By Takudzwa Chihambakwe
The Soul Jah Love vs Benji Nyandoro soap opera has taken a new twist.
Bad boy, Soul Jah Love, who was in the papers last week for wife-bashing and alleged hard drugs abuse, seems to be adding more depressing episodes to his never ending real-life drama.
In our last edition, the chanter’s new manager, Father Paris, stated that Nyandoro had been fired on allegations of stealing money after a highly attended gig in Mbare.
However, Nyandoro, who runs Jive Zimbabwe, a one-stop shop for local arts development, public relations and events management, swears he has never stolen a dime from any artiste he has worked with.
In fact, he claims to have actually raised over US$100 000 for Soul Jah Love in the slightly over five months he was with him and that he is still owed a substantial amount in management fees by the chanter.
Nyandoro believes his problems with Soul Jah Love surfaced when the chanter realised that the 10 percent he had agreed to pay him was not a percentage of a few hundred dollars which he was accustomed to, but that of over US$10 000.
“When I joined Soul Jah Love, he insisted on a contract. I commend him for that because it made him the first artiste to actually feel obligated to pay me for my work. Everyone else I had worked with before preferred that I do charity for them.
“However, I do not think Soul Jah Love expected me to make him that much money and that he would have to pay me 10 percent of it. I made him over US$100 000.
“So he owes me a substantial amount and that might have scared him, especially if he was not saving the money or investing it elsewhere,” said Nyandoro.
The Jive Zimbabwe boss said the “Zvinhu” hit-maker did not realise that money was never the primary objective when he agreed to manage his affairs.
“I knew I was not going to be his manager forever, my plan was to do one year, with clear milestones to rebrand Soul Jah Love, put in systems and create a stable and consistent income through long-term deals with corporates. Every time I work with an artiste, the objective is to take them to the next level using our methodology.
“Unfortunately, October 21, 2017 was a test for both of us and we failed. I felt the allegations were an insult and decided to withdraw my services. Contrary to the word out there, I was not fired, I withdrew my services,” said Nyandoro.
He continued: “I will not labour much on the allegations because it all comes down to ‘your word against mine’ – a blame game. However, there are specific strong points I read from the story published in The Sunday Mail Society last week . . .
“On the issue of $5 gate charges, we probably sold 50 tickets and had to announce on stage a price reduction to $3. Further affected by the doubt of whether Soul Jah Love was really around after word that he was in South Africa, tickets only started moving well after midnight.
“Which brings us to the poor and irresponsible decision made by Soul Jah Love to accept a gig in South Africa on Friday 20th (October) and have an album launch the following day in Zimbabwe. I strongly advised against the decision, which came with huge consequences.
“The South Africa gig was a huge flop that then affected their timeous return for the album launch. His trusted lieutenants, those assigned to revenue collection, who were also the key people in planning, only arrived back in the country on the day of the launch at 10pm. Jah Love himself arrived at the venue for the first time at 2am, just before going on stage.
“We had no systems in place. That made us porous. We lost money through weak checkpoints as we had to engage the services of strangers on the same night. Soul Jah Love knew what we were getting into and I forewarned him of the likely consequences. Unfortunately the show had to go on regardless.”
The rolling stone ex-manager also disagrees with Father Paris’ claim that the Conquering Family had invested US$5 000 into the album launch.
“Another strong point raised is that Soul Jah Love invested $5 000. That is not true. I fund-raised for the album launch and made sure all expenses were paid for. It is a pity that Soul Jah Love then took all the gate-takings and never bothered to even pay the artistes that performed on the day.
“It was difficult to even make sure his own band members got paid. Sad to say that the live band team that we had set up was on the day told not to perform after month-long rehearsals, because he felt it was an unnecessary bill. They never got paid, I suppose the live band route is now history.”
However, Nyandoro is happy with the little headway he had made in changing the artiste’s life.
“My arguments to convince Soul Jah Love to open his first bank account came out as ridiculous to him. Asking someone to start to accept payments via bank transfer, when you could easily set cash terms on a deal. This was important to achieve proof of income. I needed proof of consistent income to qualify for mortgages and bank loans. I was getting there.”
Nyandoro says had there been other handlers for Soul Jah Love while he concentrated on making money – it could have been much more.
“Getting Soul Jah Love on stage accounted for 90 percent of my effort, the remaining 10 percent would go towards ensuring that we stick to agreed performance sets and that we get paid. Getting the guy on stage came with its fair share of challenges, just to mention the Beitbridge fiasco, Kadoma no show, Marondera, Mhangura, Masvingo and PaGango Truck Inn breaches.
“I have since reached out to most of the affected and apologised. Soul Jah Love is a huge talent. A well that never runs dry, but unfortunately the water is contaminated. Still I receive booking calls and politely redirect them. I wish him and his team well,” said Nyandoro.
In papers gleaned by this publications, Nyandoro has records of every transaction that took place since he joined Soul Jah Love in May last year. He also has paperwork for the bank (name withheld) that had shown interest in giving Soul Jah Love a US$200 000 mortgage facility, which now looks highly unlikely.
In an interview with this publication last year, Soul Jah Love acknowledged the positive change Nyandoro had brought to his band.
“It has not been long, but in the short space of time we have been together, Benji has already changed a lot in the band . . . He is a dedicated and energetic man who has already brought a vast difference in my affairs. The graph is growing and I’m travelling around the country be it for gigs or meetings and Benji is part of this,” said Jah Love, born Soul Musaka. The Sunday Mail