Chipanga digs deep into complex themes

MUTARE – Laying claim to extraordinary perception and to knowledge transcending this age, musician Hosiah Chipanga is an enigma of sorts.

The witty Mutare-based National Arts and Merit Award (Nama) award winner says he has through his prolific music career proved his sanity.

“I have, through my music been preparing people not to take me to doctors,” he told the Daily News on Sunday at his home.

The lanky philosophical narrative poet feels he is more religious than he is a musician. And religion has always had the impression of tipping its partisans over; its drunkenness — Karl Max even opined.

His lyrics while on the surface appear simple, they are as complex to decipher as the man is to understand.

But as an artiste, he is a genius. With 24 albums and more than 10 singles in a career spanning over 33 years, he is the only sungura artiste who does not use backing vocalists.

“I sing alone like the likes of Ngwarumapundu but I am able to fill the whole song just as well as those who have backing vocalists,” Chipanga said.

His lyrics, he says, are not to be taken at face value as they are always pregnant with hidden meaning.

“Jesus is my role model as He often expressed His teaching through parables,” Chipanga said. “This also helps me to express issues that would otherwise be too dangerous to express bluntly.”

But he also often exhibits diplomatic abilities of a three-year-old —an in-your-face candidness that has seen his tongue sting everyone from the President to Muchaneta, a local prostitute.

Chipanga’s brutal wit has cut through personal etiquette, commodity pricing, infrastructure, politics, mining, agriculture, morality, administration, social commentary, finance, banking, currency, racism, workers’ welfare, social welfare, land issues, questioned the exclusion of Zimbabwe’s war time leaders from the Heroes Acre, theology, corruption, crime, love, moderation, family life and remnants of colonial injustice.

He feels that while “colonisers may have left, they left behind an oppressive system just as a bee sting leaves poison.”

Among some of his popular hits is Dafi which he believes was prophetic as he warned that although one would have dug a well, they also needed to accommodate any frog that in an act of nature may find itself staying in the well.

“If the frog repulses you, please find ways to purify your water instead of killing the frog in violation of its right to also stay in the same well as this may invite a curse in which the well may dry up when you least expected it,” opines Chipanga.

The song is easy to dismiss as an innocent observation of man’s interaction with nature. But as Chipanga explained, it was a warning to political leadership, as government entered a warpath with white farmers, that there was need to accommodate “foreigners” who found themselves also calling “your” country home. On Nhunzi nechironda – his message, targeted at government – cautions against wasting time fighting flies while the wound suppurates, increasingly becoming difficult to manage.

“I have been trying to help them but l end up being the enemy,” Chipanga said.

He perhaps should quieten his broken spirits by listening to his other song Nyamututa in which he asks how a dung-beetle refused his offer of rice in preference to cow-dung.

In Sodoma neGomora, Chipanga was however making a direct stinging reprobation of Operation Murambatsvina where the Standard Three drop-out questioned the logic of a 13-degreed President’s choice of destroying people’s homes before launching Operation Garikai to house the victims.

The song points to people who were irrevocably affected by the operation and who would never benefit from the follow-up operation.

Interestingly he was also to sing a song for President Mugabe aptly named Gushungo exonerating him from any wrong-doing but passing the buck to his cronies instead.

This is a song for which many believe he was later given money for by the president. He denies receiving any cash for the song from Mugabe.

While many thought he was going the Zanu PF way, he later sang a song calling for peaceful co-existence between the ex-majority party and MDC, advising both to seek dialogue through trusted intermediation. Another fulfilled prophesy for Chipanga.

Then there is Pharaoh which many thought pointed at Mugabe as the spoiler of the people’s wealth.

“The Pharaoh I was referring to was Britain because of its plunder of our natural resources but they inherited its position and the song ended up pointing to them as

Pharaoh. I never meant it that way,” Chipanga said.

Chipanga feels free to express his opinion on anything.

“I have had to sweat out for everything I have,” he says with a sense of accomplishment.

Making as many friends as enemies, he is unfazed “because that’s the nature of truth – it excites others as much as it saddens others.”

But he is increasingly feeling censored and says piracy which has virtually destroyed local music may not be a bad thing after all.

“If it were not for piracy, I don’t think I would still be in the music industry because national radio stations are not playing my music,” Chipanga says.

“I don’t have a cordial relationship with Satan,” he says, adding he only takes solace that he is “a victim of even God’s enemy.”

But censorship is not new for him as his first single in 1979 was banned from the airwaves by the then Rhodesian Broadcasting Corporation as it decried the shedding of innocent blood. This is a song he wrote soon after being released from a Mozambican jail on suspicion of being a sellout after being caught as he tried to join the liberation struggle in 1978.

Upon his release, he also spent weeks in police cells locally.

On his alleged attempt to run for presidency, he said it emanated from his enquiry on the conditions to run for president in 2008.

He says he tried to seek an audience with Mugabe to tell him about the tragic human suffering at the height of economic meltdown, but people in Zanu PF leadership warned him that he was now “risking my life.”

Chipanga is however disheartened that in spite of expressing interest in a position whose occupant he had been barred from even meeting, “not even a special constabulary” had expressed interest in him.

He runs an unregistered organisation Messianic Apostolic Prophetical Inspired People’s Institution (Mapipi) as a church.

But then he also believes Plan International is one of the biggest churches in the country as they touch the lives of children and disadvantaged communities.

He however hopes to also use the organisation or rather ‘church’ as an agency through which he can give public lectures or rather sermons to get across all the knowledge of God’s kingdom as music no longer have the capacity to. Currently, he is using Facebook to get his message across.

Chipanga feels there should be no boundary to which field he should comment on or even try to influence as failing to do so will be akin to ceding certain areas to the devil. “The church should not give the devil branches to rule,” he said.

If he were to have it his way, women would get allowances for childbirth as they would be giving the nation a service by providing it with the future manpower, a far more important duty than driving tractors.

He wonders why people are quick to condemn prostitutes because “God looks at reasons and not actions.

“Why would you condemn women selling their bodies to feed children and not the system?”

His son Donewell, is a gifted musician who plays all guitars —lead, rhythm, bass as well as drums.  He is intimidated from following his father’s footsteps as he feels he lacks the inspiration his father has in song writing.

“I don’t know where he gets his messages from,” Donewell says.

Chipanga feels powerless to teach his son but hopes that if it pleases God he may one day give his son the inspiration he himself has.

Comments (1)

Rambai makadaro vaChipanga> Isu matsigiri venyu tinokusapotai zvikuru.

James - 9 July 2013

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