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Souljah Love’s dangerous dance with HIV/AIDS…Is the eccentric chanter’s latest hit an anthem for unsafe sex?

By Bruce Ndlovu and Mirirai Nsingo

”Babe ndiratidze CV…Ndoda Yeke Yeke, Yekederoo…” the lyrics boom from a nearby speaker. It is Saturday, December 16 in Harare. The venue is Wingate Park Golf Club and the occasion is Unplugged Zimbabwe -the last gig of the year.

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

The throng which started gathering when the sun was still high up in the sky has become a party obsessed legion as the shadows lengthen and dusk gathers.

Cups of alcohol, some held steady and some spilling in restless hands, are grasped by almost all in attendance.

The nimble-footed take to the dance floor, ladies gyrating their hips in provocative fashion while the gentleman’s feet try to keep up with the movement of waists that no longer seem connected to any other body parts.

Those blessed with two left feet can only watch on in envy. From the speakers Souljah Love’s voice, rough and commanding, invades the venue.

“Makuseni ese pandinomuka Mumba imomo inin handisikupfeka Aiwa ini hanisikuseka Protection handisi kupfeka,” the song goes. The lyrics, at a party that explicitly did not allow anyone under the age of 18, are certainly X-rated.

But the cheers for the track ring loud anyway and those that are still sober enough to remember the lyrics of the track try to sing along.

Far away from the posh Park Golf Club, in commuter buses and in popular city clubs, the tune is also fast becoming a hit such that even the conscious minded can absent mindedly sing along to.

At its core, the song glorifies unprotected sex better known as Yekedero in Shona street lingo and popularised by raunchy musician Bev Sibanda during her infamous ‘Andy Muridzo’ scandal.

In that crowd, excited that the good rainy days of December are finally here to wash away the misery of the first eleven months of the year, one wonders if there were any who were sobered by the lyrics spilling from the crystal clear speakers.

Released a few months ago, the song Yeke Yeke has been one of those songs that seems to gather momentum as the year draws to a close.

Suddenly it is now competing for space in December playlists with some of the festive season’s biggest anthems. Given the content of the song’s lyrics however, this should perhaps be worrying.

Souljah Luv has always been the Joker in the Pack, the wildcard who is just as likely to thrill with a bit of unexpected genius.

This, according to his manager, Jive Zimbabwe’s Benjamin Nyandoro, was the reason that the song was released in the first place.

“Basically that song is what we call disruptive art. This simply means within the bounds of one’s creativity, you do the unthinkable. That’s what that song is,” said Nyandoro.

However, despite the Jive boss’s hare-brained and madcap explanation, it is impossible to overlook how Jah Love’s lyrics might be a bad influence on the young or impressionable.

In a country that is heavily burdened by HIV, with cases of new infections rapidly rising in young people, HIV programmers can certainly ignore the song’s message at their own peril.

With the tune having been released at a time when the country is frantically fighting to close the tap on new HIV infections, it certainly does not help to have one of its most celebrated artistes singing so eloquently about, and glorifying even, unsafe sex.

It is a language that those fighting to combat the scourge would prefer he was a little less fluent in. The song would also be particularly frustrating for those that would have heralded Jah Love as one of the poets of the era with the release of his smash hit “Pamamonya Ipapo”.

That was an anthem for young Zimbabweans who see themselves as outcasts trying to fit into an expensive society that’s refusing to make room for them.

One struggles to see what and who this song represents. According to Nyandoro, the artiste’s intentions were pure as the song was not meant for consumption by the youth.

“You should also note that the song was not targeted at young people. The target audience is couples within a home set-up.

Those are people that are free to do as they please because they’ve got an officialised solid bond. This song was not meant to be consumed by young people,” he said.

Nyandoro’s explanations, as the man who was put in charge of cleaning up Souljah Luv’s act, are certainly targeted at a person who went for a brain transplant if ever there was one and the doctor forgot to put the brain in!

That is because, expecting young unmarried people, who probably make up the bulk of Jah Luv’s swelling legions of fans, to turn a deaf ear to such a song is asking a bit too much of his fan base.

Despite this, the Mbare chanter also has his fans who feel that he is not at fault citing that his music is perhaps just a mirror of the society.

“I think the song is an expression of a common feeling and that feeling is what makes fighting HIV and AIDS more difficult; the song refers to the problem so the song itself must be ok,” said a human rights lawyer.

Students and Youths Working on reproductive Health Action Team (SAYWHAT) director, Jimmy Wilford believes the level of risk perception amongst the young people in the country is high hence Chibaba’s lyrics might not be as hazardous as some would want to believe.

“While the song might have some unintended consequences, I am of the view that the level of risk perception amongst the young people in Zimbabwe is high,” said Wilford.

“Generally lots of advocacy and awareness raising has been done on HIV, it’s impact and what causes HIV and that can’t be washed away by a mere song from Soul Jah love!,” SAYWHAT director, Jimmy Wilford added.

Instead of going head to head with free spirited musicians like Souljah Luv, he argues that HIV activists should take them under their wing instead.

“Musicians can be engaged through their managers; in this case, music promoters can be engaged to enlighten musicians on the implications of such songs. The engagements should be mindful that Zimbabwe dancehall music thrives on controversy.” In any case, perhaps Jah Love’s bit of music daring is perhaps a reflection of how people have been lenient with him.

Souljah Luv is able to get away with a lot of things that his peers simply cannot. He’s the cavalier, everyday man’s hero.

One can’t imagine Winky D or Oliver Mtukudzi getting away with lyrics like that.

As the year draws to a close and the country joins the rest of the world in Yuletide celebrations, one wonders if his latest hit might have less than festive consequences for those who choose to follow his advice under the mistletoe. The Herald

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