Is it possible for someone who lives their life in the public eye to have a private and even secret life despite the scrutiny that fame brings?
If one was to run a quick eye over the Zimbabwe showbiz landscape, probably the person best placed to answer this question is the man known as Winky D, the dancehall juggernaut who has dominated the country’s music scene over the past few years. If you ask those that follow him, be it the die-hard fans that fell in love with his chants when he was known as Wicked DJ or those that joined the bandwagon when he started churning hits like “Musarova Bigman”, they will tell you that they know Winky D.
He is the swashbuckling serial limelight stealer who has left countless foreign acts embarrassed after giving performances that make a mockery of the thousands of dollars they receive before they have even set foot in Zimbabwe.
He is that man who never puts a foot wrong on stage, with the mic in one hand while the other gesticulates wildly as he preaches dancehall sermon after sermon to his loyal flock.
On stage Winky is simply a dynamo.
While he is ever eager to lyrically jab or even stab an opponent now and then during brawls — the brawls that erupt between dancehall stars now and then, fans have never been at the receiving of any of his lyrical onslaughts.
Indeed on stage, despite what appear to be energy sapping displays show after show and night after night, Winky appears to an island of calm surrounded by a sea of chaos. Chaos generated by his awe inspiring performances.
But that is all Winky D. And therein lies the problem.
Off stage, who amongst the legions that follow him can claim that they know the real Winky D? Who, besides those that grew up with him, can claim to really know the man who was born Wallace Chirumiko almost 35 years ago in the dust of Kambuzuma.
Personal details about the life of the chanter are frustratingly scarce.
Many know that he was born and bred in Kambuzuma, went to Rukudzo Primary School and later Kambuzuma High. Hardcore fans will know that he started out as a small time DJ before his career gathered steam.
That, in essence, is all that is known.
At 34, no one knows if he has children or not. No one knows if he is married or single.
Are his parents alive, and if so does he take care of the people who raised him to be what he is today?
No sex scandals have spilled onto the tabloid pages and most of his feuds have been with industry colleagues. His social media pages exist only to dish out announcements about the star’s gigs or latest releases and he rarely grants interviews.
On the cusp of the release of another album and despite years of Winky D’s fame, Wallace Chirumiko remains largely a mystery.
Indeed, sometimes it seems a wonder that he actually told followers his actual birthday date.
While some inquisitive fans might be frustrated at the fact that they have no juicy bits to chew on about Winky’s personal life, to some this might seem like a blessing rather than a curse.
This, they might argue, shows that Winky is a craftsman focused solely on his craft. During these days were stars love selfies just as much as their fans, Winky is perhaps a breath of fresh air, as he is prepared to let his music do the talking instead of an eye catching picture on Instagram.
Over sharing, they might say, can be a curse.
However, some are wondering if the strategy to keep Winky’s life private is something that was planned or something that happened because of the star’s outlook on life.
“It’s a bit of both,” said his manager Jonathan Banda in an interview with Saturday Lifestyle. “The music is the mission and so with that in mind we did not want the details about his personal life overshadowing the music. When you decide to open up about life you never know how some people will receive it. It might bring about some controversies but that’s not what we want people to focus on.”
As of now, on the cusp of the release of his new album and as he is about to turn 35, it is safe to conclude that while a lot might be known about Winky D the musician, not a lot is known about Wallace Chirumiko the man.