Drug abuse takes its toll on music industry

When Wallace Chirumiko, popularly known as Winky D, released the controversial song Mafirakureva, to many it was nothing more than another hit from the widely acclaimed king of dancehall.

But some fellow musicians were in uproar over the song’s lyrics, and branded the self-styled Ninja President a sell-out.

Mafirakureva speaks of social ills in the country’s high-density suburbs, including drug abuse. The song not only exposes the illicit activities taking their toll within the country’s ghettos, but the impact on the music industry itself.

Cases of drug abuse among international music stars such as the late Whitney Houston, Bobby Brown and DMX have made international news, and it seems the local music industry, mainly dancehall, urban grooves, sungura and hip hop, has its share of drug problems.

Marijuana (mbanje), illicit beers and a substance known as bronco in street lingo are among the top abused substances within music circles.

Medical experts said most musicians end up taking and abusing energy- enhancing substances to bolster their performances during shows.

Recently, sungura outfit Utakataka Express members were accused of failing to pay a drug pusher his dues.

The trio of Bismark ‘Beazo’ Maidza and dancers Kelvin ‘Kerezeni’ Sibanda and Judas ‘Judah’ Musindo were implicated in the drug scandal.

Two years ago, urban grooves songstress Tererai Mungwadi made the headlines for the wrong reasons, as she was said to be suffering from marijuana abuse. The claims were made by fellow artists concerned about her deteriorating health.

Urban grooves producer Nitredy Dhliwayo was one of the most vocal voices suggesting that Tererai needed rehab.

The late Jamal Mataure of the Kurwizi fame was allegedly a heavy illicit beer-drinker. Mataure was reportedly abusing a Mozambican spirit, ZED, smuggled through the country’s porous Forbes border post.

This came to light in 2012, following a visit by this paper to one of the studios in the capital where Jamal was recording his unreleased album Zvichaita Bhoo.

The producer complained that the singer showed up for recording intoxicated and went on to warn Jamal not to set foot in his studio if he was drunk.

The hip hop fraternity has not been spared.

Following intense drug abuse within the local hip hop community in imitation of their American idols, Zimbabwean rapper Huby Blakes released a track called Say No to Drugs

“Makudhakwa necocaine, muchizviita makapenga. Asi uchazoona kuti ndimi muchapenga. Mbanje dzaurikuputa uchazoona kuti dzichakushaisa machena… (You think it’s cool to get high on cocaine. But you will later realise that marijuana destroys you),” he raps in the song.

Sungura musician First Farai was once stoned off the stage at Dangamvura Hotel in Mutare by irate patrons when he showed up wasted. Farai was so drunk that he could only mumble his songs.

Since the country has no rehabilitation centres, many artists are not even aware that they are suffering from substance abuse, be it alcoholism or drug addiction.

Post published in: Arts

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