When Winky D’s fears came to pass as artistic freedom of expression was stifled

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By Darlington Gatsi

IT was on a Saturday evening with Damview in Chitungwiza providing a perfect scene for merry making.

Multitudes of music revellers had thronged the luxury spot in Chitungwiza for a much anticipated date with Zimdancehall guru Winky D.

This outing signalled Winky D’s first since his release of Eureka Eureka album in January which divided attention from politicians and music lovers owing to its deep lyricism and social commentary.

The event dubbed the ‘thank you show’ was a way for Winky D to pay homage to his supporters after the successful launch of ‘Eureka Eureka’ in Harare.

Carnival atmosphere was created with Winky D’s  protege Tocky Vibes and Saintfloew curtain raising for the maestro.

Veteran Hip-Hop star Desmond ‘Stunner’ Chideme had been roped in by the organisers to prop up the VIP section.

Winky D came on stage late into the night announcing himself through his latest song he featured Dr Chaii, ‘mu spirit’.

However, his act was cut short after Zimbabwe Republic Police disrupted his performance after belting ‘ibotso’.

The disruption invited rage from the Ninja President’s multitudes of supporters who threw missiles on stage singing derogatory songs against police officers.

Interestingly his fears in the opening of the song manifested in a matter of minutes.

“Ini ndiri muimbi chete handina pfumo handina bakatwa. Musandikanda pasi kunge hakata,” sang Winky D.

The Chitungwiza skirmishes have reignited debate on artists and freedom of expression.

An academic and author, Professor Fred Zindi says the recent disruption of Winky D’s show is a clear testament that the freedom of expression is slowly being closed for artists a reminisce of colonial era.

“What happened in Chitungwiza at the weekend shows that the democratic space is closing in view of the forthcoming elections. The song Ibotso rattled the authorities and has made Winky D a marked man. Zimbabwe is definitely going back to the Smith and Mugabe era where anyone who had an influence on the public against their regimes would either be banned or incarcerated.

“With elections looming, any politically conscious popular musician who sings about what is deemed to be anti-government sentiments becomes an enemy and the government will try and suppress this thinking,” said Professor Zindi.

In January voices emerged from Zanu PF to ban Winky D’s music saying his music causes despondency in the country.

Media critic and social commentator Lazarus Sauti says the muzzling of artists’ is of greater concern and their prowess should not be restricted.

“Conflicts that have recently broken out between the police and Winky D over the song Ibotso a blatant example of Zimbabwean authorities’ attempts to silence the voiceless. The right to free speech is being restricted. The song is a social commentary that reflects Zimbabwe’s daily problems rather than being politically tinged as many have claimed.

“Expression should be unrestricted for artists. There is no reason to impose restrictions on them. In the case of ‘Ibotso’, Winky D did not promote violence. While he sang ini ndiri muimbi chete, handina pfumo handina bakatwa he advocated for peace. Instead of going after artists, we should just examine ourselves, strengthen our governance, and better everyone’s lives in Zimbabwe,” said Sauti.