Zimbabwe News and Internet Radio

Will the real Viomak please stand up?

By Julius Masimba Musodza

Viomak is at it again. Through her publicist, Harriet Chigege, the self-aggrandising and rather pathetic harridan has launched a swipe at people who really do not care about her at all, denouncing them as enemies contriving with the internet to tarnish her name and derail her ambition to be “Zimbabwe woman president”.

http://www.groundreport.com/Politics/Rowdy-ZAPU-Europe-official-Martin-Chinyanga-Da-Wil_4/2931496

Who is Viomak? According to Wikipedia, “Viomak is arguably the only woman Zimbabwean protest singer and one of the country’s popular protest musicians, and she now lives in Britain where she successfully claimed political asylum. Viomak’s music can be obtained from hideout areas in Zimbabwe.

Some recording companies in Zimbabwe refused to accept her music. Her protest music is banned from the airwaves of state-owned radio and print media. Viomak has been likened to opposition activists and journalists, who are being harassed and arrested under laws such as POSA designed to quell discontent.

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”

No prize for guessing who put that on good old Wiki. Someone driven purely by the delusion that Viomak is a feature on Zimbabwe’s cultural landscape, when all evidence points to the contrary.  John Mokwetsi is not quoted as actually citing Viomak as an example of a protest. But, as I always say, why let the facts stand in the way?

Viomak has spared no effort to keep her identity hidden. She claims this is in order to protect those of her relatives still in Zimbabwe. Her real name has been suggested as Violet Makoni, Viola Makoni, Violet Makunike and Viola Makunike. I find the last one more plausible; in our last exchange on facebook, she declared that the fact that I knew her real name and was divulging it constituted further proof that I was a C.I.O. operative.

I first came across Viomak in a diatribe written by someone called Kwabena, imaginatively titled Open Letter to Viomak. In the finest tradition of American Black activists’ lunatic fringe, Kwabena  rants;

“You have found refuge in the belly of the beast, and to insult your own under the pretense you are fighting to liberate our people.  In Canada, you are standing on the soil of “native Indians” confined to concentration camps called reservations, and in your stupidity you have embraced your white liberators.  You have become the mouthpiece of those depraved beings who gave you completed access to their media to insult one of your own.  You fool, and I dare call you one because every picture of you I see you have bleached your skin to deny your African identity, out of self-hate, and you have got the galls to talk about the liberation of our people.  You, an idol worshipper of a demonic religion called Christianity whose devotees have been nothing but plunderers and murderers.”

The letter can be viewed on http://www.topix.com/forum/world/zimbabwe/TN7ABV0FP1EQVOGQE

This vitriol, I regret, is typical of a section of the Black community in the West, many of whom wouldn’t be able to point to Zimbabwe on a map but have plenty to say. As a critic of Mugabe living abroad, I spoke out against those who circulated this attack on various internet forums. I was impressed that someone was fearlessly denouncing the tyranny of the Mugabe regime. In 2007, I cited her as one of Zimbabwe’s living heroes on my blog. While ruing the citation, I have no mind to remove it.

I posted messages of encouragement on her website. She must have looked me up on the Internet because she eventually responded with a question about my book. And so we exchanged e-mails for a while, all mutual congratulations as emerging artists. Difference being however that I did actually emerge, while no one seemed to have heard of her at all.

Viomak
Viomak

She sent me signed copies of her work. I sent her a book. Then she asked me to write a review, offering to pay me £20. When I did submit a candid review, I got an e-mail from someone called Dennis to say that as he felt that the review was too short, I was not going to be paid. Being the magnanimous sort, and making nearly £600 a week at the time, I thought nothing of it. I am accustomed to Zimbabweans who seek my services then try and talk their way out of paying by casting doubt on the quality.

However, it was only then that I considered the possibility that Viomak’s status as vibrant voice for Zimbabwe’s oppressed masses was not as established as she would want people to imagine. This was further confirmed when, having asked me to find her an affordable videographer and I did, she was reluctant to engage his services. I am of the view that the reason all her videos are really PowerPoint picture slides is not that she is afraid to show her face, but she can’t afford to make a proper video.

