Protest singer Viomak musicography

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Viomak is an epitome of artistic defiance against ZanuPF brutality and persecution and she is risking her life by harnessing art to improve lives in meaningful ways. She is a prolific song writer who through music and flamboyant activism has also dedicated her life in an epic struggle against child abuse and women abuse. Viomak is one of the most meaningful, focused and courageous singers of Zimbabwe today. She has inspired and empowered in a huge way with her protest music by speaking on behalf of the poor, the powerless and the oppressed. Her music is intended for benefits of her community rather than personal profit. Coincidentally her music hopes to create a philanthropic society that is organized to provide humanitarian assistance. Her generous assistance to the poor and victimized, as a benevolent contributor makes her a deserving heroine of the Zimbabwe socio-political struggle. She makes an effort to confront the situation in order to improve the lives of others, a fact that makes her activism outstanding. She is a volunteer worker who is always there to offer her services when needed, and she is singing for charity whilst raising awareness on issues that are troubling others. Viomak is self driven and she inspires those who are afraid and silent that they have a responsibility to do something about the suffering of others.

Her music defends the powerless against the powerful, and as the power in her music was experienced the music was banned and her voice silenced. If it was not for her songs of protest and liberation, many Zimbabweans would never have known the extent to which their rights are being abused by ZanuPF and Robert Mugabe. Her music is accurate in its reflection of a country which has more in common with Hitler’s madness than the United Nations’ concerns. Her music exposes human hostility and reminds the world of what happens to human dignity when freedoms become compromised. She believes that it is not enough to leave it to the unbecoming leaders to change Zimbabwe but that the message in music is more powerful than the oppressors’ words.

It is risky in Zimbabwe to speak out against politicians and Viomak has managed to break the barrier through music and epic activism. In Zimbabwe state media only report in favour of ZanuPF and Viomak’s music is a national form of communication as it informs of some important aspects of the unreported issues. Her music compels us to react emotionally and influences us everyday and it has a great impact on our lives as it stimulates our minds, and raises our political consciousness. Her music is a powerful healer that releases tension and enables us to search our inner feelings, and it lifts us to a higher point of consciousness and connects us with reality. Her lyrics are infectious and they make one form a bond not just with the music but also with her, with one another, and with Zimbabwe as they call for love, unity and understanding. The lives of the suffering Zimbabweans home and away remain a cornerstone of her music that yearns for the good leadership that Zimbabweans are lacking.

Even though her music is censored and banned, Viomak’s voice is not censored and she remains an icon of the Zimbabwe human rights movement. Her protest music is the first of its kind in Zimbabwe and is a human right that should not be denied in times of struggle as the songs confront the ills perpetrated by ZanuPF and the social immorality that has gripped the once bread basket of Africa . Her songs of struggle impact on Zimbabwe in huge ways and are like binoculars and a wake up call as they expose the human rights abuses affecting Zimbabweans. Her music also offers some solutions to the problems faced by Zimbabweans when she suggests what Zimbabweans can do to confront ZanuPF and Robert Mugabe’s heartless leadership. I would say her music talks as her protest music preaches the need for peace and justice and has the power to give people hope and the strength to live with the political crises they face on a daily basis. Emphasis on the impact of her music on the social and political experiences also rests on the fact that the lyrics are pregnant with meaning and her work has such a substantial impact in Zimbabwe as the lyrics uncover the dreadful political violence and social disintegration in Zimbabwe. Apart from the fact that her music is banned in Zimbabwe its impact on the affected community is huge as portrayed by those who listen to the songs and the humanitarian work she is involved in.

THE JOURNEY IN THE WOODS

The social conscience is slowly losing value in Zimbabwean music. A long time ago it was almost expected that artistes such as musicians would reflect on the world in their songs. While my music influences change and action against ZanuPF and bad leadership in Zimbabwe, today many young musicians are producing pornographic dirty music and many other funny, meaningless and irresponsible themes forgetting that like everyone else artistes also have a responsibility to speak for everybody in regards to socio-political change. I do feel there are a lot of great songs that can be born out of the times that we are facing. I am actively involved in raising awareness on the social and political crisis in Zimbabwe. Currently my music is seeing the darkness of night but there will come a time when it will see the light of day.

