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Zimbabwe: Why We Love Zim Dancehall

Zimbabwe's own brand of reggae music - Zimdancehall - has grown exponentially in recent years. Guest blogger Mufaro Chamunorwa shares his views on 'mangoma'.

Bob Marley once sang "One good thing about music, when it hits you, you feel no pain". Our music of choice is dancehall. The hearts of a nation have been captured by the infectious "riddims" of Soul Jah Love, Seh Calaz, Winky D among many others.

Voice for the youths

Those who are resistant to change have heavily attacked dancehall music. They have cited lack of originality because of the heavy Jamaican influence on the genre.

They have challenged its depth and quality for the following reasons: Any person who owns a laptop can be a music producer. Any person who has a voice can be a singer.

There is no need for extensive technical skill, musical knowledge, no notes or need for harmony and symphony. However because of all this, the youth who were previously ignored and marginalised now have a platform to be heard.

Zimdancehall is a story of self-groomed musicians who started from backyard studios and went on to defy the odds by moving the country and even the masses abroad.

Uplifting the disadvantaged

Previously places in the music industry were reserved for the elite who could afford the expensive studio fees, managers and promotion fees. Airplay was reserved for only the controlling minorities and opportunities to make a breakthrough into the industry were few and sparse.

Now the ghetto youth have been empowered. The oppressive tendencies and unequal dynamics of our society used to exclude them; now we embrace and celebrate them. Dancehall has given the ghetto youths the chance to tell our political, social and cultural stories. They are the voice of the people.

A country in crisis

The average Zimbabwean has little reason to be jubilant. Companies are closing and jobs being lost. Droughts and water shortages have been predicted from the 2016 season.

The liquidity crunch is tightening and more and more people are wallowing in endless poverty and squalor. Dancehall artists have expressed our emotions and eased our burdens.

Songs like "Misodzi yangu" by Killer T and "Savhaivha" by Winky D have given us reason to be resilient and determined. "Kuponda nhamo", "Takumbofarawo kanhi" "Maproblems disappear" have been motivational anthems that gave us a glimmer of hope amidst our tough economic environment.

Message within

Zimdancehall artists are incorporating moral and ethical lessons into their songs. Look at how Tocky celebrates the powerful women who raised us in "Mhai", Winky D stands up against drug abuse in "Mafira kureva" and Shinsoman explores a faithful and loving relationship in "Mai Devante".

The tag "ghetto youth" is now a label to be proud of because it is the ghetto youth who have taken a global genre and added our Zimbabwean flair, rich culture, and beautiful local dialects to it. Look at how Winky D's Vashakabvu was an ode that commemorated the greatness that was our musical legends. No matter what the critics say, dancehall artistes are the poets of our generation.

Why we love 'mangoma'

The youth are pushing the boundaries of old genres and are uplifting the status of our ghetto societies through their messages. They are taking charge of telling our stories and embracing a new era of self-consciousness.

This is why we love mangoma. It's a voice to those who were voiceless, it is the sweet release of a wailing nation.

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