After years of being “one of Zimbabwe’s most popular protest singers”, you’d think she would be in a better financial position than when she started out.  She boasts a team that includes a manager- presumably this Dennis- and a publicist, the bizarrely named Harriet Chigege. I suspect the latter to be Viomak’s alter-ego. There is no information about her at all except that she is “Viomak’s publicist”. At any rate, she is not a very good one. Her command of the English is hideous, prompting one of my friends to dub her Harriet Icantpunctuate.

The Standard may have given Viomak some publicity, but an article penned by Vuzumuzi Sifile which appeared in September 2009 sees the editor expressing regret at ever entertaining her.

“In terms of the mainstream media, I notice The Standard and The Zimbabwe Independent actually top the list of the media houses that have written stories about Viomak and her music. These are the same papers she has taken to demonizing online because now her stories can’t make it into the papers. I am not sure why my colleagues who used to cover her a lot in the Zimbabwe Independent stopped writing about Viomak.

“I should however, admit that for some time I blindly took her seriously. I was so convinced she was a serious protest musician and a much-needed voice against the situation prevailing then. The problem started when she was not forthcoming on searching questions put to her. At first she claimed that doing so would endanger her life as she was planning to come back home. I understood that and unsuccessfully tried to get her to be less evasive even in cases where such answers would be off the record. I was so convinced this was a professional approach to the whole issue.

“I indicated to her how difficult it was to continue writing about her when as a writer I had doubts about some of the things she claimed because in the end it would result in me not being taken seriously. It’s just not professional to write half a dozen articles about a person who evades pointed questions about herself. For example there is a time when she forwarded a whole lot of letters purportedly between her and the Zimbabwe Embassy in Canada.

“I remember asking her how she could reveal so much about herself to the embassy but be so unco-operative to journalists she is actually abusing for her selfish ends. I got an unconvincing explanation. About the same time I pressed her with more questions but she said she was preparing to travel to Zimbabwe. I still remember that subsequently a picture appeared in the Zimbabwe Independent in which she said was taken in Zimbabwe.

“It looked like a montage, fuelling doubts I had about whether she indeed had come to Zimbabwe. This even worsened my doubts about her. I decided there were more important issues to pursue than this charade.”

How did she take The Standard’s failure to recognise her talents?  The article continues

“Some time in 2008, I met artist Novell Zwangendaba who until then I didn’t know was close to Viomak. Zwangendaba told me that Viomak suspected I was a member of the CIO because of my line of questioning. I was outraged and immediately emailed her telling her how disturbed I was because I considered her utterances to be defamatory.

“I also told her how disappointed I was after all the effort I had made to bring attention to her work. I was then reassigned from Arts and Entertainment to hard news and features. This must be what she now claims is a ban by The Standard.  It’s almost two years since The Standard carried any story on her. It’s also more than a year since my last communication with her in May 2008 when I confronted her about the CIO claims.

“From that statement, it would appear like everything happened last week. I don’t know how she was going to reconcile that with the fact that I haven’t been at The Standard for eight months…… She suddenly became violent and started making all sorts of allegations. I then decided to ignore her. It seemed to be working until a few days ago when I read the statement she issued claiming she was banned by The Standard. I can’t remember who said this, but someone told me how some people use newspaper cuttings to justify their applications for asylum, and how Viomak was possibly doing the same, especially since she had moved from Canada to the UK. I think she just wants to get glory for a struggle she has never fought”

I stopped exchanging messages with her as I had more interesting things in my life. There was no malice at all. But I did have the opinion that Viomak was deluded, believing herself to be God’s gift to Zimbabwe. I too felt that she had built this hype around her in order to get leave to remain in the UK. She is not the only one to do so. I was not very comfortable with this, not with all the reports of writers and artists in Zimbabwe who are facing the reality of the regime’s repression.

