Clive Malunga


Zimbabwe ‘s national youth policy wishes “to instill in youth a clear sense of national identity and an awareness of, respect for, and active commitment to the principles and values enshrined in the Constitution of Zimbabwe ” (Youth Council Amendment Act  No. 16 of 1997). Music, is one of the tools to be used for the preservation of  our norms, moral values and culture and the promotion of national identity. The music played by local artists must portray national values and ethos. Musicians must be positive role models who should inspire the youth to keep our values and maintain our identity as Zimbabweans. I have noticed that Zimdancehall music is receiving a lot of airplay on many radio stations of our country. This is in spite of the fact that most Zimdancehall songs have vulgar lyrics.  The Broadcasting Services Act Chapter [12:06], gives the responsibility to broadcasters to ensure that material given airplay conforms to the norms and values of the nation. I sometimes wonder whether the sexually explicit chants and crude incitement to drugs that we hear in some Zimdancehall songs is a portrayal of our culture.  I urge the broadcasting authorities to seriously carry out their mandate and block out culturally unpalatable songs from our airwaves for the protection of our children and future.  I also challenge Zimdancehall artists themselves to reinvent their genre and make it cleaner by desisting from smoking marijuana and singing songs that deprecate our values and standards. I agree that Zimdancehall artists have a right to express their thoughts, opinions and feelings as guaranteed in our constitution.  But, they can surely do so in a morally upright manner.  I have noted that most Zimdancehall artists are fly-by- night artists who lack seriousness and hence their recklessness. Because they lack the vision to stay long in national musical landscape,they can chant anything as long as what they chant rhymes. Some of them just sing vulgar lyrics and engage in drugs to court controversy and get publicity.  Strong regulation is required to ensure that children are not exposed to vulgarities. Dance hall music was popularised in Zimbabwe by Trevor Hall and Cedric Steele who emigrated into this country from Jamaica. I have observed that many youths of Zimbabwe ‘s urban areas find great entertainment value in this type of music. However, I take great exception when the genre is associated with, and tends to promote the vices of prostitution and drug abuse. I urge my fellow artists to borrow only the good from a foreign genre and leave out  the harmful things like weed smoking. Even in Jamaica where dance hall music originated, the Broadcasting Commission of Jamaica introduced some strong censorship of the genre to bring to a stop the use of vulgar lyrics (Freemuse: 2014). Songs which contain obscenities cannot be played on television or radio in Jamaica. The same must apply here. We have to jealously guard our culture and preserve our identity as a people. One of the negative offshoots of dancehall music is the use of the name ” Yahweh” when musicians of that genre greet each other. Yahweh is God’s name and vainly throwing it around like that is blasphemous. We must have high reverence for the Most High as a nation. Musicians of all genres of music must lead the way or we may suffer collective punishment as a nation for daring to play with God’s holy name. I do not mean to antagonize fellow musicians but I have observed a worrying trend where some musicians take one step too many by using God’s name as their stage names even though they are not gospel singers. I wonder how it feels for a musician to call himself/ herself Jah Signal , Soul Jah Love, Jah Master,Man Soul Jah, Jah Prayzah  to mention but a few! No doubt, this cast includes some of Zimbabwe ‘s most talented musicians. Whatever their intentions, I think including God’s name in their stage names is going too far. Jah is a shortcut name of Jehovah. Jehovah has so many names which are exclusively his. Musicians should do their research and think seriously before crowning themselves with names which are holy. We want to be a nation with dignity and which shows reverence to our Lord.  Contrary to the instruction of Christ in Matthew 10:8 where he categorically states that  ‘Freely you have received, freely you must give’, some gospel preachers and gospel musicians are merchandising and commercializing God’s word. As I see it, many (if not all) gospel artists seem to have abandoned the precepts upon which the church is founded in brazen  pursuit of economic interests in the name of preaching the gospel. If gospel music is primarily for evangelism, then it must be provided to members of the public free of charge.. Selling gospel music necessarily excludes those who have no money to buy the music from consuming the gospel message.   Yet as already alluded to, the Bible clearly states that God’s gospel is not for sale and must reach all people. When gospel music was introduced as a saleable commodity, the argument was that musicians were incurring huge costs in the production of the music. Therefore, (as the argument went), the product should defray the expenses of the production stages. At one time I approached the permanent secretary in the Ministry of Industry and Commerce, Mr Mashingaidze, offering Jenaguru Music Studio free of charge to all gospel musicians. I still offer my studio free of charge to all gospel musicians for they have the important duty to disseminate the gospel to the world, on condition that they will distribute the music free of charge. The gospel must be free to all citizens of the earth.  All people with discernment can see that the manipulation of the gospel for the purpose of material enrichment has now reached alarming levels and is played out in several ways by gosprenuers ( a term coined to describe business-minded gospel preachers). Their methods include manipulating the gospel message, divination ( in the name of prophecy), subtle threats, healings and selling of religious products.  People are cajoled, persuaded and  deceived into buying wrist bands, anointed stickers, holy water,  holy soaps, anointing oil, anointed candles, magical handkerchiefs, anointed pens and pencils and blessed bricks. Many times occultic means are employed to manipulate people to unwillingly donate their houses, cars and vast sums of money to the preachers. Actors and actresses are now hired to fake miracles  in front of  completely perplexed  congregations. Often the fake miracles are beamed on satellite television to reach a wider audience in anticipation of a bigger catch.  Every church goer should know the story of how Jesus was angry with the religious leaders of his time for exploiting religious pilgrims for economic gain. He angrily drove the traders out of the temple accusing them of turning the temple into a den of robbers. God’s house, the church, must not be desecrated and turned into a den of thieves under our watch as musicians. Musicians should sing and educate the public about such religious malpractices. Our music must expose economic manipulators who conveniently pose as prophets.  I would also want to encourage all those who sing gospel for fun to stop doing so. Gospel  music should  be strictly to praise God, thank God and to inform and educate people so that we become  a holy nation. Silly antics must be played outside the revered arena which requires utmost respect. As a Christian nation, we cannot be at the forefront of bringing disrepute to the church. The Zimbabwe Union of Musicians must also organise workshops to discuss such issues. I believe discussing the issues I have raised in this article is part of the broader goal of determining our destiny; a sacred duty we cannot delegate to anyone but ourselves. 

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