The Headphone: Who Is Vera?

Ooooooh, Smooth.

Vera’s music was made known to me quite recently, and armed with her SoundCloud and YouTube links, I made my way through her online catalogue to see what was what, and to share my thoughts. The first song that played from her profile is a new one, and it’s called Tongai. It’s got great harmonies dancing about, and a catchy little melody. I can’t say a whole lot about the writing on this, but it’s a smooth listen.

I’d have loved to have spoken to Vera about some of her work (if I do, I’ll update this post), but I’m pretty swamped with life right now. By the time you read this, I shall be knee deep in adult things, with this blog post scheduled to post. All I’m going off is my being a fan of all kinds of music, and whatever it is I’m listening to while writing this. So, as I said up top, Tongai is a good listen if smooth jazz-pop is your thing.

A Word to the Wise, However…

The writing in Vera’s music isn’t the most thought-provoking or complex stuff you’ve ever listened to, to be honest. While her musicianship is undeniable (she plays the guitar, and does so really well, while having a controlled, interesting voice), the words she sings don’t really complement it much. As mentioned above, I’m playing music from her SoundCloud and YouTube accounts, and so far I haven’t heard lyrics here that really lend to the atmospheric, almost didactic nature of her singing. They do however, carry a message along just fine – she tells a story about her drunk driving escapade after being stopped by a police officer, for instance. It’s all just done in a very straightforward, slightly by-the-numbers manner which I feel doesn’t do her really great voice (and guitar skill) much justice. Still, it didn’t get to me to the point of being something I’d consider annoying.

Music, and Musicians, are a Product.

Products, by nature, must appeal to a targeted demographic. That’s how this stuff works. Vera’s product is a combination of her musical ability, as well as her overall aesthetic. So, how is she performing on that front? Well, I can’t really say. Not being on the ground in Harare means I probably won’t see her live any time soon, but a quick glance at her Twitter page shows she generally tweets about her music and related interests, etc. She’s not as “package-focused” with her social media engagement as, say, Tehn Diamond (a Zimbabwean rapper) is, what with his whole “man of the people, part of the people” aesthetic, evidenced by his use of mostly ephemeral media to give an insight into his behind the scenes life.

Vera is much more about the music, and just the music – a SoundCloud awash with vocal experiments that are blatantly imperfect, cover versions, acoustic sets from shows and more, will tell you that yup, she’s a muso, and not really intent on convincing anyone otherwise. Likewise, her YouTube is like a musical diary of her performances, and not really a curated lineup of her best work only. Tongai’s video description even has a grammatical error in it, for good measure.

Could this be why she’s not as known as, say, Shingai Mangoma (another Zimbabwean songstress, who has received a National Arts Merit Award for her work)? Well, yes and no. While both women sing well, Shingai seems a little more diverse in her approach to music. She seems more radio-friendly, and when she does put music out, it’s packaged and marketed effectively (I don’t know if she still makes music, though). Vera, in contrast, is who you’d go to see in a charming little dive on a Sunday and come away saying “why isn’t she more popular?”

She is Clearly Trying to Change That, Though.

With Tongai, her latest (and first proper original release, I assume) being a mash-up of her comfort zone Jazz-esque sound and Rhumba, I get the sense Vera is focusing in on both radio, and general Afro-Pop recognition. It’s produced by Military Touch Music’s Dj Tamuka, and it floats nicely against the ear, with guitars leading the melody along. If this is the direction Vera is going, it may just be a promising one. I say this because Afro-Pop (even of the chill variety) is rarely ever replete with thought-provoking writing. It’s a simple, catchy song that will likely appeal to older audiences who want to sing along to the simple lyrics. I like it, definitely, but given my predisposed preference for complicated and layered songwriting, I may not be the best person to judge the writing here.

One thing is for certain however, Vera is talented, and if she keeps this Tongai vibe going, she may just be on her way to a NAMA of her own.

Listen to Tongai below, and follow Vera on Twitter to keep up with her releases!

Day to Day Zimbabwe – Chapter 1: Matemai.