Music soothes the mind thus in these trying times appropriate music is the best therapy. Not that all musicians are avoiding meaningful music but some of the problems we are facing today are being neglected by the majority of Zimbabwean musicians probably because of fear or it is just about what makes them famous and financially rich quick and not raising awareness about what makes their nations better places to live. I have come across music that supports ZanuPF such as ZanuPF election jingles by Mbare chimurenga choir. I can safely say this collection is a compilation of rubbish cemented in nonsensical lyrics underlined by very good beats.

I use my music and artwork to expose human rights abuses, defend, promote and respect for human rights, freedom of expression, empathy, equality, and understanding. Music is also a human right. My music spreads messages that encourage Zimbabweans to fight for their human rights and live with dignity. As one writer said, Music has been, and always will be, a powerful indicator of the strength and enduring nature of the human spirit. When human rights are violated, and people are denied the right to live in a free and just society, music will always be a peaceful form of resistance. My music conveys emotion, and contemplation in its lyrics. It creates social cohesion. As one author said, artists have always been an active group in social movements across the world, contributing to calls for collective action, making powerful statements, and challenging popular beliefs all through creative methods that touch a broad audience. Whether consciously or not, they have changed the way we use the internet, not simply as a tool for gathering information, but as an expressive space in which people from across different spectrums can combine their passions for art and social change. Ultimately, electronic artists have democratized cyberspace by continuing to perpetuate the relationship between art and activism, using the internet to propel socio-political movements and speak to the global community about the struggle for freedom of expression.

My artwork explores the transformation of a country painted by years of human rights abuses into a global community that now proclaims that the way governments treat their people is a matter of international concern, and sets the goal of human rights for all people. Zimbabwe is in a revolution and my music has always been a great part of this revolution that speaks against inhuman behaviour and oppression. Ever since I offered my voice in support of respect for human rights and freedom of expression my music continues to speak on behalf of the masses of Zimbabwe and fights for their rights and freedom.

MY INSPIRATION TO PRODUCE PROTEST MUSIC

I was inspired to produce liberation songs following the political injustices and bad governance in Zimbabwe and the socio-cultural injustices around the world where children are neglected, raised in sexually immoral societies, sexually abused and raped and where women are oppressed and treated like second class human beings and in some cases as non entities as in the case of Zimbabwe as well. Producing music that criticizes bad governance raises awareness about the need for good leadership with people and nation at heart and the need for citizens to do something about it.

For a very long time Zimbabweans have been suffering political injustices such as torture and murder for opposing and despising ZanuPF and Robert Mugabe, starvation and many other injustices which I raise in my music. ZanuPF is dangerously corrupt and intolerant of diverse views so my music also speaks against oppressive laws imposed by Mugabe on Zimbabweans. The music also highlights the painful truth that ZanuPF and Mugabe are satan’s disciples and that Rhodesia under white rule was far much better than Zimbabwe under black rule.

The whites developed the nation and the blacks are destroying what the whites built due to evilness, selfishness, ignorance and incompetence. The creativity I use in the way I compose my lyrics is very effective and motivates others to also do something about our sad and desperate situation .The music is thought provoking and mobilises as it enunciates what it is to be under privileged, victimised, and oppressed. With my music I look at how freedom songs energize and pioneer change.

I strongly believe that one cannot be a good artiste if they don’t face socio-political problems. Learning from one reading, I continue to uphold the view that artistes have always been an active group in social movements across the world, contributing to calls for collective action, making powerful political statements, and challenging popular beliefs all through creative methods that touch a broad audience. My music affects the Zimbabwean arts industry in a positive way and many of those who hear it feel moved and some have even decided to fight for a similar cause and consequently do something about the suffering of others.

THE MESSAGES IN MY MUSIC

My music spreads political, social and cultural change messages. Being the voice of the voiceless I speak my mind and the mind of the oppressed Zimbabweans. My music strongly despises corruption, nepotism, promotes tolerance of views and political affiliation, love and empathy.

The music messages remind Robert Mugabe and ZanuPF that they have stolen, maimed, raped and murdered for the love of power at the expense of suffering masses. The music despises Mugabe’s bad leadership, disastrous policies, and neglect of the masses .On the other hand I remind Zimbabweans that they have a responsibility in their country, thus they should work together to help the suffering, love one another and work towards developing their country. At the same time they should promote freedom of expression by protesting against bad leaders and expose human rights abusers whenever they can. Basically my music promotes human rights, respect and love for one another, free expression, empathy and understanding.

