Spare a thought for Cde Chinx

HARARE - November 15 has earned a place in Zimbabwean political historiography for a number of reasons.

Having been there when it happened is an honour for most Zimbabweans as they will be able to tell it to future generations.

It was a day when Zimbabwe’s only leader then since independence, Robert Gabriel Mugabe, was put under house arrest following a military intervention to “restore legacy” in an operation known by the same name.

As the military made announcements on national television, the musical interludes were dominated by liberation war songs mainly from the late Dick “Cde Chinx” Chingaira.

Cde Chinx

the late Cde Chinx

This set me thinking about this illustrious hero who died at West End Hospital in Harare on June 16, 2017 and was buried at Glen Forest Cemetery after being declared a liberation war hero.

Many Zimbabweans thought Cde Chinx would be declared a national hero with Mugabe deciding otherwise.

Given Cde Chinx’s immense contribution to the struggle for liberation and also in the post-independence era, he is one of the many whose status should not have been debated at all.

However, this is already water under the bridge. Perhaps the new dispensation should go back and revisit Cde Chinx’s status and give him national hero status.

There are so many national heroes who had been buried in Mozambique but their remains were exhumed and reburied with befitting honour at the national shrine.

The likes of Leopold Takawira, Herbert Chitepo, Alfred Nikita Mangena and Josiah Magama Tongogara among others had their remains interred at the national shrine at after independence.

There would entirely be nothing wrong in bringing back the debate around Cde Chinx’s hero status and there is likely to be a convergence of ideas on this.

Those who listened to the late hero’s songs that were played on the first day of the current dispensation would be forgiven for contesting the decision to deny the popular artist national hero status.

Cde Chinx joined the war for Zimbabwean liberation movement in 1975. In Mozambique, Chinx was deployed to Takawira Choir whose duty was to create music in order to boost guerrilla moral during training. When the leader of the choir Cde Mhere Yarira was transferred to Tanzania, Cde Chinx took over and renamed the group, which was named to honour the late Takawira, to Zimbabwe African National Liberation Army choir (Zanla Choir).

In 1980, Cde Chinx returned to Zimbabwe and joined Ilanga. I remember this period vividly as I witnessed the master of song being applauded by students at the University of Zimbabwe for the tracks Ngorimba, Zvikomborero and Nerudo, among others.

Cde Chinx later joined Mazana Movement and continued producing hits like Hokoyoyi and Vanhu vese vemuAfrica.

Roger Confirm, produced in 1989, was to become Cde Chinx’s signature tune.

This hit gained Cde Chinx the popularity and fame which he enjoyed until his death on June 16, 2017.

There are a number of people who are interred at the national shrine whose contribution does not surpass that of Cde Chinx.

When some of Cde Chinx’s earliest compositions like Maruza Vapambepfumi are played, they drive the listeners back to the days of the liberation struggle, recreating the discourse of plunder, denigration and segregation that was a distinctive feature of the racist Rhodesia regime.

For all this Cde Chinx needed to be honoured and it is surprising that Mugabe denied the popular artist national hero status. Probably the new government led by President Emmerson Mnangagwa will consider this and revisit the discussion.

According Cde Chinx national hero status would go a long way in placating one of the restless souls of Zimbabwe’s liberation history.