His alarm chimes and he slowly pulls himself up. 5am. His wife takes a deep breath but doesn’t wake up from her slumber. She’s still tired from yesterday’s work. Matemai, as he is affectionately known, gets off the bed and steps over his two children lying in the reed mat on the floor. Searching on the small pile of clothes on the floor, he picks out his clothes for the day. The driver will be by the road in 15 minutes. He washes his face on the sink outside and puts his towel on the line to dry. Mai Megan will take it in once it is sufficiently dry. At 5:30 on the dot, the kombi he works with pulls up and he takes up his position at the door. Matemai is a mini-bus conductor. Elder, the driver, and Matemai mumble their greetings to each other. It’s too early for any energetic conversation. They start driving around in the wee hours of the morning seeking passengers to ferry into the CBD. “Town mota” (this mini-bus is going to town) , Matemai shouts at every person he sees standing by the road side. It’s early and many people are heading to the CBD for work and school so their kombi fills up quickly. The driver speeds along the highway towards the CBD. He has no regard for speed limits, the safety of the people he’s carrying or the safety of other traffic. Time is all that matters to him. The quicker he goes back and forth between the CBD and Kuwadzana, the more money they make. Matemai, standing awkwardly by the door, asks the passengers to pay. “Ngatibhadharei vabereki. 4-4 sekugara kwatakaita. Vane macoin ipai vamwe ini handimade ane noise” (Lets pay up. Put your money together with those you’re seated with. Those with coins, give them to the people next to you, I don’t want them. They’re noisy.) The passengers chuckle at his joke and proceed to pay the bus far. 50c from their homes into the CBD. Matemai counts the money he has received and it amounts to $9. All 18 passengers have paid. “Maita basa” (thank you), he says as he signals to Elder that it’s ok to turn up the volume on the radio. Traffic is thick as they approach the CBD but Elder has been driving kombis for a long time. He knows how to maneuver his way through the traffic. At some point, he drives on the island separating the roads and they’re at their drop off point in no time. As the passengers disembark, Matemai goes to the ‘rank marshal’ and they’re put on the log book to load and head back to Kuwadzana. They’ll load after 6 kombis. Not a bad start.

2 hours later, it’s their turn. Elder parks the kombi facing the road and keeps the engine running. They’re on an illegal loading zone and a fast exit might be required. It’s still early and there are not many people going to Kuwadzana. The loading process is slow. 11 passengers are in the kombi now and a semi formally dressed gentleman approaches the kombi. Matemai gets inside, closes the door and locks it. “Vabereki ndivharireiwo mawindow” (Please close the windows), he instructs the passengers inside. They oblige. The gentleman gets to the kombi and asks, “Iri kuenda Kuwadzana here?” (Is this kombi going to Kuwadzana?). Matemai ignores the gentleman and instead addresses his colleagues who are sitting on the road side. “Vanoenda here ava?” (Does this gentleman look like he’s going to Kuwadzana?). His colleagues shake their heads in unison and Matemai closes the window. The gentleman is a city council police officer dressed in civilian clothing. Had he been allowed to board the he kombi, he would have impounded the vehicle and most certainly demanded a bribe. Matemai’s instincts have saved him and Elder some hard earned money. The gentleman walks off and Matemai opens the door once more to let passengers in.

2pm, Matemai and Elder have their lunch. A plate of sadza for each one of them purchased at a dollar a plate. They wash it down with a shared liter of coke. They discuss their latest trip and laugh. One passenger hadn’t paid and it took them a while to figure out who. “Asina kubhadhara ngaandipoo mari yangu” (whoever hasn’t paid, please can I have my money), Matemai had repeated over and over to no avail. They had had to resort to refunding the passengers, tracing where each of the fares had come from. They caught their culprit, a young man who looked drunk. They had been stopped by police at a road block and they had to pay the police $15. Every kombi pays the police this $15 everyday without fail. What this money is for, no one knows. No one cares anymore. It’s is the norm on the road. If they don’t pay this money, the police will arrest them and delay them for as long as they can. They could even impound the car. Valuable time would be lost and time is money, literally. It’s easier to pay the $15 and work freely throughout the day.

9pm and several trips later, Matemai is exhausted. This will be their last trip of the day. After they drop off all the passengers at their various bust stops, they drive to the house of their boss, the owner of the kombi. They give him $70 daily for 5 days, Monday to Friday. Saturday is the day on which they work for their salary. Whatever they make on Saturday, they spilt 70-30. Most conductors get 15-20% of the Saturday earnings. Elder is generous. If during the week they surpass the $70 target, Matemai gets $5-$10 depending on the amount of surplus.