My music addresses the human rights which are being infringed by the offending laws POSA and AIPPA through advocating for social and political change, whilst highlighting Mugabe’s corruption, cruelty, bad governance and incompetence, and what Zimbabweans should do and stop supporting bad leaders.

The messages also despise the degrading of Zimbabwean women by ZanuPF with some women using leaves as sanitary pads and many beaten and burnt on their buttocks naked in front of respectable others. The song Broken Buttocks Blues chronicles these murderous abuses. I am also a victim of such women abuse and threats have been sent to me by ZanuPF Lifers (HIV positive thugs) to rape and infect me with HIV and kidnap, torture and murder my family members. My artwork struggles against these abuses and raises awareness for ZanuPF to end the inhuman behaviour.

I come from a less privileged society whereby many Zimbabweans are living lives worse than wild animals whilst Mugabe and his colleagues notably Emmerson Mnangagwa, Constantino Chiwenga , Joyce Mujuru , Ignatius Chombo and Gideon Gono are living like kings with their families enjoying the spoils of curruption . It is only through raising awareness through my music and using my resources that I can be able to help others to live dignified lives. For any campaign to be effective and successful campaigners need the right tools and resources but unfortunately for people from societies such as mine lack of resources is hindering progress to achieve many goals. Zimbabweans need the exposure, expertise and right network to help them spread their work, circumstances in order to win the struggle against ZanuPF. I salute focused musicians like Hosiah Chipanga , Thomas Mapfumo , Leonard Zhakata for moving forward with the times, and showing great intelligence and maturity in their thoughts through their music. They are my favourite musicians because of the messages in their music that stimulate the mind towards socio-political change. Musicians kind of have the authority to step up and speak for everybody, and this is exactly what these musicians are doing as well. Being a victim of censorship, a socio-political activist, human rights defender, advocate for freedom of speech and protest musician I use music as an advocacy tool for social change and to encourage freedom of expression and opinion and to promote charity work.

My music spreads political, social and cultural change messages. Being the voice of the voiceless I speak my mind and the mind of the oppressed Zimbabweans. My music strongly despises corruption, nepotism, promotes tolerance of views and political affiliation, love and empathy.

THE MUSIC DISSEMINATION

To a very large extent Viomak’s music is targeted towards the murderous activities and ill governance by Robert Mugabe and ZanuPF and raises awareness to Zimbabweans and the international community to take heed and be part of the solution to the problems ravaging Zimbabwe. Viomak has posted some music albums to Mugabe’s offices and notably Mugabe’s right hand man and police commissioner Augustine Chihuri who responded by targeting her and threatening her with arrest saying she was churning out albums attacking the person of a democratically, popularly and legitimately elected leader and his ministers. She also disseminates her music through associates and volunteers in Botswana, South Africa, Britain and Zimbabwe who secretly distribute the music. Her website and social media sites such as My Space, You tube, Facebook and music sharing platforms such as Sound cloud and Whatsapp also provide platforms for her to disseminate her music.

She also disseminates the music through live performances at functions organized by human rights organizations such as ACTSA, Zimbabwe vigil, Free-Zimbabwe and Arts festivals and also through Voices of the Oppressed (VOTO) internet radio which she set up in May 2008. The radio station disseminates banned Zimbabwe protest music and other work deemed offensive to Robert Mugabe and ZanuPF. The music is also disseminated through interviews with media houses such as the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), SW Radio Africa, ThaZonet radio, Voice of America and No Lies Radio.

THE STRUGGLE TO RECORD VIOMAK MUSIC

The music is banned in Zimbabwe and Viomak stories are also banned in print media except for some independent newspapers not aligned to ZanuPF that make an effort to give her exposure. Online media platforms such as Kubatana, Freemuse, World Music Central, Ground report and magazines such as Music Forum (Australia) also disseminate the stories.

Viomak also pays for some adverts to be placed in the independent media to enable her to sell and distribute the music. In 2006 Viomak also intended to record her music at Gramma records ,one of the most popular recording studios in Zimbabwe ,but the engineer ,Peter refused saying their studio would be burnt and they will be put in jail by ZanuPF for producing songs of liberation. Viomak was later referred by an opposition well wisher to the secret studio where she records her music.Viomak assigned some people to approach The Herald newspaper to place music adverts to market her music and the adverts were declined. The adverts were later published in independent papers. After the advert, Viomak received endless rape and death threatening messages from ZanuPF stage agents CIO’s who wanted to meet with her on the pretext of buying music but she refused. The same men then went to one of the shops in Rezende Street, Harare that was displaying and selling the music and threatened to arrest TS who was helping to advertise the music.

