Things in and around Zimbabwe are up in the air, to use a clumsy colloquialism. Why do they keep claiming that we have the strongest currency in the region? What is going on with the warriors? Where will Mugabe be buried? Is ‘mausoleum’ the same as ‘museum’? Much is going wrong, and the little that is going right, our resolute spirits now approach with a dose of skepticism.
Shingirai Mavima, Michigan USA
Then, on September 18th 2019, the sonic and visual gods that guard the gates of YouTube blessed us with a glimmer of hope: a very oasis in the wilderness that is 2019 Zimbabwe.
Behold, ‘Ngaibake’ by Freeman featuring Alick Macheso.
This is must-see entertainment, ladies and gentlemen. Here are seven reasons, in no particular order, why. (Numbers in parentheses denote the part of the video relevant to the bulletin!)
1. The Song itself
Mixing a light-hearted party sentiment with the very real critique of the unnecessary lack of civility arising from our lived frustrations, the song hits all the right notes. Macheso’s crooning provides the appropriate amount of contrast to Freeman’s already-melodic chanting.
You know the song hits home when, three weeks after the audio of the song was uploaded, it had already garnered more views than other popular Freeman songs, including Patichaita Mari, Zvemufirimu, and Kusika combined
2. Madam Boss and Mai TT (2.09- 2:35)
If ever there was a living embodiment of the line(s):
“Chiiko ipapa, chamunoroverana ipapa
Hamuna kunetsana, tikazvitsvaga hapana!”
These two would be it. Possibly two of the most prominent, albeit polarizing female figures in the online Zimbabwean community, Mai TT and Madam Boss have had a cryptic on-off feud in recent times. Did not pay too close attention to it myself, but the little I gathered from either wide was that it was much ado about nothing- and the only real losers were their fan base.
It is dope, then, to see them bringing the funny in this video, and heartwarming to see them cap off a seemingly tense encounter with an embrace.
3. John Cole (3:02-3:05)
Okay, let’s start by acknowledging every single dancer in the video. All of them; an all-round incredible display of distinctly Zimbabwean dances, and excellent incorporation of ‘borrowed’ ones as well.
The inclusion of choreographer John Cole punctuates this excellence. Despite a vibrant dance community, Zimbabwean music videos have not always given much value to having actual dancers doing the dancing. There is a shift in this culture, and this song will stand out as one such instance.
4. The Girl with the Short Hair (1.56) Who is she? #PresenceAlone
5. Chisale (2:31- 3:00) Do you have people in your life, whether in personal relationships or from a distance, that when you see them having a good time, it puts you in a good mood as well?
Chisale is one such person for me. Growing in social media fame for his karaoke-esque performances of classic Zimbabwean songs- from Zhakata to Pengaudzoke- typically in full regalia.
He brought the same energy to this video; same unrelenting smile and unabashed dance moves. A person who makes it easy to root for him, it was a pleasant and deserved surprise to see him do his thing here.
6. Blaqs : As with other things previously mentioned, many in the Zimbabwean music industry have historically treated videography as “just another thing” to go with the song. Whether due to financial constraints or apathy, many videos have looked like they were shot by a homeboy who was instructed on how to use the rented camera minutes before the shoot.
It is away from this tradition that Blaqs has emerged as the poster child of musical cinematography, consistently putting Zim artists and their videos on par with other top artists from the region. Ngaibake is yet another feather in his well-adorned cap.
7. It’s Baba Shero, dang it!
We love Alick Macheso. We do. Love him. If you are a particular aficionado, you can probably trace his story back to the early 90s with the Khiama Boys and beyond. You remember when he was on album covers with an oversized Snoop Dogg shirt. You may have even, like me, felt personally insulted when Mapfumo sneak-dissed him at Tuku’s funeral. Heck, if you don’t listen to him at all, you at least acknowledge the “Borrowdale” as a definitive dance of 21st century Zimbabwe!
His chiChewa intro alone (0.10-0.14) is enough to get you hype. His redoubtable voice and customary socially on-point lyricism add a layer that takes the otherwise decent party song to an anthem.
And oh, how well does he look? If you didn’t know better, you would mistake him for another 20-something-year-old like the rest of the folks in the video! Furthermore, his humility to be right in the mix and be inconspicuous in the video for large sections of it, despite being arguably the biggest Zimbabwean artist in the post-Mapfumo/Tuku era…but that’s just Cheso though.
The video has been birthed to incredible hype. 48 hours after its release, and some are even dubbing it the collabo of the year (Winky D/Gemma, Ishan/T-Gonzi may have a thing or two to say about that). Already sitting at the number 1 on the top chart shows at Zifm and Power Fm radio. In all this, ultimate credit must go to Freeman for putting this incredible project together.
And I, well, I am happy to have been here to see this spectacle of sound and screen manifest. I’ll leave you with this one word then.