By Taona. T. Denhere
THE great African-American novelist, poet and essayist James Baldwin once philosophically said: “Music, is our witness, and our ally”.
The “beat” is confession which recognises, changes and conquers time. Music itself must act upon time, not lose itself to it; must stem itself against the empty flood.
The philosophical and pedagogical significance of this excerpt brings us to the politics of the rhythm as embodied in the currently trending #DemLoot’ soundtrack.
In the late hours of last Sunday Chin`ono, days after his release from jail where was detained for allegedly “spreading falsehoods prejudicial to the state” over the video of a woman whose baby was reportedly beaten to death by a police officer, in “solitary confinement” of his book laden study, echoed with a deep-throated booming vocal, a 55-second ‘Dem Loot’ song.
The soaring pyrotechnics of his voice was infused with the old dancehall chanting style accompanied and scaffolded with Shabba Ranking flavour in the yesteryear hit Dem Bow.
This is in many ways instructive given Chin’ono’s deep reggae roots. He has rubbed shoulders and interviewed some great Reggae artists like Luciano “Jah Messenger”.
Coupled with the fact that demographically the biggest consumers of music in Zimbabwe are the youths who are also sometimes known as the Zimdancehall generation, the millennials or the post-1995 generation.
#DemLoot is an expression of rebel art and, thus, follows in the rebellious and provocative sonic art steps of the likes of Fela Kuti, Thomas Mapfumo, Bob Marley, Peter Tosh and etc.
#DemLoot reignited the rebellious spirit in anti-corruption songs like Stop Corruption by Mapfumo, Cerambulator by Fela Kuti, and Them Belly Full by Bob Marley.
This is an art form that verbalises socio-economic concerns and the political desires of downtrodden subalterns who are preyed upon by the parasitic and vulturistic ruling elites.
#DemLoot casts focus on the unanswered questions of the dubious ways in which funds earmarked for management of the Covid-19 pandemic are being abused and misused by the Zanu PF government.
It is politically attuned to the prevailing social realities of Zimbabwean citizens. It has an obvious bearing on the urgent need for collective agency amongst citizens in holding the government to account.