As it became too risky to hide from ZanuPF and more danger pursued Viomak, she immediately fled for Britain through South Africa with her family. While in Britain unsuccessful attempts were made on her website as opposing radio stations are being jammed and the Zimbabwe government tried to ban the internet. The ZanuPF government has been forcing people to take down their satellite dishes and to hand in their transistor radios as the regime continues to silence and target opposing voices. The internet through her website is a great disseminator of her banned music for Zimbabweans outside and in the country .Since her music means jail or a hefty fine for anyone caught listening to it some Zimbabweans prefer to have MP3’s emailed to them, and for those who need hard copies they buy using the payment options through the website. Record sales companies have refused to accept her music for fear of victimisation by the ZanuPF regime.

This is music that is not played publicly due the risks of arrest, torture or murder. Being underground music as it is many listen to the music through the internet or through independent radio stations. Many of her supporters are therefore online and her guest book contains many interesting comments from fellow Zimbabweans and world wide supporters. One touching comment by a Mucha on 5 December 2005 show how desperate Zimbabweans are when she said, “May the whole world know today that we Zimbabweans have suffered more than any country on this planet earth. We used to think that problems were next door, but the snake has moved into our own house. Please world help Zimbabwe, the government officials are getting rich everyday and we people are suffering. We are now drinking our own urine and we are now letting our children to die because we can’t help them. The government has failed us. We need help. Please God come now and help us.” This is exactly what Viomak is also singing about as she believes that when men have failed divine intervention is the only other solution. Viomak also calls upon God to avail his power in Zimbabwe and guide Zimbabweans in resolving the economic, social and political crisis and heal this land in deep crisis.

One journalist wrote that Viomak is as skittish as opposition activists and journalists, who are being harassed and arrested under laws designed to quell discontent. Though Viomak is one of the country’s popular protest musicians, she now lives out of the country. John Mokwetsi entertainment editor of the independent Standard weekly, says local broadcasters seem to have “shut out protest music and drama altogether.” Despite the lack of media exposure, protest plays are still being staged and protest music is still being heard. Mokwetsi said that being banned, in fact, could make artists more popular. At a roadside bar north of Harare, people sing along to the songs of Viomak. The Zimbabwean government has long been intolerant of criticism, but since winning just a narrow victory in the general election in 2000, President Robert Mugabe and his ruling ZanuPF party have clamped down harder and harder on free expression. Many Zimbabweans want their musicians to take a stronger political stand against the growing repression and other artists as well should speak out more strongly.

There is an element of fear in people’s reluctance to speak out more strongly. Musicians in Zimbabwe are used to speaking in riddles, their words carrying hidden meanings that people understand but which aren’t explicitly critical as with Viomak’s songs .Many of us believe musicians should be more direct in telling it like it is as in Viomak’s protest songs of liberation. If our musicians sing about society, then surely there is no way they can avoid political matters. They should be social and political commentators too. Viomak remains defiant and says, Zimbabwe is my home and Mugabe should know that Zimbabwe was not created for him and ZanuPF so one day I will go back to demand our country and our dignity back.

THE STRUGGLE TO MARKET VIOMAK MUSIC

In the midst of all this sadness and madness it is an uphill struggle to distribute Viomak’s music. However, she is always making efforts to have her music out there and spread the word about ZanuPF atrocities. Her music has been sold in secret shops and offices in Harare and in South Africa outside markets where street people illegally burn the compact discs and sell the music. The music has been played and displayed at MDC-T opposition rallies but not without struggling to have the music played as their musicians such as Paul Madzore who sing for MDC-T only want their music played. The Zimbabwe Vigil at Zimbabwe House Embassy in Britain has played, sold her music and she has performed there as well. Viomak has also performed at Arts festivals and displayed her music and she has also performed at ACTSA rallies in support for Zimbabwe women dignity at Trafalgar square London. Free Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe prayer rally and Zimbabwe forum London have displayed her music and she has presented speeches during question and answer time. She has displayed her music at Amnesty international functions and she continues to use social media to share her music and her work.

 

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