Musician Vimbai Zimuto says the backlash she has received for posting nude pictures online is a testament, not of the nation’s conservatism, but rather slow reception to change.
After landing in the country a few days ago, the Hapana Kwaunoenda singer, who flew out of the country to her Netherlands base yesterday, did not get time to rest as she hopped from one radio or television station to another in a futile bid to debunk the meaning of her nudity “spree”.
She has been in high demand since posting a series of sexually-charged pictures on the internet over the past weeks having to deal with mainstream media as well as clogging notifications on social media.
“It’s been a rollercoaster. I have been going for interviews and people asking questions, it’s been interesting, fun and I am happy because it is not just negative,” she told Standard Style on Friday night in a back stage interview at Dereck Mpofu’s album launch.
Zimuto’s work has been scrutinised with negative results, lampooned and written off by many yet she insists that the negative reactions do not define what she stands for.
“We [Zimbabweans] are very slow at accepting new things, we do not adjust faster than expected, but eventually it will happen,” she said.
“If you are going to bring your art, bring it the way you want, it doesn’t change your morality (because) I am still the same bubbly ghetto girl Vimbai.”
Her name is not only topical among Harare urbanites or netizens [people with online presence]. It has found its way to the length and breadth of the country to places as far as Mvurwi.
“You see they want me to perform at Padendere Night Club in Mvurwi and had I not been travelling tomorrow [yesterday], I would have gone to Beitbridge as well,” she said, pointing at a phone chat with a gleaming smile.
One would struggle to make out if people from such places really know any of her music or if what they expect is some sort of strip tease when she gets on a stage.
Either way, Zimuto would not disappoint if her scintillating performance punctuated by good vocals, waist-gyrating dances and skimpy multi-coloured garb at Theatre in the Park [where she was a supporting act] are to be used as reference points.
The mother of two girls views the massive challenge to the land’s norms a way of bringing “back our culture” which made the ancestors “comfortable in their own skin”.
“I am inciting a certain dialogue in the community to make people question certain things that they do like saying we are a cultured country, but what is our culture? If we can define that, we will not have issues with accepting who we are,” she said, adding that she had not lost sleep over reproach.
For many the idea that Zimuto is a musician now comes as an afterthought while her naked body has become the crowd’s main attraction to her artistry and she does not mind.
“When you are an artiste, you have to come and tell a story at some point because we are human and have stories that we want to tell, but sometimes you cannot tell it in a song because it is too emotional or may not be received in the way you intend,” she said.
For those thirsty for more, Zimuto is an oasis and the story is just unfolding.
“I want people to engage and to follow the story and then they will still understand it at some point because it’s like reading a story you have to go through the whole book to get the gist,” she said.
Though for one reason or another her followership has gone through the roof following an excess show of skin, she ironically claims not to have expected it.
“I was actually shocked that people started following, you know, that is when I saw that it is true that sex sells, but I was just being an artiste,” claimed Zimuto.
Ultimately, she insists that nudity is just an expression of feelings, not a new signature for her artistic efforts.
Many suspect Zimuto has lost her marbles, but she finds comfort in “telling a story” because there has also been positive responses to her work.
“To me, it’s sane art and it is something I want people to understand the same way as our proverbs which carry metaphorical meaning so it is the same as art when you look at it, it has a deeper meaning to it that just the images you see,” she said.