By Byron Mutingwende
Gilbert Noel Kanokanga is a musician par-excellence who uses his songs to teach the citizens about the political history of the country from the days of the liberation struggle to present-day political developments.
Born on 21 June 1975 in Mutoko, Kanokanga did his primary education at Seke 6 and Concession Primary schools respectively before proceeding to St. Ignatius School in Hwange for his secondary education.
The musician who believes in revolutionary ideals said he started playing the banjo made out of empty cooking oil gallons and fishing lines at a tender age.
“I started playing the guitar when I was in Grade 7 way back in 1990. I was inspired by the likes of musicians like Tinei Chikupo, Shadreck Valley, Ephert mujuru and Lovemore Suwari of Zambia. Bothwell Nyamhondera and Biggie Tembo identified my talent and introduced me to Gramma Records.
“In 1999 I produced a 7-track singles collection called Tiriparwendo. That same year I managed to do a 6-track album called Usacheukazve. Tiriparwendo was a gospel songs collection and so was Usacheukazve which called on people to look ahead and not backwards like the Biblical Lot’s wife who turned into salt,” Kanokanga said.
To date, the talented musician has produced 10 albums and leads the Chimurenga Crew Band but blames the lack of frequent airplay as one of his major setbacks. He changed from Gospel music and started singing Chimurenga music, which he debuted with an album called Chenyika after the 2014 Zanu (PF) Congress. The album became an instant hit in the media, particularly on radio and television.
“This year (2018), I produced Zimbabwe Topembera album which celebrates the new dispensation. It has 7 tracks among them Baba Mnangagwa mu Office, Kuve Musoja and Tinokumbira Raramo that I normally play at Zanu (PF) rallies,” Kanokanga said.
The musician said he has shifted his focus to playing songs during campaigns by the Zanu (PF) winning candidates with a view of trying to influence Zimbabweans to recognise the contribution of Chimurenga music to the country’s war of liberation while entertaining people at the same time.
Brian Nyamarebvu, the lead guitarist of Chimurenga Crew Band said he was very happy about the group’s invitation to participate during the 2018 Cultural Week whose celebrations will take place at the Harare Gardens.
“We will join 100 other artists to portray Zimbabwe’s culture through music. The National Arts Council of Zimbabwe gave us the authority to participate at the event. Our contribution to Chimurenga music and the revolutionary consciousness drive is immense and we expect the ruling party Zanu (PF) to recognise our efforts,” Nyamarebvu said.