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Cde Chinx (1955-2017): One of the last anti-imperialist artists to come from Zimbabwe

By Lenin Tinashe Chisaira

The revolutionary artist and veteran of Zimbabwe’s liberation struggle, Dickson “Cde Chinx” Chingaira breathed his last on 16 June 2017, a day when Africa commemorates the 1976 massacre of black school children by apartheid forces during the Soweto Uprising.

Dickson Chingaira, aka Cde Chinx
Dickson Chingaira, aka Cde Chinx

Cde Chinx was not only a veteran of Zimbabwe’s liberation struggle, but a talented artist who chose to use music to advance the struggle against imperialism both before and after independence. It is not surprising that he was side-lined by the government. The post-independence Zimbabwean government had not hesitated to throw away a Leadership Code or to adopt the western-inspired Economic Structural Adjustment Programme (ESAP) of the 1990s.

His key songs highlight the victorious fight against colonialism and settler rule (Maruza Imi), the fight against a government that was losing the socialist way of the liberation struggle (Rojer Confirm) and the importance of united struggles against imperialism waged by the exploited people of Asia, Africa and Latin America (Vanhu Vese vemuno muAfrica).

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In his personal life, he died almost a pauper without any social welfare benefits. He also could not get medical assistance of note in a country where the leaders rush to treatments in foreign destinations. The house he built was razed down as an illegal structure in independent Zimbabwe.

Zimbabwe has seen the number of artists surging up, manly as a result of democratized production of music especially by the Zimdancehall movement. However, the lack of ideological clarity also has seen these artists initially singing pro-poor songs, but within a few days of success, these artists resort to singing nonsensical music about sexual and drug escapades as well as materialist aspirations like flashy cars, money and clothes.

Cde Chinx never did that, although at certain times indeed he had to join the throngs of hapless artists who would praise-sing for the Zanu Pf government under the guise of anti-Western politics in order to get recognition and food on the table.

In nutshell, many obituaries will likely be written about Cde Chinx. However, it is worthwhile to note that he, alongside the self-exiled Thomas “Mukanya” Mapfumo, Leonard Zhakata and Hosiah Chipanga, have been the last voices of truly conscious revolutionary music in Zimbabwe. Adieu Cde Chinx.

(Lenin Tinashe Chisaira is a writer, lawyer and activist based in Harare. he blogs at www.cdetinashe.blogspot.com and www.africafightnow.org and tweets at @LeninChisaira