Godwin Muzari Arts Editor—
Heroes are not made, but they are born. Heroes distinguish themselves in life, not in death. There has been so much talk about the hero status that revolutionary musician Cde Chinx will get, but those are just discussions. There is no doubt that Cde Chinx was a hero. He is a hero and will always be a hero. Never mind the level of heroism honour that he will get, he proved himself as an outstanding man who fought for the county’s liberation in many ways. Dickson “Chinx” Chingaira was not just a musician. He was a revolutionary musician. A hero who used music as a lubricant to the war during the days of the liberation struggle.
Cde Chinx will forever be remembered for the work he did through his vocals. His music will live forever and he will be known as a vocal fighter. My first meeting with Cde Chinx was casual. We were having drinks at Star Bar sometime around 2003.
It seems everyone greeted him when they came into the bar because we were seated next to the entrance.
Who could not recognise Cde Chinx? He was known and will always be known forever. He will forever be known for the revolutionary songs that he sang before and after independence. He will remain known for his unwavering fight for the emancipation of Zimbabweans. He will be known for his zeal to keep the fire of the struggle burning.
That was the language that he spoke when we met at Star Bar. It was just after he made a mark with his songs about the Third Chimurenga and he did not want to leave anyone guessing about the aim of the struggle then.
“Land has to go to the people. We fought for this land and Zimbabweans should have it. We have done our best and we will continue doing our best. The war was fought to liberate the people so that they freely enjoy the benefits. We are fighting for that now and we will continue fighting,” he said as we chatted over drinks.
I later realised it was his favourite drinking place and we were to meet there many times thereafter. All the time we met, Cde Chinx stood by his message. A message of liberation and emancipation.
In 2004 we were together backstage at the HeroeSplush in Marondera. It was a cold night and we were sipping our very cold drinks together at Rudhaka Stadium with fellow journalist Robert Mukondiwa. We spent some time together before he went on stage and after his performance.
The message did not change.
“We will fight until everyone is happy in this country Cde.”
He called me ‘babamunini’ or ‘comrade’. I envied his vision and consistency. His vision and direction were ever the same. After his performance we had drinks together. We talked, we joked, we laughed and we had fun. Then we continued with our unplanned meetings at Star Bar.
In 2010 I visited Cde Chinx at Lake Chivero where he had just established a fishery. He was there with his two wives and his boys were in the water doing the business. We spent about three hours with the comrade as he told me about how he was happy enjoying the fruits of the liberation struggle.
“We are here to do business. I come here every morning and my wives sometime come to support me. It is good to be doing what you want in your country. You know whites did not want us to be this free. They wanted to own everything and I am happy we have now made it. We are glad to have this freedom. We fought for it and we are enjoying it,” he said as he appreciated our presence then.
After several other meetings at shows and various events, Cde Chinx fell ill. He was admitted at St Anne’s hospital in 2015 and I visited him. He looked frail, but he had the courage to say strong words.
“This condition has disadvantaged me. I wish I could just jump out of bed and sing. I want to sing about empowerment. I want to sing about indigenisation. The President has spoken passionately about these things and someone has to take the message further. Music takes the message to the people and someone has to sing about it. I have recorded some songs on these topical issues but I would have wanted to sing and preach that gospel at recent national events.”
Between this bitterness and the pain, Cde Chinx cracked some jokes and smiled. He even sang some lines from his popular songs.
“Iyo iyo hondo yakura todiniko . . . We sang during the Third Chimurenga and supported the land reform programme. Some people opposed the programme but we sang until people realised its importance. We sang until some people from the MDC who opposed the programme expressed their interest in getting land. That is the power of music. I want to continue singing about patriotism. The pain might be excruciating but when I recover, I will continue singing to advance the interests of the people. Chaiti chauya chikopokopo, kutenderera kuseniseni . . . ” That was Cde Chinx. He did his best to hide the pain and show courage.
Even when he was in hospital this year and all seemed bleak, he never gave up. He would say words that showed courage. He did not want to give up easily. He was a fighter. When Zimbabwe Music Awards chairman Joseph Nyadzayo offered to give Cde Chinx a house as appreciation for his contribution to the music industry, the musician cried on stage.
It was at HICC and he was so touched by the gesture. Although it took a long time before the house could be completed due to financial challenges, Cde Chinx finally got the house in May this year. Although his condition continued to deteriorate, he remained hopeful.
He always said words of hope and he remained a revolutionary cadre throughout his life. May his soul rest in peace. His music shall play forever reminding other generations about the struggle for independence. A struggle that he fought and a struggle that has brought us this far.