Agnes Machigere, a Zimbabwean songwriter based in Ethiopia, has written a song that eulogises President Robert Mugabe. The song was written to mark Mugabe’s 93th birthday today followed by the controversial 21st February Movement celebrations on Saturday, an annual event set aside to celebrate his birthday.
Also a composer, Machigere gave the song, ‘My Hero’, to local musician Jonah Chivasa, who produced it together with a local school. The track begins with a fusion of jazz and mellow vocals but later changes its tempo to electro house.
“I wrote the song and gave it to a freelance musician who is based in Bindura. He is backed by Chipindura High School,” Machigere told The Herald.
She said music was the only means of educating the younger generation about Mugabe’s life and the work he had done.
“This time, I wanted to have children to take a leading role so that they can have something to learn from the president’s life,” Machigere said.
Machigere said Mugabe remained a source of inspiration to Zimbabweans and therefore his birthday should be celebrated.
“He has been a father figure, a teacher and a man of high moral values. We salute him as a living hero, the great one,” Machigere said.
Machigere was also part of a group that produced a song promoting Agenda 2063, a plan that calls for action from segments of African society to work together to build a prosperous and united Africa based on shared values and a common destiny.
Machigere is not the first Zimbabwean musician to pen songs for Mugabe. Last year, a Nigerian artist Victor Edoja released a song titled ‘African Unity – RG Mugabe’. The song is in honor of Mugabe's tenure as African Union chairman from January 2015 to January 2016.
In 2011, Zimbabwean group Born Free Crew released a song called ‘Toita Sei?’ which translates as ‘What Shall We Do?’ In the song a sound bite of a speech by the aged leader, who has been at the helm since the country’s independence from Britain in 1980, talks about how Africans were oppressed by the English.
Meanwhile, some Zimbabwean musicians have been highly criticised for releasing songs that are deemed anti-Mugabe. Last year, music star Oliver Mtukudzi was denied an honorary degree by the University of Zimbabwe because his hit song ‘Wasakara’ was believed to be demeaning Mugabe’s leadership style.
Another musician, Leonard Zhakata, had his music denied local airplay and was blacklisted when his 1994 hit song ‘Mugove’ condemned the leadership for neglecting workers. Self-exiled chimurenga musician Thomas Mapfumo also adds to the list of musicians who have released songs criticising Mugabe’s hold on power.
Mugabe is the oldest head of state in the world. His leadership has been blamed for the economic challenges faced by Zimbabweans.