Dancehall obscenity divides opinion

“Dancehall is growing and there’s unity between producers, DJs and artists. Zimbabwe will be a little Jamaica,” says DJ Templeman, better known as Godfather. “Dancehall is a vital element of Zimbabwean society. Indeed, this is the genre that helps form the moral fibre of Zimbabwean society.”

Many would agree, but would say that what’s being formed is a society of sex, money and alcohol obsessed young people.

Dancehall is a culture that impacts on dress, fashion and body language, and it also influences the attitudes of many youths, stimulating them to behave as people do in the songs.

The power of musicians to influence their audience became crystal-clear when Winky D curtain-raised for Elephant Man at the Glamis Arena. He ordered thousands of fans who had paid rest-of-ground fees to invade the VIP section. People legitimately in the VIP area were injured and many lost phones and cameras in the stampede that ensued.

Dancehall, say many, has moved from its promotion of social and political consciousness to the elevation and glorification of sexual immorality and violence.

“I do not play Zim dancehall in my commuter bus because of the lyrics. Some people do not board commuters playing such kind of immature music,” said one bus driver.

Headlining artists like Lady and Young Soldier explore sex as the main theme in their music, making taboo practices normal. Young, mpressionable minds then adopt these themes as part of their daily lifestyle.

According to a recent survey that said girls tended to start having sex at the age of 12, writers pointed out that peer pressure and music were among the most powerful forces driving young people.

While dancehall influences its listeners, there are conflicts even within the genre. It’s customary for youths to affirm an informal allegiance, and this was witnessed by top dancehall artist Winky D in the song Mafeelings pamangoma.

One example of factions arising within dancehall is the much-publicised divide between rastas, who glorify smoking marijuana, and those criticising the habit. Divisions erupted when Winky D blasted the use of drugs in his most popular hit Mofira kureva.

Conscious of that, Guspy Warrior released a song praising the use of marijuana – “tipe chamba timone mone” or “give us the weed and let me roll it”.

A drug abuse anthem rocked the show at Gwanzura stadium recently, as many artists performed their own paeans to dope, including Lady Squanda, Lady B and Killer T.

Violence and sexual immorality are also popular themes. Artists also sing about rage.”Akunyeya usipo mamisa, akutorera mudiwa wako mamisa” or “Beat up anyone gossiping about you and beat up anyone trying to snatch your lover”, sang Lady B.

Tich Masomere, a political analyst says: “Reports identify music, mainly dancehall, as a trigger for early sexual practices.”

“Music is spiritual and is an informal way of education that preaches to the subconscious mind, affecting listeners’ behaviour,” says media analyst Earnest Mudzengi.

Lady B’s performances turn the spotlight on sex and, at one of her shows, she called a male fan on stage to put audiences into an erotic mood with sexual dances, while singing “sheka mpunduru” or “bounce your booty”.

Alongside these negative, or at least morally dubious, messages, there are some positives too.

Many reggae and dancehall artists sing about the current social, economic and political climate in their communities.

Jiggaz introduced his latest socially conscious song, mari haisi kukwana at a bash at Gwanzura stadium recently, and his son, Spiderman, went further by castigating the city council for causing water-borne diseases.

Post published in: Entertainment

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