tightly packed in truth and humour will not be good to MDC-T’s ears. Two songs of great interest on the albums are Nharembozha(Cellphone) and Ndiye akauraya (He is the one who killed).To those who have been following the news coming from Zimbabwe your guesses on what she will be singing about on these songs are most likely right.
“We should free our lips from voice slavery. We can’t keep having an incompetent mess of bad leaders running the country and keep our lips sealed as if all is good. The spirit of protest music should therefore be preserved and respected and all bad politicians should be put to shame artistically.” she said.
With themes far from the usual there’s no doubt this soon to be released album delivers essential music that is defined by serious political issues. The music will largely bless protest music lovers and will remain a great asset to genuine patriots.
The other songs on the album include Uchaisepi, Mbiri, Mhosva, Hapana mutsvene and Yapidiguka. More about these tracks after the official release.
Will Viomak ever sing music that will not make her a musical criminal according to Mugabe’s unjust laws? She said yes. After meeting Zimbabwean cartoonist Tony Namate in Norway as they attended the Global Forum on Freedom of Expression in June 2009, the cartoonist suggested to her that she produces music that speaks on women issues. She agreed.
“Instead of also singing about the socio-political issues that affect them many women musicians in Zimbabwe have chosen to concentrate on Godly tunes only forgetting that there are earthly issues that have to be resolved before we see heaven. You can’t keep singing about God only when the man in your house is raping your daughter. ” She said.
In respect of Namate’s request which Viomak took seriously she just finished writing two more albums which are dedicated to Zimbabwe women and Zimbabwe girls namely Hello Women and Child Abuse. The albums carry her from a political to a social activist and not a gender activist. To those who have listened to her political albums’ lyrics just rewind and imagine her type of lyrics shifted to women and child abuse issues. The song paedophile on the Child Abuse album is one striking example of a song that will deter some adults from raping children.
“The two albums will give Zimbabwe women and girls the respect they deserve and will place them at the top of the roof and not under the door mat where most of them reside.”Said Viomak.
The social consequences are going to be huge .On top of that Viomak is going to be the first woman musician to tackle women and girls’ issues head on artistically. Her protest music is currently talking and the women albums will be talking and preaching. More about the albums after the release of Happy 86th Birthday President R.G Matibili (Supreme Leader).I remain to see if the singer who has successfully thrived in a spirit of political music controversy will thrive in a spirit of social music controversy.