10:30pm and Matemai enters the room he calls home. His children are fast asleep. He hasn’t seen them in 4 days now. He leaves while they’re asleep and comes back home when they’re asleep. Mai Megan is seating on the bed counting her earnings from the vendor stall she runs. Matemai takes out the $5 he got on the day and hands it to her. She looks up at him and smiles. They share no conversation. They’re both too tired to talk. Matemai doesn’t eat at home. The food at home is for his wife and children. They have to save as much as they can so they can survive. Mai Megan packs away her things and prepares to get into bed. Matemai gets into bed and immediately falls asleep. His arms hurt from constantly opening and shutting the kombi door. His back hurts from standing in a hunched position when the kombi is traveling. His legs, even worse. Mai Megan blows the candle and gets into bed with her husband. She puts her arm around him and tries to wake him up. Maybe today he’ll be able to wake up and give her a little attention. It’s been long since they’ve been intimate. He doesn’t wake up. He is too exhausted. She turns away from him, sighs deeply and falls into her own slumber.

Follow Josh on Twitter: @_6_Legend

Unfinished: Too

TOO.

They said I’m too soft. I live with my heart on the outside. I’m made of flowers dripping with honey. The scent of newborn babies lifts my spirit. Strangers in love tug on my heart strings. I want to hug everyone, I kid you not. I cry, a lot.

 I. Feel. Everything.

They told me I’m too needy. Because when they say they need warmth, I’ll set fire to myself. When they call for my strength I’ll be their warrior. When they ask for a cheerleader, my dreams die to cheer theirs on. They told me I’m too needy because I need to be needed. Too needy for wanting to be needed.

Listen. He told me I’m too emotional. Man, you don’t know the half. Man, I have lush and never ending forests of love to give you. Man, I have mystery, courage and fire engraved in my DNA to fight for you. Man, I have stars in my eyes, stories in my melanin, and flowers in my throat. Man. Emotion is how I tell you that I am complete but you make me better. Emotions are my smoke signals to show you the love that burns through my bones, for you. Emotion is my language. How can it ever be too much.

Too emotional. Too soft. Too needy.

I’m alive in a world that wants me to be rough, cold, unfeeling, cruel. Im alive in a world that is sick of my tears, because they betray my weakness. Im alive in a world that wants me to hate. A world that questions kindness, ridicules love and criticises emotion.

I will love hard in rebellion. I will rub my wounds with forgiveness and get up ready to love harder. This world will not make me what it wants me to be.

And you, man, you will drink up my emotion and it will soften you. You will give me back in equal measure what I give to you. Because I am never too much, never too little, I am enough.

The second Unfinished piece to be started on Lens Blur comes from the lovely Zelipa, who has written this resilient, beautiful piece and left it open for anyone who wants to add on to it. As usual with Unfinished pieces, when continuing on from Zelipa’s work (tough act to follow, huh?) please start with her last paragraph for ease of reference. Follow Zelipah on Twitter for more updates from the lady herself.

Monday Male Feature 

moregraca

 Hello beautiful ones! I hope that everyone is doing well and had a lovely weekend. I had a pretty busy weekend! I attended a conference at church and it was so refreshing. It reminded me of God’s love for me and how He keeps blessing me . I was quiet on the blog last week because of the conference but it’s a new week so let’s do this! What did you get up to over the weekend? 

It’s Monday again and we love Mondays! Why do we love Mondays? Well because it’s a new week and we’re always looking forward to winning throughout the week right? Ok now that we’ve done that let’s meet our Male Feature for this week .

Hi Male Feature …..tell us something about yourself

Hey my name is Nicholas Isreal I live in Arlington,Texas. I’m originally from a small town in Arkansas, but have been in the Dallas…

View original post 264 more words

Penny for my Thoughts.

