Soul Jah Love: A complex, misunderstood artiste
By Bongani Ndlovu
Promoters who worked with the late Zimdancehall chanter, Soul Jah Love have described him as a complex and misunderstood artiste who was given a bad boy tag that he did not deserve.
The artiste popularly known as Chibaba, was pronounced dead on Tuesday evening upon arrival at Mbuya Dorcas Hospital. During his career that spanned over a decade, Soul Jah Love (real name Soul Musaka) captivated many people on the Zimdancehall scene and made some fall in love with the genre. However, during his time on God’s green earth, Soul Jah Love was followed by controversy.
He was said to have been a heavy drug user, a drunkard and hard to work with as he would pull no shows at venues where he was booked to perform. People like Mutare businessman, Esau Mupfumi went as far as getting him arrested for not pitching up for a show yet he had been paid a deposit.
In Bulawayo, in June, 2015 the artiste disappeared from the stage and after an hour, the venue – Palace Hotel’s Gardens degenerated into a war zone.
Fans armed with stones, chairs, empty alcohol bottles and the like pelted the stage. When they were done damaging the inside, they went outside, baying for Soul Jah Love’s blood where they pelted the windows of the hotel and cars that were parked there.
The promoter of this show, Assan Mandizvidza Mugumbate reflecting on his interactions with the late artiste said:
“Soul Jah Love was a very understanding person who’d have his bouts of being wayward, but generally, he was a great person to work with. “However, he was a person who when you’d book him, as a promoter, you had to pin him down and follow up with him always because if you didn’t do that, you’d have problems.”
Interestingly, two months before pulling his usual stunts at Palace, another promoter, DJ Phat Joe had hosted him at the same venue and everything went well.
Detailing how he managed to pull the show off, the DJ said he had to travel to Harare to get Soul Jah Love in order to ensure he travelled to Bulawayo. He said during their interaction, Soul Jah Love did not come across as the crass, druggie, bad boy that was being peddled out there as he met a jovial and easy going man who loved his art. “We went to Harare to get him because we’d been told that he doesn’t pitch up for shows.
We met him at his home in Msasa Park and he welcomed us. We paid him his performance fees which at that time was US$2 500. We didn’t have any problems with him,” said DJ Phat Joe.
Interestingly, he said the reason why Soul Jah Love did not pitch up at some shows was because of money. “During our journey to Bulawayo, he told us that most of the time that he does these things (not appear at shows) was because promoters would not have paid him or the money that he’d have been given would be little.
“I also realised that there was a challenge with some of his managers that he had as they would be paid his booking fees and not tell him. So when the day came for him to perform, he would boycott then people would start blaming him. We then discovered that it was better to deal directly with him,” said DJ Phat Joe.
The promoter said when they wanted to book Soul Jah Love into a hotel, he refused and told them he would instead stay with them. The whole point for this according to DJ Phat Joe was for Soul Jah Love to prove to him that he was not a problematic person like what people had been portraying.
What many did not know was the business side of Soul Jah Love because besides music, he owned a fleet of kombis, something that his manager for six months, Benjamin Nyandoro shared.
“One day when I went to see him at his place, he asked me to manage his affairs. I thought he was joking and after some thinking, I agreed. People may not know that Soul Jah Love had a fleet of kombis that plied the Mbare-Highfield route.
“This is a life that people didn’t know about Soul Jah Love. He was very business-oriented and this gave me the drive to expose him to more opportunities,” said Nyandoro. He said the bad boy image was likely because people could not separate his on and off-stage character.
“He would come out and say this and that or smoking this and that, but that wasn’t the guy he was. Soul Jah Love was a person managing his diabetic condition. When we say he was on drugs, he was on insulin, that was his drug,” said Nyandoro. The battle with diabetes, Nyandoro said was a tough one for the late artiste as he would travel with his insulin kit which had to be administered at certain times.
“While it wasn’t easy for him as an artiste to entertain the masses while battling diabetes, he would make sure that this didn’t overshadow the show. It was all about entertaining people.
“He would deliver, but under very trying conditions,” explained Nyandoro. He went on to describe Soul Jah Love as an extremely intelligent and complex individual.
Meanwhile, a family spokesperson of the late artiste, Solomon Musaka yesterday said the burial is provisionally set for Friday or Saturday in Harare as they are awaiting Covid-19 test results. The Chronicle