For years, Winky D has used his music to highlight the growing frustrations of “ghetto youths” with all the social ills spawned by economic mismanagement and failure of government – unemployment, poverty, drug addiction, uncontrolled diseases and lost dreams.
The singer’s politically-conscious lyrics have earned him cult status among his followers, a fan base which keeps cultivated by an economic crisis that has only got worse in the last two years after President Emmerson Mnangagwa toppled long-time leader Robert Mugabe who for a spell was the target of Winky D’s searing commentary.
The singer has maintained for a long time that he only projects the reality of the desperation and hopelessness that pervades township life – but he now appears ready to take in a step further and offer leadership to a pathway out of the crisis.
Timing the release of his latest album with the dawn of a new year, Winky D offers up himself as a Moses on a mission to take the people from Egypt to Canaan.
The album title, ‘Njema’, is a Shona word for ‘chains’ or ‘handcuffs’. The album artwork released in advance of the December 31 album launch features Winky D wearing a crown made of chains.
“It’s those chains that we must unlock. It’s the chaining of the minds; we need to unchain our minds. That’s what it all means,” Winky D told comedians Gonyeti and Maggie in a recent interview.
‘Ijipita’, a single from the album, had received over 133,000 hits on YouTube on December 30, four days after it was uploaded without a video.
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Ijipita is Shona for ‘Egypt’, the Biblical land of slavery under Pharaoh. Winky D sings that Zimbabweans are sheep without a shepherd, now they need to remove their shoes and brace for the gruelling task of trudging across the desert to their freedom in Canaan.
“Tabvunza zvirimberi hakuna adaira (We asked what lies ahead but no-one answered),” he says, warning that resistance to Pharaoh (Mnangagwa) could yield unexpected outcomes.
Zimbabweans, Winky D adds in another line, must be prepared to go where their mothers are not – which could be interpreted as seeking greener pastures abroad, or putting themselves in the line of danger for greater good.
Winky D’s album launch has alarmed the paranoid Mnangagwa regime which has twice used the army to crush protests, amid calls by Zanu PF supporters for the album to be banned.
Home Affairs Minister Kazembe Kazembe whose ministry oversees the police had called a press conference for 10AM on December 31 to make comments about Winky D’s album launch, but officials announced it had been cancelled after reporters turned up.
Writing on a Zanu PF WhatsApp group, one activist Hosia Mviringi said: “Of concern is the fact that Winky D’s musical lyrics have been consistently viewed and interpreted as deliberately coined to incite the public to resist and rise up against lawful authority in Zimbabwe. This album is no different.”
Describing Winky D’s music as “toxic”, Mviringi accuses the musician of “portraying the leadership of this country led by President Mnangagwa as clueless and incapable of guiding the country to economic prosperity, yet it’s only in the second year into the first five year term.”
Winky D’s album launch at the International Conference Centre on December 31, dubbed the ‘Final Shutdown’, will also feature performances by Killer T, Baba Harare, Mambo Dhuterere and Takura Life.
Zanu PF activists say ‘final shutdown’ also evokes memories of opposition protests violently put down by the military, and suggest Winky D “has obliged to be the vehicle for that message of disruption”.
“As a nation, we cannot be seen to condone such behaviour by attending such a gig. Any citizen who avails themselves to abetting such actions becomes an enemy of the people,” claimed Mviringi.-ZIMLIVE