By Moses Chibaya
There are few people that Dambudzo Marechera’s line “I write what I live, I live what I write,” could better describe than Soul Jah Love.
Exceptionally gifted and a Zimdancehall sensation, the late Soul Jah Love, born Soul Muzavazi Musaka, who was granted liberation war hero status alter his death, was a man to whom the boundary between music and reality was so thin as to be almost non-existent.
Jah Love’s music is autobiographical in nature chronicling lived poverty, sorrow, happiness and life struggles.
Soul Jah Love’s music describes not only the musician’s troubled life dogged by health issues, poverty and homelessness, but happiness too, as reflected in the song Kuponda Nhamo in which he invites all his relatives to gather and crush poverty for good: Hama dzese unganai toda kumboponda nhamo. (All relatives, let’s gather together and destroy poverty).
Commenting on the song Ndini Uya Uya, Soul Jah Love said: “I was expressing my life. It’s a real song based on a true story. Sometimes people accuse you of doing certain things that you have not done because of the kind of person you are.”
In 2015, Soul Jah Love’s nearly complete home was among hundreds of houses that were demolished by the Harare City Council in Budiriro opposite High Glen shopping mall. Jah Love then penned a song Pazai (Demolish) as a direct attack on the demolitions.
In June 2017, after being labelled a nonentity at a Mutare rally by Zanu PF youth commissar Innocent Hamandishe, Soul Jah Love penned a song Zvinhu describing himself as a star who was a force to reckon with.
Since some people often said he would die leaving no child, in response Jah Love sang about his barrenness in the song Mbereko.
When former TV personality Oscar Pambuka asked the Ndini Uya Uya hit maker on YouTube about what motivated him, he replied that he sang about the day to-day issues that he faces.
“What motivates me is just natural things that I come across in life, things that we face day in day out,” Soul Jah Love said.
In another interview with radio presenter V Candy in September 2018, the talented singer said he sang reality. “Sometimes I try to sing reality because I can’t sing about a posh car that I don’t have or a double storey house that I don’t have,” Jah Love said.
Sigmund Freud, the Austrian psychologist, postulated that art is deeply rooted in the unconscious depth of the artist. Songs like Zvikuru Zviri Pandiri and Kana Ndafa also mirrored the troubles that dogged the dreadlocked artiste’s life.
The youthful crooner, who was of no fixed abode, found solace in music and used music for escapism. For him, music became a way of suppressing the alienation, loneliness, homelessness and poverty making it clear how art and the artist’s life story are not so easily separated. Soul Jah Love’s music was a replica of his life.