By Fred Zindi
Psychologists have attributed hardships and traumatic events during childhood as reasons for unstable lives during adulthood. They claim that if one was neglected and never got any attention as a child, then discovers his/her talent and suddenly rises to music stardom and begins to get everyone’s attention, they are bound to become reckless if they fail to control themselves.
As common sense would suggest and as research confirms, children tend to do best in stable households, where they know what to expect and feel that their relationships, health, and safety are basically secure. Undergoing repeated transitions can cause stress by threatening this feeling and undermining kids’ sense of control over their lives, which then tends to lower their performance at school and mental health.
Unfortunately, instability is an extremely common experience in many children’s lives today. Their parents’ relationships — whether marriage, separation, divorce, re-marriage, or the beginning or end of a cohabiting relationship — affects the way they live in adulthood when they leave their homes.
These are the first similarities I observed in Soul Jah Love and John Chibadura’s lives.
The recent death of Soul Jah Love at the age of 31 was definitely linked to his upbringing. The way he grew up had a bearing on how he looked after himself in adulthood.
Here is a synopsis of his traumatic life from the beginning to the end.
Soul Jah Love was born Soul Musaka on November 22, 1989.
His mother died when he was one-year old. He was then adopted by an auntie who also died when he was five years old. His grandmother then took over and stayed with him. Unfortunately, his grandmother also died while he was around the age of 10 when he was in Grade 5. Soul Jah Love then moved to stay with his father and stepmother in Waterfalls. His father then died when Soul Jah Love was now 15 years old. His stepmother saw no reason of keeping a stepchild whose father was no longer there and it is alleged that she threw him out in 2005. All of Soul Jah Love’s family members refused to stay with him and he was forced to become a street kid.
That same year, Soul Jah Love’s twin brother named John, also sadly passed away.
With that kind of traumatic and unstable life coupled with poor living conditions, Soul Jah Love ended up suffering from diabetes and cancer. However, on a more positive note, his deep interest in music saved him and he became one of Zimdancehall’s greatest artistes in Zimbabwe. Despite this, he found it difficult to ply his trade professionally. The critical opprobrium generated by his non-appearances at promised performances is typical of a person with a shaky and unstable background.
Given that kind of background he grew up in, relationships, not only with female partners, but also with his male counterparts, were bound to fail. The number of fights he was involved in with the likes of Seh Calaz, for instance, are clear examples of someone who had a disturbed childhood.
Soul Jah Love was married to Bounty Lisa (Lisa Musenyi), a Zimdancehall musician. The couple met in the music industry and their marriage sustained both their respective careers for a while. The marriage, however, was tumultuous. As expected, for one with a disturbed childhood background, the marriage did not last long. He and Bounty Lisa got divorced.
Soul Jah Love began singing whilst in high school. He became a prominent musician in 2012 when he released his hit Ndiniuyauya. In his songs he called himself Chigunduru because he was once a street kid. We all know that life as a street kid is so hard and painful. So, Soul Jah Love found comfort and solace in drugs. He had no one to turn to those days. That is when he started singing. Through his music, Soul Jah Love became a household name in Zimbabwe. It is said that when it comes to singing, people who have had a traumatic life will always sing from the heart and soul as they express their deepest inner feelings of life through music. This is shown in his songs which include Handichade Nhamo, Ndimi Makauraya, Kuponda Nhamo, Dai Hupenyu Hwaitengwa, Ndaitenga Hwa Amai Vangu, Go Back To Sender, Ndichafa Rinhiko and Kana Ndafa.
Now let’s turn to John Nyamukokoko Chibadura, who died at the age of 42 in 1999. He also had a traumatic childhood. John Nyamukokoko “Chibadura” was born in 1957 in Guruve, Zimbabwe. His father and mother were itinerant farm labourers from Mozambique. In 1962, at the tender age of five, John lost his mother and his father remarried a woman who was tough on John. Because he had a hard time with his stepmother, John was eventually forced to go to Centenary to live on a farm with his grandfather who was a talented mbira player.
Unfortunately, his grandfather also died three years later. From then on, John continued to live a nomadic life when he was passed from one relative to another.
In 1968, while in Centenary on a farm, he started to learn playing the banjo. The following year, there was a serious drought in Zimbabwe, and John, in search of further education and survival, walked from Centenary to Darwendale where he settled at a farm called Wagon Wheels.
He worked at the farm as a tractor driver and lorry driver while attending school. He quit school after Form 3. It took John another 10 years before he made the move that was designed to realise the dream of becoming the cherished musician he became.
He moved to Chitungwiza where he was soon to become popularly known as “Mr Chitungwiza”.
Despite his seemingly successful life, his traumatic experiences in life never left him as evidenced by the songs he penned such as Vengai Zvenyu, Sara Ugarike, Usandivengere Simba Rangu, Kukura Kurerwa, Nhamo, Varoyi, Mwari Matinyanya, Kufa Hakuna Memba, Waatambura, Urombo Hupenyu Hwangu and the classic Zuva Rekufa Kwangu.
Now, did Soul Jah Love and John Chibadura know that their deaths were imminent when they sang songs about their own deaths? Soul Jah Love sang Kana Ndafa whose lyrics went something like this:
Hapana munhu wenyama anotonga. Mwari ndiye anotonga
Ndoda kuti mugoziva
Asi ndivo vainditumira mamhepo Manyepo. etc; while Chibadura sang Zuva Rekufa Kwangu, which goes something like this:
Inzwai mwana wenyu nditaurewo
Zvinondinetsa zvikurukuru pasipano
Zuva rekufa kwangu ndichachemwa naani
Zuva rekufa kwangu ndichavigwa naani? etc
Soul Jah Love went and did his own rendition of Zuva Rekufa Kwangu. He was obviously touched by John Chibadura’s song.
I remember asking John, when he penned Zuva Rekufa Kwangu in reggae, a genre which was different from his usual sungura beat: “Why are you predicting your own death? Are you about to die?”
His response was: “I am planning for the future of my children. What will happen to them when I die? I don’t want them to live the kind of life that I experienced when I was growing up. This is why I am writing such songs.”
I was the first DJ to play that song on Radio 3’s reggae session one Thursday night and the whole nation went into a frenzy. The paroxysm of Chibadura-mania began then as I continued to receive non-stop requests for the song.
Chibadura was a nickname meaning roughly “the man who can do”, or “the man who is the best and can beat all odds”.
Despite this apparent success, John died without a penny to his name which is typical of a person who grew up in an unstable background where human values are non-existent.
On a different note, Tocky Vibes and Ex-Q are embroiled in a dispute over the song the two musicians collaborated on titled Wakatemba. This has resulted in the video being taken down on YouTube as each one claims ownership to the song and YouTube are in a quandary as to who to pay the royalties. That is Zimbabwean musicians for you where collaboration sometimes means rivalry.
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