Suddenly, it is December again! Indeed, time flies. With the blink of an eye, 2017 is already on its back with all the events that took place in the year!
IN THE GROOVE WITH FRED ZINDI
I am not sure whether it is through the grace of God or it is due to musicians being able to take care of themselves better, but this year the Almighty has given us a reprieve as only a few musicians passed on compared to previous years. We sincerely regret the passing on this year of Afro-pop musician Reason Makurumidze who died in Karoi in a car accident and gospel musician Olinda Marowa’s husband and manager, Michael Mufaro Ziwenga who also died in 2017 from natural causes.
However, to the majority of Zimbabweans, the most devastating death of a musician happened on June 16 this year. This was that of musician and liberation war hero, Cde Chinx, who most people thought, due to his liberation struggle status, would be buried at the national shrine.
There is no reason to rejoice that only three musicians died this year. We are not happy at all that they died and we should continue to advocate for zero tolerance to death. Whatever we do, we still need to play it safe as death is one dull and dreary affair. My advice to anybody is to have nothing whatsoever to do with it.
Let me give you my first warning! You might think that now Christmas is around the corner, it is now time to act stupid.
No it’s not! Yes, people like to be festive, but as you know, every December and January, our hospitals are full to the limit with accident victims. Do not become one of them! Inevitably, this often involves the consumption of copious quantities of alcohol which in turn leads to impaired judgement and booze-inspired acts of bravado that all too often have tragic results.
Local gospel artists, Pastor Charles and Olivia Charamba, who are Zimbabwe’s Traffic Safety ambassadors, have also given a warning to the public in their song, Musatyaire Makadhakwa.
The song advises drivers to make sure they adhere to road regulations and improve safety on the country’s roads during the festive season.
That aside, although I am not privy to the reasons why the Robert Mugabe government did not declare Dick Chingaira aka Comrade Chinx a national hero, musicians I have spoken to and thousands of other people want the new dispensation to reconsider this position and exhume his body from Glen Forest Cemetery and have it re-buried at the national shrine because he deserves to be among the gallant fighters who sacrificed their lives for the liberation of Zimbabwe.
The thousands who attended his burial at Glen Forest cemetery were disappointed by the decision taken by the then government not to declare him a national hero. I am sure if this change of heart by the President Emmerson Mnangagwa-led government takes place, the people’s spirits will be lifted.
The death of a great musician can create a collective sense of loss and nostalgia. It gives the feeling that an era has passed. It is in this regard that I pay my tribute to Cde Dick “Chinx” Chingaira, to honour and remember him for his contribution not only to Zimbabwe’s vibrant music , but also for his role in the liberation of Zimbabwe.
Last week, I was trying to raise this issue with special advisor to the president, Christopher Mutsvangwa, but we kept postponing talking about it as he was overwhelmed with both government and party business, first with the central committee meetings and secondly with the just-ended Zanu PF special congress.
Perhaps the timing was wrong, but I am positive that the government, especially Mnangagwa, will look at this matter favourably. If an affirmative decision is made in this regard, there is no doubt that thousands will throng Heroes’ Acre to once more bid their farewell to Cde Chinx when he is laid to rest in his proper and well-deserved resting place.
Cde Chinx was a voice of the liberation struggle. He gave Zanla fighters morale and encouragement during the liberation war.
He was a unifier, a motivator and a brave soldier. He risked his life as he dodged bullets going from one camp to another singing motivational songs for the gallant fighters. His songs also encouraged the recruitment of young people to join the liberation struggle. He evaded death providing the much-needed morale boost to the liberation fighters at the bases.
It is also his songs that gave the courage and verve for Zimbabwe’s sons and daughters to defeat the enemy. They raised the spirits to liberate Zimbabwe. He spent sleepless nights giving the unwavering support to the fighters.
After independence, he continued to sing. We got to know some of his list of endless revolutionary songs such as Maruza Imi, Zvikomborero, Rusununguko, Roger Confirm and Vanhu Vese Vemuno MuAfrica.
Every year during independence celebrations and national galas, his voice ruled supreme.
Cde Chinx is a short name for Chingaira who was born in Rusape on September 27 1955. He died on June 16 2017. He attended Chigora Primary School in the Makoni District of Rusape.
I first met Comrade Chinx in 1982 just after Independence when he had teamed up with Bennie Miller and Keith Farquharson for the recording of Ngorimba, Zvikomborero and Nerudo. He called his band Barrel of Peace. I remember posing this question to him;
”You claim to be a revolutionary, so how do you reconcile your stance against whites when you are now recording with these white guys ?” His response was very philosophical and I still have his exact words written down:
“We were fighting for freedom from white oppression. Now that we are free, we don’t have to fight the whites any more but to build up a relationship with them.
This music, you know, it’s a transition, right from liberation music up to the music for development and reconciliation.
At the present moment we have got this unity. We want it so much and we want to develop our country and to develop our country, we must be reconciled fully. And all my music should touch on these lines. The way I do it is I have to say where the bad is and where the good is. To the truth of the good is where everyone should look.
“So, I shun the bad and always promote the good.”
Until his death, he remained principled with this kind of philosophical thinking. We certainly hope that the government will take heed and re-think his entry to the national shrine at Heroes’ Acre. It is not too late.
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