Zimbabwe News and Internet Radio

Passion Java, Uncle Roland: the rise of celebrity from outrage

By Bruce Ndlovu

It took 58 seconds for Roland Muchengwa to become perhaps one of the most recognizable faces on both sides of the Limpopo.

Passion Java and Uncle Roland
Passion Java and Uncle Roland

That was the amount of time it took for him to appear on camera as two beautiful ladies waltzed in front of him while he recorded.

Prior to that “Uncle Roland” as he is now known to almost everyone, had been the hidden face behind the camera, silently filming as the two beauties displayed their dancing skills.

That appearance by Uncle Roland at 58 seconds, as he mumbled the lyrics of Samthing Soweto’s smash hit Akulaleki, “broke the internet” and made him an instant social media sensation.

In both Zimbabwe and South Africa, Uncle Roland became the buzzword. Before the sun had set in either Bulawayo or Johannesburg pictures of Uncle Roland’s “exploits” were already awash on the internet.

From the dark corners of the worldwide web, pictures of Uncle Roland dancing and frolicking with some of Zimbabwe and Mzansi’s finest were unearthed. In one picture the tycoon and social supernova was pictured with a crowd of underwear clad ladies, all seemingly crowding around their alleged “Blesser” for a priceless snap.

In another, he is seen with a white bed sheet covering him while a lady is nestled on his chest while another jostles for a spot next to her. In another picture, Uncle Roland is pictured in intense tongue action with a lady that again seems significantly younger than him. And on and on it went.

Fame, after such juicy videos and content, came fast for Uncle Roland, a tycoon that had already made a name for himself in Harare social circles where he has also been trapped by the camera lens on such occasions as Genius “Ginimbi” Kadungure’s famous All White parties.

“I never saw it coming that someday I will be every household talk. It all started as cyber bullying on Facebook, name calling and insults, then Twitter family turned it into fame. I’m humbled as I get celebrity reception everywhere I go,” Uncle Roland told our sister publication B-Metro recently.

More, he said, was yet to come.

“A big artiste in SA asked me to appear in his coming music video, it’s going to be lit,” he said.

While few will begrudge him his fame, some would see the irony in the fact that Uncle Roland’s 15 seconds of fame came while he was trying to dance and trying to sing along to a tune to a song by South African crooner Samthing Soweto.

As the festive season beckons, Samthing Soweto is the man of the moment, with his infusion of soulful melody into tracks by red-hot Amapiano beat-smiths Kabza De Small and DJ Maphorisa making him a dance-floor favourite. It is this combination of seductive melody and irresistible dance tunes that dragged Uncle Roland from behind the camera to what appeared to be an unplanned cameo in front of it.

However, while he is hot property right now, things were not always so for Samthing Soweto. He was once a football kicked from record label to label and left the group The Soil right before they achieved multi platinum success with their debut in 2011.

For over a decade, Samthing Soweto has shed blood, sweat and tears in search of fame. Now in his prime he has finally attained it. For some, like Uncle Roland however, with the invaluable of social media, that fame can come in as little as 58 seconds. Fuelling the fame Uncle Roland seemed to have attained with relative ease is the outrage that videos like the one that he made generates.

Many banged their keyboards furiously as they complained about why a man (Uncle Roland) was frolicking with women at least half his age. Others complained how the 51-year-old, rumoured to be a person of interest for battering his ex-wife while in Zimbabwe, was now glorified. It was like adding fuel to fire. The more the outrage heightened, the more his legend also seemed to grow.

It is the same kind of outrage that has made miracle making prophets the most watched socialites of the digital age. Over the last few weeks, the generator of the most buzz among the country’s ever-theatric prophets has been the self-proclaimed Swag Prophet, Passion Java of Kingdom Embassy.

In Zimbabwe and elsewhere around Africa, prosperity preachers have redefined what a man of cloth is. From feeding congregants grass to claims of miracle money, standards of worship have been changed and redefined by these Men of God who seem to have cast away old standards of ministry.

It has, of course, attracted the ire of those that see their behaviour as a contradiction of what is taught in the good book. But even by those standards, Prophet Passion Java is a man who stands apart from the rest.

He has been captured dancing to songs containing vulgar lyrics, flaunts his wealth without shame and has even coined phrases that are now part of the urban street lexicon. Last week, he was feuding with rapper Stunner. As his behaviour gets even more outrageous, his stock also seems to rise.

With the popularity of social media, it remains to be seen how far moral boundaries can be pushed by those seeking instant fame and celebrity. Sunday News