REGGAE superstar Sizzla Kalonji has ditched his native Jamaica and relocated to Zimbabwe after being rewarded with a farm for performing at President Robert Mugabe's 86th birthday celebrations in February.
“I am here to stay,” Sizzla told the state-owned Sunday Mail weekly newspaper. “Zimbabwe is home. I have received tremendous welcome.”
His spokesperson Olimatta Taal confirmed that rather than pay the artist in cash for performing at President Mugabe’s birthday bash Zanu-PF handed the Jamaican a farm located close to the town of Chegutu.
"Instead of giving him cash (for his performance) they gave him land. It is very honourable that he would take land instead of cash," Taal is reported as saying.
“He is in Zimbabwe because he loves Africa. He isn’t pro-Mugabe or anti-Mugabe, but he respects Mugabe as a leader.”
State-owned local media was quick to extol the development with the Sunday Mail declaring that the artist "was the latest and most important visitor to be swayed by the infectious Zimbabwean touch".
Olimatta Taal also said Sizzla’s Zimbabwe move had nothing to do with allegations that he was on the run from Jamaican authorities for gun crimes allegedly committed less than a month before President Mugabe's party.
"He (Sizzla) laughed when he heard the allegations," Olimatta Taal said. "He doesn't take it to heart."
A Jamaican online publication said the singer – born Miguel Orlando Collins – was arrested by police in Saint Andrew, Jamaica, on 29 January in connection with a shooting incident. He was released a day later when witnesses did not come forward.
A police spokesman said then that investigations were ongoing and suggested Sizzla "could be detained in the future, if the need arises".
Meanwhile Sizzla, 34, has been quite effusive in his praise for President Mugabe urging the veteran leader to "champion the cause of the return of the African people from the gates of hell they are living in Jamaica and the Caribbean."
"I think he's a good president, kind to his nation, just and true," Sizzla said of Mr Mugabe last month.
The Sunday Mail also stated that Kalonji had since been granted with a work permit and was working to consolidate business enterprises he has established locally to complement his singing profession.
“In Zimbabwe we have already started recording. I am also looking into areas Judgement Yard (his company) can invest in for the upliftment of Zimbabwean youths,” Sizzla said.
The singer said he plans to set up agro-industries on his farm to help local youths under his Jamaican social responsibility banner and has also made enquiries about investing in the local textile sector.
Kalonji has since set up a recording studio in the plush northern Harare suburb of Borrowdale where resides and is working with local reggae groups such as Transit Crew to put together his debut album on Zimbabwean soil.