HARARE – One of Zimbabwe’s greatest music composers, Dickson Chingaira, aka Cde Chinx, passed away on Friday, plunging the arts and music industry into mourning.
Cde Chinx died at West End Hospital in Harare after battling leukaemia cancer. He was 61 and leaves behind his two wives, Patricia and Ntombizodwa, as well as 10 children.
His first wife, Patricia confirmed the news yesterday.
She said: “Yes, Cde Chinx is no more.”
A humorous and gifted singer during the liberation struggle and thereafter, Cde Chinx was instrumental in composing catchy wartime liberation songs that became popular among Zanla combatants and rural communities.
After independence in 1980, he had the honour to perform at the independence celebrations at Rufaro Stadium where he warmed up the stage for the late reggae star Bob Marley’s performance.
Even after independence, Cde Chinx continued singing his liberation war choruses and at one time was part of the all-conquering Ilanga Band.
During the land reform programme, he spearheaded the recording of music supporting the controversial land grabs, a feat that cemented his all-time relationship with Zanu PF.
Even after his house was demolished during the 2006 Murambatsvina, Cde Chinx’s love for Zanu PF did not diminish. He also worked for the ZBC, the public broadcaster.
Cde Chinx played Rapo, in the 1996 film Flame, about the Zimbabwe liberation war. Music is also central to the film and Cde Chinx plays the choir master. In this role he essentially plays himself — a famous choir master and fighter.
Guitarist, Edith WeUtonga, yesterday said Cde Chinx music’s played a major role in inspiring young and upcoming musicians in that era.
“It is unfortunate that considering the role he played using his music has not been a good enough reason to establish a standalone ministry of Arts.
It is my hope that he will be given a place to rest at the (National) Heroes Acre and become the first musician who is honoured in that manner. Whichever way though, he remains a music icon,” said WeUtonga.
Yesteryear hit-maker Jonah Moyo also conveyed his condolences.
He said: “I am really saddened by the passing of one of our own. He was a true comrade. May his soul rest in peace and, of course, he contributed a lot to our music industry and I rate him highly. We will miss him; he also was full of humour.”
Social commentator Lennox Mhlanga said: “Cde Chinx made a unique contribution to the music and arts industry in Zimbabwe. His on-stage collaborations with Ilanga and Andy Brown’s Storm are testimony to his versatility.”
Fine art specialist Chiko Chazunguza said: “Cde Chinx will for sure be missed by many. For me, he was the most consistent musician of the contemporary genre and above all, he is one of the few musicians in the world who fought in a liberation struggle using lyrics: an art form.”
Political analyst Maxwell Saungweme,said: “Cde Chinx is a genuine hero who unfortunately lost it when he supported a failing party contradicting liberation ethos. True heroes stick to liberation principles not royalty to a party or demagogues even when they go contrary to the principles of the struggle.”
Broadcaster Comfort Mbofana had this to say: “I worked with him at ZBC and he was a generous soul who contributed immensely to the music and arts industry.”
Arts practitioner Josh Nyapimbi said he has great respect for the late Cde Chinx as a musician and freedom fighter through his music. “Regrettably, he leaves us in an internal post independent struggle where the arts suffer repression for playing a similar role,” he said.
Yesterday, the MDC also extended its condolences to the Chingaira family on their sad loss.
Party spokesperson Obert Gutu said while the party might not have entirely agreed with some of Chinx’s inflammatory and hate-filled messages in some of his songs, particularly those songs that he composed during the violent land reform programme, nevertheless they believe that he was a talented and patriotic musician who contributed immensely to the growth of the local arts industry.
He said as a social democratic political party, the MDC advocates for love and empathy, amongst other virtues.
“May his departed soul rest in eternal peace,” Gutu said.
Social commentator Blessing Vava said: “He was a dedicated revolutionary whose music drove and motivated the struggle. He is one of the very few musicians to bring consciousness in the arts through his lyrics.”
Actor Slyvanos Mudzvova said Cde Chinx was a committed musician as evidenced by the number of years he spend producing music.
“He was politically so open that we listened and danced to his music knowing full well that he belonged to the Mugabe regime. Despite the lows he faced in terms of doing public paying shows because of his politically wrong messages, he remained committed to his ideology,” said Mudzvova.
Urban groover Desmond Chideme, aka Stunner, said: “I respected his music politically and it touched everyone, it was music with a purpose. I remember Vanhu vese vemuno muAfrica which almost became our national anthem.
“A limb has fallen from the family tree. We shall grieve not for Cde Chinx but remember the best times, the laughter, the songs. The good life he lived while he was strong.
“Let’s continue his heritage; I’m sure he is counting on us. His mind is now at ease and may his soul rest in peace remembering all, how he truly was blessed.”
Mourners are gathered at Number 17 Takeley Drive Sentosa, Mabelreign in Harare.
Burial arrangements will be advised in due course.