Soul Jah Love, Benji Nyandoro part ways

By Takudzwa Chihambakwe

As predictable as the sun rising from the east and setting in the west — the relationship between Zimbabwe’s favourite bad boy, Soul Jah Love and Jive Zimbabwe boss Benjamin Nyandoro, has collapsed.

Never far from controversy: Soul Jah Love
Never far from controversy: Soul Jah Love

Touted as a money-making machine, landing some lucrative corporate endorsements and featuring on high-profile gigs — the team has finally ended things.

The combination, disliked by some promoters and viewed by many arts industry players as a self-terminating move by Nyandoro – ended last year but none of the parties made it public.

However, after noticing Nyandoro’s absence at most of the chanter’s gigs towards the end of 2017, including a Zim dancehall awards ceremony in December last year, where Soul Jah Love was one of the winners, The Sunday Mail Society began investigations.

And after several conversations with band members, hangers-on, promoters and finally Nyandoro himself, and Soul Jah Love’s new manager Father Paris, it emerged the relationship had soured in October 2017 because of disagreements over money.

It is said Soul Jah Love expected a bumper harvest at his October 21 “Ndofirapo” album launch held at Stoddart Netball Complex in Mbare, but was incensed when the yields fell short of his expectations. He blamed the manager.

This is said to have led to some serious bickering between the two, which saw even band members getting involved as they bayed for the manager’s blood. Fortunately it ended without any bloodshed but the damage had been done, with Soul Jah Love saying “nobody got away with stealing from him” while Nyandoro insisted the allegations were “an unforgivable insult”.

We spoke to Blessed Vela, aka Father Paris, who is now the sole handler of Soul Jah Love’s affairs.

“Benji’s relationship with Soul Jah Love was very robust till after the album launch,” said Father Paris, adding, “Nyandoro was the one organising the launch and the Conquering Family had invested US$5000 into it. The day before the launch, Soul Jah Love and I were in South Africa for a performance and we only arrived in Zimbabwe on the day of the event – meaning that Nyandoro had been handling everything as he was the man on the ground.”

Upon arrival for the gig, Father Paris and Soul Jah Love were received by a packed venue, which is estimated to take in 4 000 people. The gate charge was US$5, and who would blame Soul Jah Love for seeing himself with super profits after the event?

“Trouble then came when we were doing reconciliations after the show. The ticket stubs were not tallying with those sold and above all, we had made a huge loss.

“On top of the US$5000 we had invested in the event, Nyandoro informed us that we were supposed to pump out an extra US$2000 to payoff more expenses.

“This did not go down well with Soul Jah Love who felt he had been duped as he had performed in the packed venue. Nyandoro then failed to give an explanation that convinced Jah Love, so he was asked to leave the family,” explained Father Paris.

Father Paris, however, revealed that Nyandoro played a critical role in the family during his tenure as manager.

“Nyandoro might be out of the picture now but we commend him for the ideas he brought to the family that ultimately improved Jah Love’s brand.

“I learnt a lot from him and when I look at the structures he put up, I always marvel. He is a shrewd manager who knows how to go about his business,” said Father Paris.

In a telephone interview with this writer, Nyandoro said he had amicably parted ways with Soul Jah Love whom he calls Makuruwani, one of his many monikers.

“Indeed we are no longer together but it is something I thought would fly under the radar because we had many projects that were coming Soul Jah Love’s way which we did not want disturbed.

“He is in the capable hands of Father Paris, his very close associate who assisted me in carrying out my managerial duties – I believe that there is continuity, which is the capacity I hoped to build within Soul Jah Love’s camp anyway,” said Nyandoro.

He, however, refused to be drawn into commenting about the missing funds, which led to the split, promising to bring full details. By the time of going to print, the Jive Zimbabwe boss had not made good on his promise.

Nyandoro has become another statistic in a long line of managers that have tried to work with Soul Jah Love over the years.

From Changara, the man that picked him up from the dustbins of music in Mbare and dusted him, to his own wife Bounty Lisa, no one seems quite suitable for the job, as one-by-one they have all fallen by the way side.

Meanwhile, Father Paris has blasted music promoters, saying they are the ones that make Soul Jah Love look bad when in fact, they are the ones that change goal posts, resulting in abandoned or unfulfilled shows.

“People always say Jah Love is stubborn, he does not attend shows or comes through late leading to fans protesting as they demand to see Chibaba on stage. Let me make it clear today, in 2017 Soul Jah Love was not the one to blame,” he said.

Added Father Paris: “When promoters approach us we agree on a time to perform and we sign a contract. The problem is that most of these promoters tend to shift performance times.

For instance, on the night of the Harare International Carnival bash, we were told that we would go on stage at 6am. So Jah Love went home and slept.

“To my shock I was then told that we were now performing at 1am and that was midnight.

‘‘I rushed to pick up Jah Love and we only managed to get to the venue at 1.30am, by then the gig had been abandoned because people had thrown missiles on stage demanding to see Jah Love. So who is at fault?”

Father Paris also said fans should look out for more chart-topping singles from Soul Jah Love in 2018.

“The track that can match or even surpass ‘Pamamonya Ipapo’ is ready. We have videos coming as well as some international collaborations plus another album,” he revealed. The Sunday Mail