Zimbabwe News and Internet Radio

Inside Zimdancehall’s drug abuse gigs

By Kennedy Nyavaya | Zimbabwe Standard |

At 7pm most Zimdancehall fans, particularly those fond of Soul Jah Love, that have been waiting outside are starting to jostle their way into the already filling Harare Gardens venue.

Soul Jah Love with former wife Bounty Lisa
Soul Jah Love with former wife Bounty Lisa

Soul Jah Love’s Zviripandiri Zvihombe album launch, which had been scheduled to commence at 3pm only started a few minutes ago with DJs warming up the stage for the massive line-up of artistes that are going to perform here tonight.

Unbeknown to most of those who have been outside the venue is that upon entry the security at the gate is in a no-nonsense-mood as they are confiscating any beverages and food purchased outside. There is no room for negotiation.

Immediately after the gate, a daring group is starting to gather in order to confront the bouncers, even ignoring the perceptibly vicious dogs they have, over the seized intoxicants.

“Dhanzi racho harizonakidze kana tiri sober so [This gig will not be fun if we are sober like this],” says one of the youths upon being searched.

Others are questioning the loss of up to ZWL$80 in alcohol worth over a ZWL$10 ticket to gain entry here.

Based on past experience, some say these bouncers will cash-in by reselling their drinks later as the night progresses, but although the claims are unsubstantiated, there were undesignated alcohol vendors deep into the show.

But, after a series of back and forth running from the gate, with some getting bruises from falling and dog bites, the confrontation dies a natural death as many accept their fate and shift focus to the stage.

This search mission appears to have been successful, but the laxity of this tight security is exposed later in the night when this venue is virtually turned into a crack house of sorts as a large part of the youthful crowd, determined to be high, start engaging in hedonistic tendencies.

Illicit drugs are sought and surprisingly readily available.

In no time, this packed space is virtually turned into a brothel, ostensibly exempt from the national laws that criminalise the use of cannabis, cough syrups and mutoriro (crystal meth) among other illicit drugs.

The indulgence of many is believed to be stemming from the joy of being in a euphoric mood similar to their music stars.

“This is the stuff that Chibaba [Soul Jah Love] is always high on nowadays,” said Simba as he holds up a glass pipe ingeniously made from a broken 3U LED bulb and duct tape.

Inside this make-do bong are small particles which when heated produce a smoke one must “gradually inhale until they are running out of breath before releasing through the nose” and that’s a hit, according to Simba.

The cost ranges from ZWL$7 to US$5 for a joint depending on the quality, he said.

How a supplier, like him, is managing to smuggle, market and sell such hard drugs inside the venue is unclear, but the liberty to access and use illicit substances within these confines is breathtakingly easy.

Even the seemingly hard-nosed security endured at the gate earlier appears to have gone off duty as clouds of mood-altering smoke ascend indicating the swift disappearance of decency.

The charged-up mood somehow befits Zimdancehall shows where artistes are believed to be under the influence as they chant lyrics in reverence of getting high.

“…Vachingovukura, tichingotonga, tichingoputa mbanje…,” goes some of the lyrics that are keeping the entertained crowd dancing with excitement for the entire night.

It is not certain whether Zimdancehall music influences abuse of drugs or the other way round, but the underlying factor is that the crowd’s pursuit of happiness in these environs supersedes the dictates of the law. The law is just blind to it.

Possibly, one of those expected to put a stop to the madness is the one in the driving seat, feeding off it.

Whatever the case might be, as the night unfolds it becomes clear that the uniformed law enforcers and bouncers are only around to make sure that no one gains free access, but what happens inside is not their part of their obligations.

So, one joint after the other, the youthful crowd smokes and sips the night away with no restraint or fear.