Zhakata finally releases long awaited album

• Fans attend live shows in solidarity

Leornard Zhakata
Leornard Zhakata

• ZBC reluctant to play album

One of Zimbabwe’s celebrated musicians, Leonard Karikoga Zhakata, has finally released a new album in the hope that the Zanu (PF) controlled radio and television stations might play the tracks and videos on it.

Zhakata had not released an album since Tine Vimbo (There is Hope), which was banned from the airwaves in 2006.

And today, he is a happy man.

“I wrestled to release this album. I am happy that we have won a huge battle. My album is now available and all I can say is that let us forget about the long wait and enjoy the music,” said Zhakata, on the sidelines of a colourful launch last Saturday.

The Zimbabwe Music Corporation, now owned by Zanu (PF) officials including gospel musician Elias Musakwa, is fast losing top musicians because of its political stance. It has been holding on to Zhakata’s album on allegations that it contained political material that denigrated Zanu (PF).

In trying to make a follow up on the progress of his album, the talented composer said he had been receiving conflicting statements from the authorities at ZMC as to why they were not releasing it.

This prompted him to join Metro Studios. Various promoters told Showbiz last week said they were eager to engage Zhakata as many fans were attending his live shows following the release of the album.

“He is in demand and we are going to work with him in holding live shows,” said Mustafa El Arubi of Slash Down Entertainment.

Some of the songs on the album that is now already on the market include Simudza Mureza (Raise The Flag), Misodzi Yerudo (Tears of Love), Rima Rapera (The End of Darkness), Uchandipa Menduru (Medal Of Love), Dambura Mbabvu and It’s Good For Us.

Radio presenters from the Zanu (PF) controlled radio stations said they had not yet received the new album and they were waiting to get the “go ahead from the authorities.”

“As radio DJs we also like Zhakata. I have nothing against his songs and I am very willing to play the new album. We first of all have to get the permission from the authorities to play his songs,” said a popular presenter from Radio Zimbabwe.

A presenter at the vernacular station, National FM, said: “It is unfortunate that we have not yet been given the green light to play the album. There is no doubt that he is one of the best musicians and listeners are calling us requesting the new album but we are at pains to explain the situation right now.”

Metro Studios director Emion Sibindi said: “We worked flat out to ensure that the album is available on the market. He came with his master copy and he was determined to release the album. We are happy that all parties have done their best and fans can now access the album.”

Zhakata said he looked forward to a time when ZBC would play his songs.

Troubles with Zanu (PF)

2000 –ZBC radio stations banned some of his songs including Bhora Rembabvu (Stiff Competition) from the album ZORA, which they thought meant Mugabe’s rule was facing stiff competition from Morgan Tsvangirai of the popular MDC. In the song Zhakata reminds a person in higher position that there is also someone who wants that position and he should brace for stiff competition, as it was like a major football cup final.

2001 – Zhakata released the album Mubikira (Catalyst) and again some of the songs on the album were banned. In the song called Sakunatsa (The Good Samaritan), he sang of a country that does not have a fair and balanced judiciary system – a good person is always persecuted for no reason while the judiciary was protecting offenders.

2003 – The album Hodho (The Toy Gun) was completely banned from the airwaves, as Zanu (PF) described it “politically poisonous.” Tracks from the album include Warrior, where he sings of a soldier who is forced to go to a war with a toy gun and fight the enemy who has machine guns, bombs and bazookas. In short Zhakata was saying that there was an uneven platform for one’s expression of political or social views.

2005 – Udza Vamwe (Spread The Message). Whole album banned as some songs focused on children being militarized and taught to preach messages of hate.

2006 – Tine Vimbo (There Is Hope). The title track was banned from the airwaves as the messages portrayed in some of the songs were deemed not fit for public political consumption. In the song Zhakata was giving hope to desperate Zimbabweans saying that they had endured a long suffering and they should now hope for change and long for a better future.

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