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People's Soldier: In Search of new Idols

Harare, Zimbabwe – Soul Jah Love became a people’s hero before he died.  That feat was achieved in June 2017, during Robert Mugabe’s youth g...

Harare, Zimbabwe – Soul Jah Love became a people’s hero before he died. 

That feat was achieved in June 2017, during Robert Mugabe’s youth gathering in Harare, where the chanter was set to perform.  

The crowd-puller had come pumped up to thrill his dominant young supporters? But in doing so, he diverted the crowd from the president. Such behaviour irked the ZANU-PF officials, the hosts.

Politicians felt the singer was pilfering the moment of thunder from their aging leader who was set to go on stage. Irked, a party official rebuked the chanter, he was driven by anger.

By @Comic24Derick

“Soul Jah Love is a nonentity. Sit down...,” the official thundered. Humiliated, the singer dissolved amongst the crowd. The act signalled a new chapter: Mugabe’s political base was withering, speedily. That same year in November, Mugabe was dethroned by his lieutenants, substituting him with his deputy.

Days later, Soul Jah Love penned a lyrical response. 

“Soul Jah Love is nobody, but he is greater,” he sang in vernacular. Battle lines had been drawn, and the resultant song was embraced by his listeners with glee and aplomb as a jab to the powers-that-be. 

The lyrics were, however, toned down, seemingly apologetic for his riotous conduct. But he had driven his point home: he was not a pushover, and his music was a social commentary for the suffering ghetto youths.

Without a doubt, his singing emancipated the people, mostly youths from the yoke of suffering they endure daily. To them, attending political functions was to witness such performances, rather than listen to the usual, boring, fatigued and winding, political speeches.

The wretched story of Soul Musaka at birth is mutual among most Zimbabwean youths. After the death of his parents, he suffered as a diabetic patient, later engaging in drugs, which would later come to taint his music career, including his marriage. 

Soul Jah Love rarely shied away from his drug addiction. “I discovered drugs like cocaine when I travelled abroad. I tried it out.”
Soul Jah Love 
In his recites, the singer openly extolled drugs, saying he preferred cocaine to champagne. To him, indulging in drugs became an avenue to lessen troubles, and seeking an added thrill, away from the ghetto lifestyle. 

Without much to do, drugs and alcohol abuse became an avenue to quench daily troubles. 

Those who interacted with him prophesied of his natural genius. “He would go into the studio and listen to the tune and start singing without writing lyrics,” said a confidante. 

Words came naturally to him that whenever he spoke, he sparked lyrical fireworks, to the amusement of his listeners. The chanter’s verses came deep from his heart, eloquently dissecting a synonymous troubled past, and therefore he became a ghetto hero. 

“Many people want to imitate Soul Jah Love, they don’t know he sang from the heart, from his life,” Rockford Josphat said.

Everywhere, he was followed by many. “He said I would rather have sadza (staple food) and vegetables than see my fellow youths suffering,” DJ Templeman revealed at his funeral wake. 

In his lack, he wished others well, though he suffered in the process. Yes, he had his flaws but in his flows, he bettered others with his minimal resources.

Soul Jah Love was in the news, he made showbiz headlines. More than once, he was rumoured to be dead. But in his typical response, he composed a response to douse his knockers. 

Born with diabetics, he would suffer perennially, seeking spiritual intervention. The disease claimed his life on 16 February 2021. While he had cheated death before, this time he succumbed to the eternal path of life.

His death was received with echoing pain in the poor urban areas, where he was identified as an orator of their problems. “We have lost a true hero. He had genuine love, unlike many people,” Jah Prayzah confirmed. Advertisers pounced on the opportunity. 

“We received calls from different people who wanted to help us,” Soul Jah Love’s brother mentioned. The funeral was streamed on social media channels for 9 hours in two days, garnering a huge live audience.

The ruling party accorded him a provincial hero status for his “contribution towards the youths”. He became the third singer to receive such reverence. The state handled the funeral. 

Snaking around the city, the hearse was mobbed by genuine mourners, running side-to-side with their hero. Police failed to enforce lockdown rules, limiting funeral gatherings to 30 people.

The burial ignited more chaos and extra mourning. Youths advanced to the cemetery in defiance of the lockdown. Any heavy confrontation could have triggered violent clashes. 

The main speaker at the funeral witnessed the resistance first hand. His speech was continuously interrupted by chants of “go back to sender”, a verse extracted from a Soul Jah Love’s song. Their defiance was clear: we need to mourn our hero in our way. 

The mood remained tense for the duration of the interment. “Is it not tragic that the same ZANU-PF government still finds it difficult to fund science and innovation projects for young people in Zimbabwe’s ghetto schools has all the money and time in the world to fund funerals of the same youth,” opined Tendai Chabvuta.

Meanwhile, his song before his death revealed the cause he championed. “People are dying. People are crying. Soul Jah Love is trying.” His message said it all, he was a musician trying to emancipate the people from the vices of everyday life, armed with his lyrical ability.

Depression had consumed the singer during his final hours. 

“When shall I die, I am tired of living,” he sang in a single released after his demise. After his death, diverse people are saluting him for what he did for the people, his ability to attract and articulate a nation’s wishes, particularly the suffering youths. 

Without him, people are searching for real heroes who can articulate their values and needs. To them, to us, Soul Jah Love was one of those.

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