Friday, 6 February 2015

Tocky Vibes and Sulumani Chimbetu.... Dancehall and Sungura music in church: who is praising who?

HARARE - After the public performance of Tocky Vibes and Sulumani Chimbetu at a local church, the debate of secular musicians within the confines of the church has been revived once more. Many Christians must be wondering what beats have hit them.

Contributing to the debate we initiated: see articles: (Tocky Vibes in church: are secular musicians taking over and Prophet W. Magaya and the promotion of the 'Muslim crusade'), we have offered a platform for debate for the trending phenomenon.

Here we pose the question again: what genre of music is acceptable in the church? In short, can a church hold a successful praise and worship segment dominated by local genres or beats? Is Sungura music or any other local beat suitable for church?
Tocky Vibes and Sulumani Chimbetu.... Dancehall and Sungura music in church: who is praising who?
What about rhumba - can a church's praise and worship service be dominated by rhumba music and be deemed to have been successful? This is a debate that has refused to go and still raises much interest among Christians.

There is really nothing wrong with local churches playing beats such as Sungura, chimurenga, rhumba or any other associated with African music, as long as the intention is to praise the Almighty. In fact, people should be drawn much more closely to God through such music because they are quite familiar with it. But the disrespect of local genres and the mistaken belief that Western music alone can make people enjoy worshipping.

Another section do not want to have anything to do with the local beats and from the beginning to the end, songs performed are only those with the foreign beat. In the United States, for instance, there is not much difference in beats between gospel music songs and secular music. As a result, what is played in church is entirely what is played by secular musicians in terms of the beat and their music culture. If that is the case in other countries, why should it be deemed abominable for a Zimbabwean church choir to play hard core Sungura music during a church service?

The Roman Catholic has been accommodative in this regard. They are known to play traditional instruments from the country with much ease. However, what is disturbing is the infiltration of secular musicians who also double as center of attraction in bars and similar night sports. Before their Sunday survives, they are deeply engaged in entertaining imbibing patrons in bars. One cannot expect to venture into the Democratic Republic of Congo and witness praise and worship church team not playing rhumba or soukous right in the middle of a church service.

And Christians there do not mind because they know it is their music and they are proud to be associated with it. But locally, some 'holier than thou' express reservations if Sungura music or any other local beat is played in church. Worse off, they have banned any instruments in their churches. Zimbabweans are generally happy people and they usually express their happiness through music and dance.

Even in church, people should not be deprived of such an opportunity to truly express themselves in praise and worship. They can do that through music they are familiar with, music they know how to dance to and music they can identify with. There are a number of Zimbabwean musicians whose works have suffered simply because they are not classified as gospel musicians owing to the heavy sungura beat they employ.

But lines should be drawn when secular musicians invade the pulpit only to seek fame with no apparent benefits to the congregation. Recent performances by Tock Vibes and Sulumani Chimbetu at a local church raise questions. Who is praising who, when such musicians perform in front of worshipers. While we welcome their presence as worshipers, their performances means something else.

Madzibaba Nicholas Zachariah, the 'Senior Lecturer', has composed songs that praise God and salvation. Yet his music has suffered rejection among the Christian community and even on radio and TV gospel music segments, no Zachariah music is played. His 'sin' is fusing his lyrics with a beat that is synonymous with earthly pleasures. But if the church can accommodate foreign dancing moves, then why has his music and that of his companions suffered an overall rejection. Have we become a hyproctrical Christian community such that we embrace certain components of music and avoid the rest? - Salvation Press News (SPN).
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