Cde Chinx, the last of a dying breed?

By Jonathan Mbiriyamveka

HARARE – Death as I know it, is never timely. And even if we know it exists, whenever we lose one of our own we feel shocked, sad and dejected.     

Zimbabwe’s liberation war hero and singer Cde Dickson Chingaira Makoni, who died at Westend Hospital on Friday aged 61 after a long battle with cancer, was a principled man.

So principled that he never gave up and had the stamina to stand on things he believed in.

More popularly known in music circles as Cde Chinx, his liberation war credentials are well documented.

We see him singing and performing in file videos during rallies as a member of the Zanla Choir, then he had a stint with Ilanga, yes that talented super group with the likes of Andy Brown, Don Gumbo, Busi Ncube, Adam Chisvo and Keith Faquarhason as its members.

Cde Chinx also formed Barrel of Peace and later collaborated with the Police Band alongside Marko Sibanda.

Over and above, Cde Chinx was free spirited and was able to work with anyone established or upstarts in music.

One of the groups that he assisted was Slice International which had his son Lenin, Tinos Viriri and Collin Sondayi as its members.

The history tells us that Cde Chinx’s role kept the liberation struggle well-oiled like a machine. He was indeed a motivator.

Through his music, he encouraged, cheered on and entertained both the masses and the cadres to move forward with the struggle.

Especially when chips were down in the camps and in the bush, Cde Chinx’s music echoed and reminded the freedom fighters of the purpose of the war.

I need not to over emphasise that role for I am a born free and because that has always been Cde Chinx‘s pillar of strength.

But my personal encounter with Cde Chinx was at the turn of the millennium when Zimbabwe had embarked on the land reclamation and reform programme.

Cde Chinx had just dropped his double CD album titled “Hondo Yeminda Volume 1 and 2”.

While other artistes would do jingles, the “Roger Confirm” singer went all out to produce a double album throwing his weight behind the land reform.

He made his views on the land reform public and was not afraid to talk about it.

Phew! What a remarkable achievement?

That album became an instant hit whether by design or default but many would agree that it was a masterpiece.

Accompanying videos were also released at the same time and that provided content for the struggling national broadcaster.

I was a senior reporter with a bias towards the arts for The Herald and naturally I became a veteran in that regard alongside my colleague Garikai ‘Uncle’ Mazara of The Sunday Mail.

At national galas Cde Chinx was an A-Lister and he performed at every gala that was hosted in the country.

Suffice to say Cde Chinx had his highs and lows in the cutthroat music industry but when it came to national galas he thrilled the crowds.

Besides being one of the highest paid artistes at the galas, Cde Chinx usually performed during prime time when the live broadcast starts.

He was one of the few artistes that performed for an hour and half but still fans would not have had enough of him.

The reason Mazara and I loved to cover the beat was because we would get up close and personal with musicians backstage.

That was the time we would speak with the artistes either before they go on stage or afterwards.

So during one of those interviews, I wanted to bring out the real Cde Chinx with regards to his views on the land reform and the opposition politics.

Many had ruled him out as an opportunists who was out to make a quick buck by rallying behind the land reform.

But sooner rather than later, I found out that Cde Chinx was a very principled artiste.

Before he could answer, he first took me through his formative years when he decided to join the liberation struggle.

Firstly, he told me that he supported the land reform.

He explained when pressed further why he supported the land reform when he didn’t have a decent home, Cde Chinx said it was not about him but Zimbabweans.

Secondly, he said even as poor as he was he would not sellout.

There are not many musicians who would stand by their decisions when times are hard.

Cde Chinx also showed his other side of tolerance when he said land belonged to everybody including the opposition.

He ended by urging political parties to work together for the common good of the people.

In a nutshell that was Cde Chinx for you.

On a lighter note he also urged people to co-exist as much as he did with his two wives one of whom he performed with on stage.

Perhaps Cde Chinx is from a rare breed, in fact, the last of a dying breed.

That breed which knows how and what needs to be done for a prosperous and working Zimbabwe!

Go well Nyati ‘Imhenyu’. Hokoyoyi Tapera!

June 2017
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