Classic: Leonard Zhakata – ‘Mugove’

Leonard Zhakata

When Leonard Karikoga Zhakata released his sophomore album ‘Maruva Enyika‘ in 1994 he became the youngest Zimbabwean musician to sell more than 100,000 copies of an album (At that time he was just 26 years old). One of the tunes on the album gained very quickly popularity: ‘Mugove‘ (‘Fair share’), a political song that addresses the societal inequality and criticizes the corrupt elite. ‘Mugove‘ was an outspoken critic of the country’s corrupt elite at the time. During the 1990s Zimbabwe experienced economic hardship as the country was forced to apply Economic Structural Adjustment Programs, foreseen by the IMF and the World Bank. There were large scale protests by university students and strikes organized by public sector employees (SAHO). Zhakata’s lyrics resonated among Zimbabweans in a time when the civil society was beginning to become more vibrant.

After his sophomore album, many of his songs were blacklisted by the government. But he continued to sing the tracks in live concerts: “It is my hope that my music will remain provocative and create debate among the Zimbabwean society. As a musician I have the duty to serve my people, to sing about what I see around me, to sing about one man’s injustices to another, to rebuke those who manipulate others by virtue of being in powerful and authoritative positions.” (Freemuse)

In ‘Mugove‘ the artist exposes electoral processes as unfair processes that do not give equal chances to everyone. At the end, the lucky ones share the resources among themselves:

Inga vaye vaye vaye, Vakawana mukana wekuvepo pamusoro  (You know those other people got a chance in higher positions)

Vakaita mhanza yekukwirepo pamusoro  (They were fortunate to get elevated to high positions)

Kwakuchitora mukana uyu sehuchenjeri  (Then they take this chance to their advantage)

Zhakata’s words lyrically condemns the fraudulent and hypocritical conduct by office holders that cultivated a corrupt political culture:

Usazvinyepere usazvifadza nenhema  (Don’t lie to yourself, don’t use lies to make yourself happy)

Usazvifurire uchizviita makoya zvose  (Do not convince yourself of the wrong things)

Usazvifurire uchizviita shasha yevose  (Do not convince yourself making yourself expert of everyone’s life)

Vaye vaye vaunodzvinyirira  (Those whom you oppress)

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