Zimbabwe: Reflections of a banned musician – Leonard Zhakata

Listen to Leonard Zhakata – one of Zimbabwe’s biggest pop stars – talk about how he felt when his music was kept off the air.


See and listen on www.rnw.nl

Excerpt of the article:

“After his songs were banned from the airwaves, the singer tried to find other ways to bring his message across, like live shows. But this was made practically impossible, too. At the time he received many death threats.

To the singer, one of the most difficult things was the fact that, while he did his utmost to be heard, all his efforts fell flat. Often, he blamed himself for the situation, wondering whether he should have seen it coming.

“But no, I could not! I had a particular message that I wanted to send across. Something that wasn’t political!” Zhakata says, adding: “As an artist I have to be neutral. I have to encourage whatever is good for the nation.”
With his songs not given airtime and becoming a persona non grata, he lost all that was dear to him, financially and, more importantly, socially.

“Once you have been given a wrong label, obviously you lose friends. You get more enemies. The painful thing is that you don’t have a platform to explain yourself and you begin to lose a lot of your supporters,” he recalls. 

He says he started to notice that the unofficial banning also affected his way of composing. He began to adopt a sort of self-censorship, against his own will.

“That’s when I decided not to release anything for four years, because I could not reach the people,” he says.”