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  • Writer's pictureNgoni Mangoma

Vakuru Album Review: Talented Youth Bring Social Issues Front and Centre

Vakuru is the title of a new compilation album that vibrates with the raw talent of Zimbabwe’s

youth. The brainchild of social change outfit, Magamba Network and Accountability Lab, the

album has searched across the country for talented youth and given them a platform to shine.

It is no secret that the youth are the largest demographic in this country. In a nation limping

along economically, there is very little that is for them that takes into account and nurtures their dreams.What is lacking is opportunities - a means to express themselves. In steps Magamba Network with the Voice2Rep program now in its 3rd year. Over the course of five months this year, 10 talented men and women were given the opportunity to hone their vocals, working with some of Zimbabwe’s most talented producers. The music compilation album Vakuru is the result.

Featuring 10 tracks from this year’s cohorts, and three bonus tracks from previous year’s

participants, the album is startling in its intensity. Each track focuses on some aspect of society that each artist was drawn to write and sing about as varied as: sexual harrassment,

gukurahundi, drug abuse and our city’s crumbling service delivery, including the shocking state of sewerage and ablution in areas such as Mbare.

Stand-out tracks include “Be Heard” by Chiedza Manyaya who hails from Hwange, whose

stirring vocals in a song about growing up as an orphan send chills down your spine. The

haunting “Ruchapisa” by Tinaye the Vocalist is also noteworthy, exploring sexual harrassment

in our communities. The production on “Misodzi” is top-notch as artist Wiyan makes a plea for

the basic human dignity we should all be afforded in having clean, working toilets, along with

“Manake” by Ruunique a reggae track which addresses our seemingly endless unemployment crisis from the point of view of our nation’s largest demographic. Comfort Ndlovu’s “Qiniso” track explores the historic tragedy of gukarahundi imploring us to remember: But truth must precede healing. But truth must precede reconciliation.

Others on the album impress with raw and earnest lyricism but are let down by pitchy vocals,

although in some ways this adds a layer of charm as you can see the ways in which the artist -

with additional training and practice - will grow. What is particularly stunning about this

compilation is that the project brief was to allow young people to sing and perform songs that

illustrated our social ills. In many instances, this requirement can be ham-fisted and result in

stodgy and lifeless music that ticks boxes but fails to move the heart. But in the grand tradition

of the late great Oliver Mtukudzi - who moved the nation with songs such as “Todii” and “Neria” -Vakuru’s songs reach into your heart and deliver a message whilst also making you dance and sing along to heartfelt melodies.

Produced by a network of producers called The Zuu Collective founded by Kirkpatrick

Chidamba, the album channels current music trends such as Zim Dancehall and South African

house. Speaking about the rhythms they decided to include, Chidamba says, “We like local 80s, 90s and gospel sounds - we dabble in all of that. We are mostly influenced by local and

international hip-hop. Our producer base is diverse and we lean heavily towards the current

local and international scene.” The music swings from Zim dancehall to the township jazz of

yesteryear, to soulful R&B ballads. The three bonus tracks featuring artists who have

participated in Voice2Rep in previous years were produced by veteran producer Simba Tagz.

These more experienced performers really deliver, especially on the track “Mhere” by Ndinonzi Beatx, showing that the artists are continuing to grow with the program.

Vakuru will be launched on Saturday 5 November and will be available via sending a message

to +27600806146 on Whatsapp, in addition to all major streaming platforms.

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