Knives out for Kora Awards nominee

No one knows the source of the rumours (that cannot be repeated here for legal reasons), but they have been serious enough for police and Jojo’s own pastor to come out and defend him.

It has not helped Jojo’s cause that he has not been in Zambia since early July to speak for himself.

In fact, some have used his absence as proof of the allegations. But Pentecostal Holiness Church Bishop Chrispin Zulu, says there is no reason for anybody to suggest Jojo has been involved in any wrongdoing just because he has been away for a few months.

He says Jojo is in France recording a new album and will return to Zambia when he’s done with the project.

Mwangaza is a member of the House of Prayer and Worship Centre, a branch of the Pentecostal Holiness Church. “I am in contact with Jojo through phone and e-mail. He is recording an album and that takes time because there is a lot involved. But once he is finished he will return to Zambia and answer all these false accusations,” he assured.

Congolese-born Jojo has been at the pinnacle of Zambian gospel music for the last five years.

His first album, ‘Tehila (Singing to the Lord a new song)’ was an instant hit, with ‘Moyo Wanga’, one of the tracks on the album getting massive airplay on virtually all the radio stations. It was the song that snared him the Kora nomination.

He plays to sell-out crowds that rival shows put up by secular artistes and has been honored with two nominations for the Kora awards, Africa’s top musical awards.

Jojos follow-up album ‘Shabach (Yesu Ni Wa Moyo)’ came in 2003, and its success served only to increase his popularity. His third album ‘Rejoice Jehovah is in Control’ earned him another Kora nomination with the title track song.

With success has come controversy, caused it has to be said, by what would appear to be petty jealousies on the part of some of his competitors.

One member of a rival group came out with threats to have him deported. Later, however, the group issued a statement apologising for the remarks.

That has not stopped unpleasant rumours about Jojo doing the rounds.

His last album, ‘4X4 Teti Munkwanishe’ (You can’t handle me) was like throwing fuel onto a fire.

Many people including other gospel artistes felt the title of the album betrayed a level of arrogance on his part.

Jojo denied the suggestions and explained the title. “The first 4 comes from the four faces of children found in the book of revelations 4:7. We have the lion that symbolizes courage, an ox which stands for a strong or hard worker. The eagle refers to a person with a vision and man talks about compassion. And it being my fourth album makes it 4×4. With Jesus in me, no one can defeat.”

Asked how he feels about his popularity not only in the Zambian gospel arena but all over Africa Jojo said the person that he is today is God’s answer to his mother’s prayer. “I am my mum’s prayer answered. She prayed for a child who would grow up to serve and sing in his glory. My parents brought me up in the fear of the lord, preserving me from the world by telling me about my call and the importance of being attached to Jesus. My mother once told me that I had the melody of light in my heart, that melody brings hope and courage in people’s lives. Music is what I do best,” he said in a recent interview.

Jojo’s musical roots were going down from when he was 12 years old.

Apart from Zambia, Jojo has performed South Africa, Zimbabwe, Swaziland, Democratic Republic of Congo and Botswana.

September 2006
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