n Imbizo : International Journal of African Literary and Comparative Studies - Mathias Mhere's functional uses of gospel music in the Zimbabwean post - 2000 Maladies




The article critiques Mathias Mhere's gospel music from an Afrocentric perspective within the context of complexities and maladies that have impacted negatively on the majority's livelihoods in Zimbabwe's post-2000 period. The maladies have seen society marshalling different strategies and oral art forms to keep people's spirits buoyant. Oral art forms have always been at the centre of African experience, constituting a repository of the philosophy of life as desired, imagined, and treasured among most indigenous families and communities. In the absence of the oral folklore and oral art forms of yesteryear that were used to inculcate communal values and skills to self-define and safeguard cultural spaces, gospel music has made inroads and carved an indelible niche that needs critical attention. This strategy is not novel to Zimbabwe. Music as an oral and performance art has always been deeply ingrained in most social activities to raise and censure conduct across all ages for society's greater good, including cementing the social fabric, and fostering social cohesion and stability among most indigenous families and communities. In the recalcitrant environment, fraught with a myriad of maladies and many a family in dispersion, gospel music in the indigenous languages becomes critical in exhorting and censuring attitudes, conduct and desires in order to uphold treasured values. Family dispersions disrupted institutions and fractured relationships, further fanning insecurities and imbalances. It is from this angle that this article makes a critical analysis of Mathias Mhere's gospel lyrics. Mhere is one of the most popular young gospel artists whose albums have been hits on the Zimbabwean music charts. The article therefore examines the forte behind Mhere's gospel music in the Zimbabwean post-2000 maladies. It also interrogates Mhere's artistic creativity, sensitivity and commitment to sustainable livelihoods and survivalin post-2000 Zimbabwe's fractious environment.


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