Zimbabwe: Chibaba – the Tormented Soul That Jah Loved

The last 11 months have proved to be scary. It’s an era where death is just a sneeze away; with each day taking away more than it gives. We have lost lives, lives that carried hopes for a brighter day.

Last Tuesday the undeniable King of Zimdancehall Soul Jah Love, born Saul Muzavazi Musaka (pictured), breathed, his last. Waking up to know that there would be no ghetto melodies from Sauro, Chibaba, Chigunduru, Makuruwani or Ngwendeza was unbelievable.

Such a talent, gone.

He played an integral role in the early stages of the new genre, Zimdancehall, becoming the dominant beat.

Makuruwani was a cult hero in Zimbabwean music and in every ghetto in the country; he spoke the life of an ordinary youth battling the lifeless economy and social injustice.

The controversial Soul Jah Love was a star, cool as a cucumber, he could flex on a song which talked about suffering.

Attention followed him, bad and good publicity. From not honouring bookings, getting on stage intoxicated, drug addiction and fighting in public spaces.

He could freestyle hit songs, he was even a dangerous rival to his peers, Seh Calaz can attest to that.

Soul Jah Love was the face and voice of struggling ghetto youths across the country. His ability to resonate with their struggles, successes and pleasures endeared him to millions from all ghettos.

Even the late legendary musician Oliver Mtukudzi endorsed Soul Jah Love, but said his behaviour overshadowed his message and ability.

His struggles in marriage were everyday challenges they faced, hence the support he received.

His battles and praise for drugs and substance abuse were also unfortunate periods, which drew more fans to his side.

The nation is in mourning, and as much as we don’t celebrate death, Soul Jah Love’s death might have come as a moment of rest that the artiste himself clamoured for, if his songs are anything to go by.

Makuruwani, meaning the cool one, was a larger-than-life character and a cool one on stage, but not in his private life.

His life was not rosy at all, he lost his twin brother as an infant, went on to lose his mother and moved in with his father, and stepmother. After losing his father he turned into what he called Chigunduru, a street kid. He battled diabetes for the greater part of his life and the ailment went on to cause him infertility.

When things were starting to look better in 2015, his Budiriro home was demolished by Harare City Council after being deemed an illegal structure. He was later involved in a car accident, injuring his leg and almost having his foot amputated, forcing him to perform on a wheelchair.

Three years back when his career was dwindling due to drug abuse and commitment issues with promoters, he was dealt a heavy blow after his wife Bounty Lisa divorced him.

All he clamoured for in his last songs was rest.

Zororo and Kana Ndafa are songs recorded in his final days and they speak of a misunderstood troubled soul, a soul who has seen nothing good out of life, rejected by all and called by all sorts of names.

In Zororo, he wishes for rest from living a life of suffering.

In Kana Ndafa, Soul Jah Love speaks as if he is from the other side — he makes an address that people misunderstood him when he was alive.

On Friday, Sunshine Family, who worked with Soul Jah Love, released a song called Ndichafa Rinhi, where he asks God when He will take his life as he is tired of suffering and life being a burden to the people around him.

Coincidentally, last year on February 16, the chanter Soul Jah Love escaped death by a whisker after his car overturned just after Martin Spur, near Kadoma, on his way to a musical show in Kwekwe.

Besides the suffering, Sauro was loved by God whom he mentioned on almost every song. You can’t be such a rare talent and not loved by God. Jah (God) gave us Soul to speak for us through his music, and geniuses like him don’t live long.

In all my years of following Soul Jah Love, I am embarrassed of myself that I got to know that he was that young when he died. I am approaching my 30s, thus it means we were in the same age range. But to think that Sauro was just 31, it never crossed my mind, but his behaviour should have told me otherwise.

The life struggles he endured were too much for a life that existed for only three decades. His life was not “ordinary – ordinary” as his estranged wife Bounty Lisa once sang. Zimbabwe just lost its “oldest” young artiste.


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