What then caused the current rancour? It all started when she had a fall-out with Barbara Nyagomo-Mambo, Munashe Moyo-Godo and another lady whose surname is (Priscilla) Nyathi. Actually, the original fall-out was with the aforementioned ladies one side and Betty Makoni on the other. Viomak was named as an accomplice in claims that Makoni had diverted funds being raised at the time to help a Zimbabwean girl who needed a life-saving operation.

A few weeks later, I met Nyagomo at a meeting for Zimbabweans in business in London. She was in the company of a Dunny Derera, who was trying to form a credit union for the Diaspora Zimbabwean community. I became friends with these two. I have not been in touch with either of the two much of late, but I have been working with Barbara’s husband, Mike Mambo, on a proposed television soap. This is the same Mike Mambo that Viomak has been telling the world is incarcerated.

In a nutshell, this is where Viomak has issues with me- because I associate with her enemy. She has taken the fact that I don’t shower her with praises any more the same way she took the Standard newspaper’s reluctance to cover her any further. Viomak put it on the internet that I am in fact a C.I.O. operative working with the likes of Barbara Nyagomo to silence her. In fact, Viomak sees anyone who disagrees with her as a C.I.O. operative.

I posted on my blog a spoof response in the form of what I described as a leaked C.I.O. document admitting that I was indeed an agent.

It was meant to be a joke, but it appears to have been taken on face value by Viomak and her gang of crayon-wielding sycophants. I had no idea that we had so many Zimbabweans with mental-health issues on the Internet.

I have tried very hard to ignore these “exposes” by Viomak. The list of exposed agents of the Mugabe regime working to harrass her on the Internet is long. One thinks of Idi Amin, except of course Idi Amin was able to feed those he thought were his enemies to crocodiles in the Nile. Before, these purported agents’ motive was to silence her as a Mugabe critic but now she claims there is a plot to prevent her from being “Zimbabwe woman president” (sic).

What the hell is a “woman president” anyway? Is it any different from just a president? I have not seen the PSYCHOPATH’S DICTIONARY, so I would not know. The article on Martin da William Chinyanga, a man I have not met, is badly written.

” A rogue ZAPU-Europe official Martin Chinyanga Da William who has decided to represent ZANU PF Mugabe in the UK by terrorising anti-Mugabe singer, freedom of expression campaigner ,human rights defender and aspiring woman president Viomak is not looking back.”

This opening suggests that this article was written with no flair for the English language at all. It was apparently targeted at a sector of the population that can read, just not very well. The rather quaint use of journalistic catchwords, presumably gleaned from reading actual journalistic pieces evokes images of devotees of the Cargo Cult engaging in a mock US Army parade with rifles carved out of sticks. That English is not her first language is no excuse. It is not my first language either, yet see how well I employ the language.

Does the writer know the meaning of “tongue-tied”? What is a Shadow MP?!! I would like to know how it is actually possible to take a company by force! Even grabbing a farm is feasible only because you can occupy the land, but the actual paperwork is not something that passes hands easily. I asked Mike Mambo how this could be done, but he said he did not know either. I also asked him if it was possible to grab a company, why stop at a two-bit employment agency when there is Branson’s Virgin Group? 

Viomak, you need to get a life. This thing with you wanting to be President has nothing to do with me. I am not likely to vote in Zimbabwean elections in the foreseeable future, so I really am not bothered who gets to rule the country. I am more worried about things I can change from here or draw attention to such as humanitarian issues. As for smear campaigns, what could I possibly stand to gain from your success or failure?

I think you’ve lost the plot. You need to get a grip. You are at that stage in the fable of the Emperor’s New Clothes when people looked at each other and felt really foolish, before they all burst out laughing. You can’t blame me, Qubekani, Barbara, Conor, Zenzele, Shepherd, Petina or any of your other perceived enemies on that. This is stuff you are doing to yourself.

That said, let me categorically state that I am not a C.I.O. operative. Nor am I part of any “terror or “smear” team. Nor do I work for Barbara Nyagomo or ZAPU, or indeed any party. As the spokesperson for 1 Million Zimbabwean Voices Ltd, I must also clarify that the organisation was not formed by Barbara Nyagomo. In fact, she was only the second chairperson, the first being Mr. Dunny Derera.

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