By Bruce Ndlovu
FOR a long time, Zimbabwean music has been a divided house. Artistes have always found which room they belong to in this vast house and when they did so they always took care to firmly shut the door on all that is happening in other parts of this property.
The sungura artistes group together, as do the gospel musicians, dancehall chanters and the rappers with their cousins in RnB. Of course through semi detached walls, artistes could always hear what was happening in other rooms. Whether they acknowledged each other’s existence is another matter entirely.
In such a divided house, it was not only inconceivable but practically impossible that Roki and Nicholas Zakaria, revered both in their own genres, could ever find each other breaking bread in the same room.
But this is exactly what they did on the song Amen, a DJ Shugeta production that might go some way in injecting a bit of life into the careers of two extraordinary performers that have not been in the headlines recently.
Amen is not merely a song; it is a prayer on a beat. The two musicians are in earnest conversation with the Almighty. For the purpose of this earnest talk with the most high, the two took their pens, pads and prayer books to the studio.
On their knees, eyes tightly shut, they ask whether their departed ones are in Heaven, they ask whether their country will see brighter days. It is a conversation that many, whether within the four walls of a church, at home or in a bush, have had with their maker.
In the studio, Roki and Zakaria go even further, diluting some of their questions and requests with praise. “We are your children, show us the way,” they are saying.
There is no doubt that Shugeta chose to unique voices to bring a new life to a subject that has been brought up often enough in the past, with the urban grooves pioneer and the sungura godfather trading smooth verses on a well made dance beat.
Despite the upbeat instrumental it is truly a gospel track. It follows a consistent theme from Roki over the last few months.
Some might be questioning whether the man that has been known for his waywardness in the past has really turned over a new leaf. Has Roki, that notorious bad boy and rascal of Zimbabwean music, finally a turned a corner? Has he found comfort and forgiveness under the Almighty’s wing?
One might expect the elder Zakaria to struggle on an instrumental that owes more to the nation of house music than to his native sungura.
In unfamiliar surroundings however, Zakaria does not fumble. Taking the button from Roki who delivers some of his vocals in auto tone, Zakaria glides over the beat. If one is impressed by the catchy choruses that litter Killer T’s songs, then they will be enthralled by Zakaria here.
The veteran is at home on the Shugeta beat, dispensing religious wisdom with the calm poise that sungura fans have grown accustomed to over the years.
How Shugeta got the elder statesmen of sungura to feature on this song is a story for another day. However, the collaboration and the excellence of his contribution speaks volumes of Zakaria. While some, kicking and screaming, have refused to accept new styles and ways of making music, Zakaria’s excellence refuses to be bound caged by genre.
After Winky D’s Ngirozi and Tocky Vibes’ collaboration with Kubata Kwashe Choral Group, it seems there’s a conscious effort by the country’s young artistes to break boundaries that have confined them in the past. In all of those efforts, the combination of the old with the new, the modern and the traditional, has worked and some will wonder why this was always not the case.
All these songs have one thing in common: they feature the young men associated with carefree secular genres questioning their existence and seeking to move closer to God.
A spiritual awakening by young artistes, no matter how temporary, would not be amiss. After all, they have the ear of the country’s young and perhaps their newfound wisdom can trickle down to their impressionable young followers.
After all his troubles in life, one would hope certainly that a bit of Zakaria’s knowledge would flow towards Roki. Sunday News.