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Monday, March 1, 2010

Despite Conflict Between Fans and Police, Sizzla Delivers a Sizzling Performance

By Stanford Chiwanga

NOT even a frustrating and unwanted downpour yesterday night could stop Jamaican reggae artiste Sizzla Kalonji from delivering a class act that will go down history books as arguably the best 21st February Movement music gala that Zimbabwe has ever witnessed.

The Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (ZITF) show ground was the venue, but the rains had soaked the earth and turned the ground into a hostile wet and cold environment not fit to host an artiste of Sizzla’s calibre.

But what threatened to be a disappointing night turned into a night to remember as local acts such as Cephas Mashakada, Iyasa, Mahendere Brothers, the Cool Crooners, Alexio, Roki, Extra Large, Mai and Baba Charamba and Tanga Weka Sando put up sterling performances that put the close to a 1 000 revellers in a party mood.

But if the local acts created the party mood then the critically acclaimed dancehall star’s stepping up on stage got the people, who braved the wet weather conditions, hilarious as they stamped on each other’s toes to just catch a glimpse.

The enthusiasm of revellers saw them pushing past the police barrier to touching distance of Sizzla who was born Miguel Orlando Collins. Quite a number of people were bashed by security personnel for causing mayhem and putting the life of one of Jamaica’s greatest reggae experts on the line.

But Sizzla, a qualified mechanical engineer who was heavily guarded on and off stage could have none of it as he rebuked the police for using minimum force to control the excited crowd.

“I don’t want you to hit the fans, please leave them alone. Let the people enjoy themselves. And to you my fans please be at your best behaviour, you came here to dance and watch Sizzla do that. This is the 21st February Movement and it’s a tribute to President Robert Mugabe don’t mess it up. He is the one who invited me here,” said Sizzla amid cheers and applause from the crowd.

With order restored Sizzla got down to business, he was all consuming, energetic, electrifying and romantically poetic in his deliverance.

His performance was an implicit statement that declared that as much as the local artistes had done well they were still far from matching the work of a maestro who is famous for wearing a black doek.

Sizzla’s recital proved that he was by far a superior entertainer and the last night of February perfectly typified the difference in attitude of deliverance between one Jamaican and bunch of Zimbabweans.

He got the crowd in the groove with Zimbabwe, a song that praises the resilience of Zimbweans, and by the time he started singing the song Thank you mama, the audience was already eating out of his hand.

After that Sizzla, a musician with 45 solo albums and 15 collaboration albums under his belt started mixing it up by free-styling and everyone in the arena could not help but acknowledge that they were watching the master at work. What pleased the crowd the most was that Sizzla’s free-styling was loaded with praises to the Commander-in-Chief and Zimbabwe.

The man, who is credited along with Capleton, Anthony B and Buju Banton with leading a movement towards the re-embracement of Rastafarian values in contemporary reggae music by recording material concerned primarily with spirituality and social consciousness, stayed only for 30 minutes on stage before he was whisked away, but no body noticed because that half hour was exceptional and can be likened to a lifetime. After that more local acts got on the stage but sadly people were no longer interested, who can fault them, Sizzla had given them enough and as such they had no reason for sticking around anymore. In their minds the remaining local artistes could do much but not enough to match Sizzla.

It is no wonder that it only hit them as they were trudging home that they had danced the night away in the mud. Now someone had to do the washing of the soiled clothes. But such thoughts did not bother them much at least then, the expression on their faces told of a story of a people with no regrets whatsoever but of a people who had gotten what they had bargained for.


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