Winky D’s Artistic Expression Leaves Politicians Jittery

As dawn broke on Monday morning, the “King of Dancehall” Winky D stepped into a boxing ring, strapping on gloves for a performance steeped in the grit and resilience of a fighter. Zanu PF and its supporters, it seems, may have interpreted this symbolism literally; their reactions suggesting a declaration of war rather than mere artistic engagement.

The reactions hinted at a potential crackdown on Winky D’s artistic expression. Despite this, the “iBotso” singer had just enjoyed a triumphant HICC New Year’s Eve show, celebrating his 20-year career that began with the iconic “The Devotee” album.

In this instance, the boxing ring is a literal space for fighting, bringing out a metaphor for artistic expression and overcoming adversity.

The ring represents the challenges faced by the boxer (artist) under political pressure, the constant battle to be heard and to express oneself freely, despite a media blackout.

Winky D symbolises the power of art and its ability to challenge authority and ignite social change, even within a seemingly confined space.

“2023 was the most difficult year for me musically but because of your love, your support we are here celebrating.

“I couldn’t get a radio advert for the show. I couldn’t get a radio interview for the show. I only had the internet and the streets that are you (fans),” said Winky D to his fans in his first address of the media blackout.

Winky D’s music itself delivered a powerful message. A teaser of a new song, reminiscent of his hit “Vashakabvu,” resonated deeply with the audience. Lyrics touched on the ongoing exodus of Zimbabweans seeking greener pastures, the disputed elections, and the media blackout faced by the artist himself. This potent cocktail of social commentary further fueled Zanu PF’s ire.

“Vana ve Zimbabwe vachiri kunyunyuta. Vapararira kwese kwese kutsvaga maguta. Mumwe oti ndaka winner umwe oti wakabvuta. Varikuona Mbuya Nehanda vari muguta. Ndakatsikisa dambarefu Eureka Eureka. Pa radio voramba voti iro ridza wega. Ndakati vanotora zvevapfupi nekureba. Umwe woiramba oti wakaimba wega,” sang Winky D, sending the crowds into wild cheers of appreciation of round one.

The stage pulsed with vibrant energy as Winky D launched into round two of his electrifying performance. Stepping out with his collaborator, Bazooker, the crowd roared in anticipation. Then, the first notes of “Vafarisi” – a track with an infectious beat and undeniable party vibes – filled the air.

But within the celebratory sounds, a deeper layer shimmered. “Vafarisi” is not just a party anthem; it’s a song woven with the memories of August 1, 2018, a date etched in the collective memory of Harare.

Six years ago, on that day, the city mourned the tragic loss of innocent lives during a shooting incident. Six people were fatally shot while dozens others sustained gunshot wounds after soldiers indiscriminately fired live ammunition to disperse protestors from central Harare following delays in announcement of the disputed presidential election results.

Protesters had attempted to besiege the election command centre, demanding the release of presidential election results after reports of vote rigging.

“Tiri vafarisi, chedu kufara, musatiridzire mabara,” roughly translates to “We’re just party-goers, let’s celebrate, there’s no need for bullets.” This poignant chorus from Winky D’s “Vafarisi” (off his album Eureka Eureka) encapsulates the pain and frustration of those seeking joy amidst political violence.

“Vamwe vofarisa vave kufayisa vakavhara chiso kunge Zobha, ndiani iyeye hapana amuziva?” that line is aptly directed to the infamous soldier, who was captured on camera brutally shooting at unarmed civilians whilst concealing his face with a balaclava mask.

Vafarisi sounds more like Gafa Party (Toi Toi), another song anchored on politics, protests and political violence. Both songs have interwoven themes — party vibes and political connotations. They both serve to save the youths from political smugness.

Zanu PF’s reaction was swift and vehement. Social media was flooded with accusations, branding the HICC show a “political rally” and Winky D himself a “politician”.

“Winky D is a politician!! This event (HICC show) was a political rally,” Zanu PF patriots posted on X (formerly Twitter). “We have no problem with Winky D the musician. This event (HICC show) was a political rally and not a music show.”

In an interview with our sister paper, Newsday Zanu Pf information director Farai Marapira said Winky D is abusing his artistic privileges to attack government.

“It is unfortunate that Winky D, an artiste relevant (sic) because of a decided Zanu PF policy in the early 2000s to uplift local art has taken the same gift handed to him to attack the benevolent hand,” Marapira said.

“As a political party we have a right to assess his actions and respond politically also, of course as always within the tenets of the law. Let it also be known that as his musical star wanes he has decided to delve into politics to hopefully get attention and more views on his ailing musical career. A mammoth party like Zanu PF is not really bothered by a miniscule actor such as him because everyone seeks relevance by speaking about the party.”

Winky D’s music might be seen as a rallying cry for discontent, a threat to the established order and Zanu PF’s grip on power.

Whether Winky D’s music will spark social change or be silenced by political pressure remains to be seen. But one certainty is; the gloves are off, and the fight for artistic freedom in Zimbabwe has entered a new round. The stage is set for a captivating clash between the raw power of music and the entrenched forces of autocratic authority, with the hearts and minds of Zimbabweans hanging in the balance. *Standard*
























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