There is something called talent.
Hard to describe, but easy to feel.
It is like novel love, a display of utopian perfection with minimal effort. Talent is in itself spiritual; many get called, but the choice is always limited to a select few.
Limited to the likes of Chiwoniso Maraire, Beater Mangete, Samson Choruwa, Soul Musaka and a countable others. All of them poets, liquid beings who fit in their roles just as the heavens intended.
Excessively endowed with what others would kill for, but ominous. These super beings have everything except time. They conquer the world, but somehow seem unable to negotiate with the maker for more time. Everyone is on borrowed time, but somehow it appears like they acquired theirs from a stern lender. Perhaps the dosages of their brilliance need to be consumed in moderation.
I speculate because the departure of these geniuses, by way of death or misfortune, is hard to rationalise. The latest to depart from this presently unflattering world is Soul Musaka, well-known in the music circles as Soul Jah Love. He also liked to call himself Sauro. He was more than a musician; describing him through such mundane words would have been an insult to his essence.
Unlike his musical contemporaries, he was not the voice of the voiceless, neither was he anyone’s champion. Listening to his music was like reading an anthology of loss, growth, strength and spirituality. His compositions were inward looking, he told his stories. Despite focusing on singing about his life, many times without writing, his voice was powerful enough to inspire us, ghetto yuts, to adopt his pain.
When he reflected on his mother`s life in Mwana Wa Sthembeni, collectively Sthembeni became our mother, despite the many other names our own mothers answered to. He was that big brother the parents rebuked, but always brought candy. By no means a role model for any child, but no one could live without a dose of his works in their lives.
His dominance of street lingo is evidence.
Words like Chibaba, Makuruwani and Television Ting were his generous addition to our vocabulary. From each release, he planted nuances. Like the songs, he could have kept them within him, but he was not selfish with his work, at least in the early days.
Although he spent most of his childhood in Waterfalls, Sauro cut his musical teeth in Mbare, the mother of all garrisons in the country. Mbare, is the model ghetto where the grind is informed by a need to change circumstances, beyond everyday survival.
Soul Jah Love was the antidote many youths needed to remain committed to their vision.
“Ndovadyira bhonzo nekuonda kudayi, takamira pamamonya ipapo,” read lyrics from his monster hit Pamamonya Ipapo. It was more than a song, more like an anthem of resilience in which he rallied young people to stand up for themselves regardless of the circumstances.
He was not afraid of putting his words in effect, especially when he stood in defense of his art. In June 2017, at a rally at Sakubva Stadium, one Innocent Hamandishe, who was at the time a member of the Zanu PF youth league attempted to embarrass Soul Jah Love by publicly casting aspersions his way, after a misunderstanding.
In a turn of phrase and a classic case of converting adversity into opportunity, he responded to a rebuke in which was belittled into a braggadocio record. From being told Hausi Chinhu (you are nothing), to responding with a daring song in which he reminded everyone of his stature.
Despite giving hope and bringing joy to many people, life in some aspects dealt the chanter perforated cards.
His personal life had difficult moments, he faced thorny circumstances with love interest Bounty Lisa and after a series of on and off break-ups they split in 2019.
Despite having struggled to conceive for many years with Soul Jah Love, Bounty Lisa got pregnant and delivered a child with her new husband.
These and many struggles haunted the artist and his relationship with substances became more profound to the detriment of his career.
Makuruwani had a curious relationship with death.
Some of his songs sounded like premonitions laced with regret. In one of his last songs, Kana Ndafa, he predicted his death. He pleaded for his memory to be interpreted with caution, he argued that some stories told about him were not true..
A rebel by nature, but he had a soft side.
Unpredictable, Soul Jah Love could not be managed by any living mortal. The best brains in the industry tried and failed, he was a character subordinate only to his instincts.
Promoters were now praying multiple prayers with each booking, hoping he pitches up to perform. He escaped the public limelight, reporter colleagues would tell tales of how Chibaba, failed to honour appointments for stories and interviews. On occasions, he appeared when he wanted, in true Soul Jah Love fashion.
He did what he wanted when he wanted. He loved to miss appointments, but chose to honour one with the maker. Do geniuses live long? At 31 he folded the pages in his writing book, but we were left with a lifetime of philosophies.
The conquering lion has rested.