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Love Songs: Music to Play this Valentines Day

Hands up whose world is waste and shapeless without music. Music is the official language of lovers, the wind that riffs on vulnerable hear...

Hands up whose world is waste and shapeless without music. Music is the official language of lovers, the wind that riffs on vulnerable heartstrings, and the time machine of the lonely man.

Yes, in love’s dizzy and distracted audio, you retrieve your best memories, keep up with your furthermost dreams, dismantle barriers to desire and amplify substrate whispers. 

Bob Marley may be the “baddest” weed chimney, but he prescribes music as the only drug without side effects: “One good thing I know about music, when it hits you, you feel no pain.”

This Valentine, we rewind 10 Zimbabwean love classics from songbirds of fine feather who gave new expressions to the most rated emotion and became permanent go-betweens in kingdoms of two. 

The list, selected across genres and generations in no particular order, is as subjective as love itself, but the songs have all ground business to a halt at some point on Zimbabwe’s hit parade.

Chipo Chiroorwa by Zexie Manatsa

“Chipo Chiroorwa” is in a way Zimbabwe’s first love song. The 1974 hit merits a special place in Zimbabwe’s music history as the first song by a black artiste to win a gold disc, selling 25 000 copies. The wartime band took time off the political frontline to produce an altogether enthralling celebration of marriage. Stanley Manatsa’s mastery of the lead guitar powers this unalloyed beauty. 

Chipo, the daughter being urged to wed, is not an imaginary persona, but Zexie’s niece Chipo (Chikowero, 2015).

Maruva Enyika by Leonard Zhakata

Now, how do we pick the best love song from the man who gave us “Yeukai”, “Pakuyambuka”, “Ndangariro,” “Kingdom Yevaviri” and “Tsime Rapwa”? If “Maruva Enyika” stands out, it is only because the idyllic sungura-kwasa hit of 1994 is Zhakata’s breakthrough achievement. 
Love Songs 
 A 26-year old Zhakata did not pen this impassioned homage for a particular muse, but for love itself. In the song, Zimbabwe’s finest lyricist credits womankind as the crown jewel of God’s creation and takes an ungenerous swipe at colourless celibacy.

Ruva Rangu by Pied Pipers

No accident to successively feature the flower motif in this list, after all the foremost symbol of feminine beauty and love itself. “Ruva Rangu”, the unforgettable composition by Brian Rusike and the Pied Pipers, has run into several covers from Paul Brickhill to David Chifunyise. The Mbare outfit (now-disbanded) gifted lovers a melody they would never get out of their hearts, and set up latter artists for fawning grabs.

True Love by Ilanga

Ilanga, perhaps the most varied constellation of music talent to grace Zimbabwe (we are talking of Busi Ncube, Cde Chinx, Andy Brown, bassist Don Gumbo and keyboardist Keith Farquahason) approached every story with a Midas touch but “True Love” had to be their most memorable. Busi’s majestic vocals, set to rich instrumentation, plead with her bae for true love and a break from games with her heart.

Sharai by Leonard Dembo

The long-form guitarist remains a favourite for Zimbabwe’s greatest musician of all time, but not without tough competition. “Sharai” rightly appears on “The Best of Leonard Dembo” and is one of his only two videos, along with “Manager”.

The song is prefaced by a conversation between a postman and a lovelorn young man. Pleasantly surprised by a letter from his long-lost girlfriend, the recipient breaks into classic sweet-nothings to his “gunzvenzve.” Although Dembo is approvingly remembered for “Chitekete”, “Sharai” deserves a retrial.

Kurwizi by Jamal and Betty Makaya

This captivating duet by Jamal and Betty Makaya defines an epoch, the urban groove movement which shook things up at the turn of the millennium. An effortlessly cherubic vocal enchantress meets an inspired composer by the riverside at sunset for a stirring love song which was to dominate local charts and reportedly make waves in Kenya and Tanzania for the greater part of 2004.

Character by Prince Tendai

Isn’t he the master of cool, the bespectacled cultural connoisseur who could croon French shibboleths and exhibit crushworthy beauties in a video claiming that character is all that matters to him? Prince Tendai’s “Character” is one of the finest Zimbabwean love songs and a stylish throwback to the glory days of ZBC’s Ezomgido.

Rudo Chete by Four Brothers

He is by some distance one of the best wordsmiths but it is hard to imagine Marshall Munhumwe living up to his lyrical bravado. Bothwell Nyamhondera says the Four Brothers frontman was so shy he could not sing with the studio lights on. Where he found some of the most entreating words for womankind, it remains a puzzle.

“Rudo Chete” is one of the best love songs by the band credited by BBC’s John Peel for the world’s “most naturally flowing music.” Unverified rumours say Munhumwe’s screen wife on the video featured without her husband’s permission. The poor man only saw Munhumumwe ploughing with his heifer on Ezomgido and ended up in prison for domestic violence.

Honourable Mention

“Solo naMutsai” no longer awes this writer because he is on next-door terms with the famous Gutu lovebirds. “Furuwa” is a league apart, still better left to nostalgic senior couples. “Dzandipedza Mafuta” is unalloyed gold but in helplessly polarised Zimbabwe, the compiler has to partial to Chopper’s nemesis.

Only Zimdancehall makes this list easier because the young and restless are too busy with “musombodhiya” to be meaningfully inspired by beautiful girls. “Tombofara,” the ultimate wedding song, does not make this job enviable. - The Herald

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