Music is part and parcel of every nation’s identity as it carries with itself beliefs cultural values and norms of a nation. Zimbabwe is one of African nations that are rich in gospel music, reflective of the Southern African country’s identity as a predominantly Christian nation.
Gospel music in Zimbabwe is sung in almost all the languages that are spoken in the country and it touches each and every person’s life, whether in urban, rural areas or on farms. In essence, solemn music in Zimbabwe has become a tool for spreading the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ making it reach the far ends of the country.
Each and every church in the country, whether Evangelical, Pentecostal or African Indigenous, can identify with gospel music in the industry as most of them have recorded their music and distribute it on DVDs and CDs for their followers to have a feast. Various choirs of the Roman Catholic Church have recorded uplifting gospel music for their parishioners and one such choir is a youth group at Our Lady Queen of Peace parish in Bulawayo’s Entumbane suburb.
The parish has an album entitled Asihlabelele (Let us sing) rich in praises to God. Just like music from other Catholic churches in Zimbabwe, Asihlabelele is punctuated by traditional instruments such as marimbas, drums and among others.
Gospel musicians in Zimbabwe do not just sing for the sake of it but to spread the message of salvation to all corners of the country as their music is pregnant with meaning. Mai Olivia Charamba for example, sings to encourage those who look down up themselves that before the eyes of the Living God they are great. This can be seen in one of her tracks “Africa” in which she says that Africa is not a cursed but a blessed continent.
Another gospel singer, celebrated by many Zimbabweans, Elias Shongwe, of Swaziland sings to teach, evangelize and even admonish Christians. One of his popular tracks,” Kuyasiza ukuzikhuza” (“Self-control is helpful”) hails the importance of self-control in a Christian life. He argues that, had it not been for self-control, many believers could have long back-slidden.
In a nutshell, gospel music in Zimbabwe is loaded with worship and praises to the Most High, messages of hope and restoration and tracks that remind Christians of what is contained in the Bible. The gospel singers have by and large become the country’ carriers of God’s message, if not unsanctioned pastors.