Morris Mtisi Post Correspondent
FROM nowhere to everywhere, zero to hero and rags to riches, was the story of little known Obert Chari in 2018. Stubbornly defiant, the Mebo hit-maker dared the kings and superstars and claimed a covetous Coca Cola Radio Zimbabwe Top 50 Best Upcoming Artiste award.
The humble countrified boy disobeyed the odds and treaded where the brave ones dread to tread. Congratulations! Makorokoto! Amhlope! You did what you had to do, and the heavens smiled! You did your best; God did the rest!
Mebo is a beautiful shocker! This is a song to play until David’s mother cries foul . . . until Erick Clapton, Phil Collins and Lionel Richie bring back Don Williams, Marvin Gaye and Joe Cocker from their graves to bestow on Obert Chari a genuine NAMA award out there in the sticks of Gokwe, declaring him the best sensible composer in Zimbabwe. He is better than Phil Collins-This side of the river! The repeated chorus of assurance, “I love you as you are,” “(Ndinongokuda wakadaro ufunge),” echoes the main message of the song: True love is not determined by someone’s looks, not by what one has or does not have, but by what the heart speaks.
Exactly the way Mebo’s heart speaks, “I love you as you are . . . no more-no less.” This great song seeks an answer to a huge question, ‘‘What is the colour of Love?’’ The answer seems to be, ‘‘True Love is colourless.’’
When Oliver Mtukudzi is singing “Jeri”, “Rufu Ndimadzongonyodze”, “Perekedza Mwana”, “Tiri Mubindu”, “Dzvene reseri”, “Vhunze Moto” or ‘‘Tapera’’, he is not just making noise. When he sings “Wanza sori” he is not waffling musically. He is on point about moulding human dignity and honour-Ubuntu/Hunhu.
When Leornard Dembo is singing ‘‘Musha Rudzii’’, ‘‘Mutadzi Ngaaregererwe’’ or ‘‘Ruva Rashe’’ that is not musical gobbledygook. We can say the same about a lot of these music legends worth canonising. The majority of us Zimbabweans who are gifted with fluency in listening feel very strong connections between the messages of the songs and experiences in our own lives. These songs search for identity, loneliness, heartbreaks, helplessness, dilemmas, love, hope and hopelessness.
And Obert Chari’s Mebo is no exception. When you take a good listen to the country boy, you cannot help recall Don Williams, Dobie Grey, Marvin Gaye, Phil Collins, Lionel Richie and the rest of them. The ability of this country song sung by such an intriguing country artiste this side of background and cultural divide to connect song lyrics to our lives indicates powerful interactive and reflective learning. By considering this song within global and selective listening frames, we do successfully engage with its meaning, content and context.
Music is universal language. It is loved by people of all ages and cultural backgrounds. It is an excellent way to motivate critical thinking. Songs, of course good songs like “Mebo”, create realistic contexts and like the novel, drama and other genres of Literature and art are an exploration of real life. Good songs, indeed like “Mebo”, not musical riff ruff, reflect and comment on key social, political and historical issues brought together into one disappointment that triggers many questions that beg answers.
All serious musicians compose suitable songs leading us to successful and enjoyable learning experiences. While today there is a flurry of inappropriate, sick offensive and dirty music mistaken to be democratic human vocal expression Obert Chari chooses a different path.
We cannot say some music has no objective. All music has an objective but it is not all objectives that are clean. Certainly some music can be quite poisonous and pointless. And every good nation needs very little of that inappropriateness and musical discomfort.
We cannot say that about Obert Chari’s “Mebo”. The Gokwe boy observes musical hygiene as he teaches through song.
Aware that some people have no ears to listen to sense . . . have no listening fluency, we must similarly be aware that there are others who can tell when they hear perfect musical sound (and often-times don’t have to like it . . . simply acknowledge it). The same people can also tell when they hear nonsense called music.
And “Mebo” by Obert Chari is not nonsense. His song fosters psycholinguistics involving complex sound capable of enhancing the encoding of linguistic information at the brain-stem.
“Mebo” stimulates critical thinking and helps improve skills such as verbal memory and auditory memory-and how music from a psycholinguistic viewpoint can be an excellent way to engage learners even in a classroom situation. The song is good news to teachers of English Language who have been dying to make their lessons lively, enjoyable and full of learning fun! Not many artistes, even poets, take a love story from this angle. This is a unique way, ‘‘unusual’’ could be a better word . . . a unique way of telling a love story.
It is good news to a listener who has been wondering and asking, “What is true love? And what is it made of?” Listen carefully and intelligently to “Mebo”, no matter what you think it is . . . no matter whom you think you are. You may not like the song because of the empty airs of useless graces and airs around . . . you may therefore not like the song or the singer.
The song will continue to speak sense and truth. The singer is not looking for approval from anyone . . . is not looking for fame or glory . . . in his other hit song “Batai Manzwi.” Grasp the sense in the lyrics’ he does not make it a secret that he does not care whom you think you are — he wants you to listen to the message. And whether you like it or not, he will go ahead and sing the way his heart and conscience command . . . and you better listen!
Thank you Coca Cola! You identified one musician worth recognising . . . a real contender and future superstar riding on merit and ability, not church-vote alignment, borrowed shimmer or gleam.
For once Zimbabweans voted for a song and artiste worth recognition, respect and support. Well done Zimbabweans!