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Saturday, February 27, 2010

After 10 Years; 'King' Sizzla Finally Made it to Zimbabwe at the Personal Requests of the President

By Mtandazo Dube

THE man Zimbabwean promoters have been chasing for the past 10 years is finally here!

Ishe (King) Sizzla Kalonji is in town — it took a personal phone call from the President of the Republic of Zimbabwe, Cde Robert Mugabe, for him to make the trip — of course not without support from the sponsors, Shumba Instrumentation, the Ministry of Information and Publicity, and the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority, to mention just a few.

The Jamaican dancehall king arrived in the country on Thursday morning for the 21st February Movement celebrations held last night in the country’s second largest city, Bulawayo, at the ZITF grounds.

The 34-year-old self-confessed mbanje (marijuana) smoker, anti-gay lyricist and champion of the repatriation movement of black people living in Western hemispheres promised “love, happiness, togetherness and righteousness” to music lovers at the ZITF show and the HICC gig today.

Zimbabwean reggae outfit Transit Crew were standing in for Kalonji’s band and will be in action again tonight alongside Mic Inity and many other reggae/ragga singers in the country, in what is dubbed the Youth International Raggae Festival.

The Sunday Mail Leisure caught up with him at a local hotel and this is what he had to say . . .

Q: How did you get to be invited to perform in Zimbabwe?
A: It was all because of the efforts of Nhamo (Chitimbe) who tried to bring me here about 10 years ago. We are good friends but I have been busy and this time I had time plus I was called by the President of Zimbabwe, so I couldn’t turn that down.
I immediately started writing a song for Zimbabwe and I’m going to be performing it for the first time at the birthday celebrations. Actually I gave up some shows in Europe to come here for these shows — so that I can dispel the lies being told about Zimbabwe.

Q: Which other African countries have you performed in?
A: I have been to Ethiopia, Senegal, Gambia and now I’m in Zimbabwe.

Q: Why is it that you guys talk about repatriation but most of you have not set foot in a handful of African countries?
A: It’s the system. A lot of lies are told about Africa and in the end we all just get scared. Plus there are not many reggae music promoters on the continent. We need the money, that’s how we artistes survive; in fact, I think you journalists are not doing your job right.
You need to propagate Africa and conscientise the people, tell them about the Africa you live in, this Africa that I’m experiencing right here.

Q: You have only been here for a few hours. What do you think of the country?
A: Beautiful! Really, it’s an honour for me to be here at the request of the President plus I have seen so much love around. You people are very hospitable — everything is different and I love it.
But let me also point out that I support President Mugabe’s efforts as a black empowerment icon. However, I feel that he should take it further by being a champion of black repatriation for black people living in the Western world.

Q: I understand you were made to sign some documents that forbid you from singing anti-gay songs when you are in Europe. What is your position on gay relationships?
A: The preachings and teachings of the Most High say that it is not right for a man to be with another man or a woman with another woman. All of us wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for the union of a man and woman. Family is a basic unit in society.
I support the royal family set-up of a king and a queen.
I did not sign any papers, it is just an agreement I have with certain promoters — it is their system. I cannot stop singing those songs because there is a message in those songs which people should hear.

Q: And the marijuana thing?
A: Yes, I smoke marijuana. I believe it’s a holy sacrament, used long before us for righteous purposes. In fact, I was recently charged for possession of marijuana in Jamaica.

Q: Which Rastafarian church do you belong to?
A: Every one of them. I’m an African and Rastafarianism is all about Africa.

Q: What is your inspiration?
A: Jah, Africa, Bob Marley, Rastafarianism and the domestic life of every human being.

Q: What is your comment on the Buju Banton saga?
A: To tell the truth, I don’t believe anything bad said about Rastaman. Rastaman provides the light to the dark world in the west and they don’t like it so they try to destroy. Buju is a talented and very famous artiste — I don’t like what is being done to him and I know his fans don’t like it either.

Q: Some of your fans say that you have gone soft in your music and that you are no longer releasing music like you used to. What’s your take?
A: I make a lot of music for different people. My audience is varied so I use different tempos for different music in order to satisfy my many fans. I have not gone soft at all I just try to reach out to as many people as possible.
And to say that I’m no longer churning out music as I used to when I have 60 commercial albums and many other underground products is an insult to me. It’s only that the market enjoys gangster and sex music, and when I don’t give them that they say I’m not releasing. Actually I have increased not reduced the amount of music I release.
I also use a strategy of making people wait for my music — to whet their appetites.

Q: Do you classify yourself as a reggae or dancehall artiste?
A: As players of instruments, it is our duty to reach out and give light to those in the dark in whatever way that we can. All my actions are a fulfilment of all the African music genres — I’m only trying to maintain the culture and the tradition. I am a musician.

Q: Should we expect any collaborations between you and local acts?
A: I’m expecting to be doing something before I leave the country some time next week. Are there any good singers locally?



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