The government claims the latest cholera epidemic is under control. It’s no consolation to the family, friends and colleagues of eminent musician, composer and choirmaster Rodwell Samkange who has succumbed to cholera in western Harare at the age of 70.
His death is a massive loss to Zimbabwean music and the arts world as a whole. Though his prolific music lives on – and probably played in his mind as his life spewed away – it is unforgivable that in this day and age such a great talent and inspiration to many, young and old, should be silenced by the failure of inept, indolent and corrupt officials to provide clean water and proper sanitation that prevent cholera.
Samkange played many different instruments with skill and passion and had an abiding love for everything musical, something he learnt from his musician father. His formal training got going at the Waddilove Institute near Wedza; he eventually graduated from the Zimbabwe School of Music and later achieved another top-notch music diploma in Japan.
At home, he founded several prize winning school and church choirs. The brilliant Chitungwiza Harmony Singers sang his popular composition Pjumvu at international events. (So moving were they at the recent funeral of Tudy Stevenson, the Chitungwiza singers brought tears to the eyes of mourners.)
If we had a music Hall of Fame, Rodwell Samkange would right there at the top of the rankings.
As for corruption and plundering of resources meant for the public good, we have now reached a new low. The latest monetary policy is a fiasco, daylight robbery again.
The slogan “ED Pfee” urged Mr Mnangagwa and his loyalists “to get in there” and sort things out. But now on the streets it is being seen to mean a middle finger up to ordinary folk and especially the most poor. This up-yours image – as did the original slogan – derives from the shona slang word pfekera, which means “entering.”
We have heard them lie before that foreign currency accounts would never be raided. We heard the central bank governor say he would resign if bond notes failed; they have become the new Zim dollar, nowhere near the 1:1 against the American dollar that he first promised. We are being screwed.
Not that it matters to Rodwell Samkange or the dozens of other cholera victims, but their surviving families will suffer even more now.