By Bongani Ndlovu and Mkhululi Ncube
After joining the league of popular musicians like South African poet, Mzwakhe Mbuli, singer Freddy “Amadamara” Gwala and Zimbabwe’s late Paul Matavire, rhumba performer Chase Skuza has a story to tell about his seven-month stint at the Bulawayo Prison.
Skuza or Long Chase to his fans was released two weeks ago after serving for fraud. He had double dipped after selling a stand in Cowdray Park to two different people in 2015.
One of the victims found out and reported to the police leading to the arrest of Skuza who was then dragged to the courts. The court ordered him to pay nearly $3 000 to the victim and he failed, leaving them with no option but to send him to jail for seven months this year.
After this encounter, Skuza vowed never to be caught on the wrong side of the law.
Speaking to Saturday Leisure, he said time stands still when one is in prison as he shared his experience at Bulawayo Prison.
“Jail isn’t a good place to be. This is because you have no clue when the day starts or ends. Also, you’re totally cut off from society meaning that you won’t know what’s happening in the world. All you have is your imagination. In short, it isn’t a good place,” said Skuza.
He said when he entered prison, inmates and officers recognised him and requested him to pen songs about his time behind bars.
“During the first days, I trusted God for everything. I wasn’t afraid or frightened by being in prison as I took it as a man. These things happen in life and they pass eventually.
“Other prisoners and prison guards knew who I was and even asked me to pen a song about my stay, to show how harsh being in prison is. I promised them I’d fulfil their wishes, God willing.”
In the darkness of his prison cell, Skuza said this is where he was drawn closer to God.
“They gave me a book to write my songs when I was in prison. It really helped me to not think too much of my predicament. I believe that being there was like fasting. So when one is fasting, they concentrate on God.
“If I was outside prison, it wouldn’t have given me that time with God. At the end, I saw that it was all God’s plan,” he said.
What also brought comfort to Skuza during his stay in prison was being visited by fellow musicians.
“In prison, there were a couple of fellow musicians who visited me like Cornelius Moyo from Tukuye Super Sounds, Sotsha Moyo from Black Umfolosi, Clement Magwaza and Ndux Junior. They often came to comfort me and it was great seeing them.
“They showed kindness and remembered me in my time of distress which is commendable. As artistes we should show the same support to everyone.”
But in all this, Skuza commended his family for being resilient during his seven month ‘visit’ at Bulawayo Prison.
“My wife and children took my arrest and imprisonment well. It was part of life.”
Skuza said he was now working on the two songs he wrote while in prison as he wants them to be included in his upcoming album called Indlela Yempilo.
“One of the songs says: ‘Ukuthathwa kwami ngalelana ilanga ngangingaku lindile, kwakuyintando kaSomandla. Ngiyazi empilweni uma uphila angeke bekuthande bonke abantu ngesikhathi esifanayo, kini lonke abangingithandayo ngithi kini ngicel’ukubona izandla emoyeni, kini lonke abangizondayo, ngicela uxolo umang’wonile.”
When Skuza was imprisoned, many people said he had bad luck because this was one of the many incidents to befall him in his career. He was once reported to have beat up pirate CD street vendors, was grabbed by the privates by a female dancer in South Africa over non-payment and had his guitar confiscated for failure to pay a debt for clothes he took from a city businesswoman. However, Skuza said he believes it was just life.
“I don’t have bad luck. We can’t blame God as everything that I’ve encountered is part of His plan. There was a time when I performed at Whatever in Lobengula and the promoter paid me handsomely, but it was reported in the media that he paid me with isadijane (cow offals).
I’ve been called a violent person who beats up people who sell pirated CDs — I’m not such a person. I was just standing up for my property rights as the law doesn’t protect us,” he said. The Chronicle.