Yesterday a hero of the people was laid to rest to rest in Warren Hills. It is often that after a person has been proclaimed a hero, the government has spoken to the citizens in a manner that insinuated that mourning was a requirement but in the case of Soul Musaka none such actions were needed. From the moment the news got out, the country was truly plunged into sadness. I don’t think anyone could’ve predicted how much the loss of Soul Jah Love as he was popularly known would impact Zimbabweans. Across the divide people were deep in mourning and Sauro as he called himself was the topic on everyone’s mind.
There is so much more that is said in death than those words shared in life because death has a way of doing that. Hindsight instantly hits you like an avalanche and they are countless things you think could’ve be different. It’s the way the finality of loss changes your priorities in a single moment. I would go into the details of Soul Jah Love’s death but that’s not important at this time. Whatever way he went it’s not significant at this point to me because it doesn’t make him any less dead. But then many different people are choosing to dwell on one or another particular aspect of the way he passed.
Some have chosen to point out that his death was due to poor healthcare services and that those who gave him the honour of “hero status” in death were responsible for destroying the systems that should’ve been there for him in life. While others have chosen to point fingers at Soul himself and how his drug addiction may have been the direct cause of his shortened life. And another group has taken aim at all Zimbabweans in general, for not supporting artists, for not appreciating the greats while the lived and for being the reason Soul supposedly couldn’t afford insulin. As I’ve said before there’s so much more said in death.
I didn’t know Soul beyond the music, the only insight I have into the man is the window he gave us into his soul through his words. Well besides being a musician I also knew him as one of my mother’s favourites clients at her pharmacy. It was her excitement everytime when he came to get his insulin that always got me. Zimdancehall came about as genre of music for the youth but artists like Soul ensured it transcended age groups in growing its listeners.
One memory I’ll forever have linked to him is being at Mega 2 and singing along to “Ndini uya uya” at the top of my voice with my good friend Tanya. We thought we still had an eternity ahead of us but this year it’ll be 5 years since Tanya left us. Soul’s death hits home as another painful reminder that we don’t have the time we think we have. I could point out his other hits that marked my life like “Pamamonya Ipapo” or “Kana Ndafa” but it doesn’t feel like it’s important enough. A decade of giving us music and shaping the colloquial language of a nation while inspiring the ghetto youths but the man was more than his music.
Losing his mother at a very young age he would be raised by his aunt then grandmother, eventually ending up with his father and step mother after both his aunt and grandmother had passed away. He would go on to lose his twin brother and then his father a year later, his stepmother would end up kicking him out after his father’s death and with no relatives willing to take him in he would find himself living on the streets. Yet through all this adversity and pain, he would triumph, rising to the pinnacle of Zimbabwe’s music industry. From the streets to a cult heroe. Often calling himself “Chigunduru” referring to his time as a street kid.
Yet after achieving that success life wouldn’t suddenly be roses and chocolates for him but he still had many demons he fought that plagued him with sadness. He spoke about it in interviews but we didn’t take as much notice as we should’ve. He spoke about it in his music and we all thought that those around would get him the help he needed. But maybe we should’ve done more. The gift of hindsight allows you to see the bigger picture but at the time Sauro seemed like just another talented figure who had let the success get to him.
His posthumously released song “Ndichafa rinhiko?” paints the picture of a man who was in pain and felt betrayed as the sun set on his life. So many questions has he left of the minds of people but he can no longer provide us with answers. So many assumptions about him but he can no longer deny or confirm these. Those of us who were fans are left with the music and his friends & family carry on with the families.
They say artists are celebrated more in death than when they but I don’t subscribe to that way of thinking. For a decade Soul was embraced by the masses and his music was played in every corner of the country. If he was in Mutare, Mutare came out in support, if he was in Victoria Falls then Victoria Falls would be there. It’s only that in death we come together in the same moment to appreciate the greatness.
RIP Soul Musaka, Soul Jah Love, Chigunduru, Chibaba, Chimudhara…