The 14th of August 2005 was the day a musical maestro passed on in Harare. The king of Dendera music Simon “Chopper” Chimbetu left a mark on the local musical arena and despite his absence he has still stayed relevant with his lyrics never lacking in depth in connection to the socioeconomic livelihoods of society.Ochestra Dendera Kings founder Simon Chimbetu was a man deeply influenced by society in his art as seen by his extensive discography.
Interestingly, Simon had teamed up with his siblings Naison, Brian and Allan as Marxist Brothers. Marxism had partly had an influence on the liberation struggle which Chopper had taken part in.As the 1990’s dawned Chimbetu was on a solo quest in music and released tracks such as “Samatenga” which focused on a very critical issue of death which does not spare anyone.
The artist is also known for “Kuipa Chete” which castigated economic exploitation of the black workforce.In 1999 Chimbetu released the album “African Panorama – Chapter 1” which has a particularly relevant track today tilted “Ndaremerwa”. The song speaks to a leader who has the power to ensure better economic conditions for a worker.
It is crucial in a period whereby the working class in this nation is burdened by the soaring costs of transport fares to and from the central business district which functions as the center point for the majority making way to their employment stations.
The fares are often changing with commuter operators citing the fuel rises and long queues as being the reason they have to increase fares without notice.Chopper in “Ndaremerwa” also alludes to his work place being so farther away from his place of residence leading to the 5 day working week draining his pockets by Saturday. Such relevance of his song released 20 years ago shows not only the power Chopper had in speaking on important societal issues but also the role of an artist in using art to communicate for his people to those in power.
Music in this case is functioning as an upward thrust of information from the citizens to those who yield government office.Simon Chimbetu who was also known as “Mr Viscose” and “Mr Cellular” amongst many other monikers is also credited as being a Pan Africanist who saw black struggles as a road to advanced ideals. Freedom, unity and emancipation were at the center of the iconic artist.