It’s me sitting alone with 4 walls call it a room
Smoking on zags, tripping on shrooms
The reality of mine exists in the mental, the reality of the physical becoming a stain
On my soul, that’s illuminated by the fluorescent street lights
My own glow,  replaced by dark holes
Like a piece of paper at war with drip drop ink blots
Grumble, stomach, grumble! Reminding me of the reality I’m running away from
Sparkly dress princess awaiting for her date prom
Graduation into life, abysmal life state form
Parents praying the end of the night don’t mean date rape songs
Life existing in digital realms, thoughts governed by peers and the judgement they spew
Click click, post, upload onto public forums, hate comments spat out no chews
Everyone shelling themselves not bombs but onion proof
Peel after peel, layers amount to inhumane, selfish alone thoughts in a dark room

Emotional terrorism, the terroriser feeding and bloating from tears and hurt of victims stuck in their own mental prisons

Box, cold concrete, steel bars bending like an Olympic weight lifting
The wood from slaves ships preserved in museums for the oohs and the aahs!
No black slave back with lashes displayed, for who? For what?
And don’t tell me, slavery is dead and gone
Our black brothers getting scholarships to stay in foreign homes
Instead of that black talent be used right here, on birth homes

Black on black violence, the white man smiling. we ain’t won the race war, damn
Black people doing the white man’s agenda to hang

Get an education and start seeing your skin turn brighter against your own fam

Steven Makunde isn’t on social media right now, but hopefully he’ll share with the blog again soon!

LENS BLUR ASIDE: VICTOR’S QUESTION.

I often ask the simplest of questions, why do you stay if you know he/she ain’t treating you right? We get lost in wishing for what could be as if we can not see what already is, you let him/her toy with your heart and diminish your worth as if you have no blood running through your veins, as if pain is nothing to you. Love has no complications and definitely carries no hurt but somewhere along the way humanity got desperate and now we make excuses for being treated wrong.

When someone loves you, you know it and when they don’t, you know they don’t, but we are so scared to just walk away we end up stuck in a dormant relationship that’s both draining and ever without progress. Sometimes, alone is better than stuck in a worthless relationship.

Do you agree with Victor? Or do we need constant companionship?



Click here to go discuss Vic’s question with him on Twitter

LENS BLUR SERIES: RECURRENCE, CHAPTER TWO.

AND NOW! The second installment of Kuda Mkudu’s series, which I’ve called Recurrence. Take note of the colours he uses, by the way…

Chapter Two: Red.

Always a been a good boy, or well I tried to be. A set of rules was layed out to me and I followed. Sometimes we fall off the wagon, we all have those moments that we wish could just disappear. Moments of weakness, envy, even moments of lust. That last one ‘lust’ the most troublesome of all. In moments of lust we get so lost on what we crave, what we want, more than what we need. The things we want are usually destructive, and regret fills our hearts.
I believed I loved her with all my heart but that’s the thing about our beliefs more often than not they can lead us astray. She was the most deceitful woman I have met to date, every word was a lie. I guess the truth is difficult for others cause she did seem troubled by it. Besides that she was a passionate person caring even. The most confusing character ever really since those two descriptions should not even be mixed together.

The things we want are usually destructive, and regret fills our hearts.

This relationship didn’t start of with some extravagant gesture of love or a declaration of the hearts intent. There were no feelings no previous emotions attached to one another. I guess we simple decided that since we were both single and both consenting adults with some degree of attractiveness why not date. It was simple really and more people should try it out you never know you could meet the ‘one’.
She had a hold on me like no girl before, the gaze of her eyes can only be compared to those of the mythical Medusa, who with just a glance would turn anything to stone. That’s how I felt, after all the lies the cheating I was nothing but stone. One would ask why I didn’t leave her, well that was just it, I was stuck. Her hold on me greater than before and deepening with every kiss, every touch and every embrace. I sold my soul to her, that’s what it felt like.
It’s a curse really what some women can turn us into and sure it would be easy to blame them but the reality is that we allowed it. We allow people into our lives, we allow them to break out security walls but the worst is that we allow them to steal our innocence. Such a shame the things we subject ourselves to. Anyway back to the story.
I was in love and being in love means we are naive, careless all those other things that really just slow down the brains functions. She cared for me I knew that it was just in her nature to be self destructive. It was like she couldn’t be happy for too long, like it pained her to be happy with me.

I sold my soul to her, that’s what it felt like.

She cheated and kept cheating it never stopped. Each occasion with its own excuse and explanation. Each as painful as the last. As time passed it finally got to me, what was I doing in this relationship? Why would I endure such when I could just walk away and be happy? I couldn’t, maybe it was a part of my own self destructive nature holding me back. A need for chaos, for things to be so out of order it was almost like I enjoyed it. Any other person would have walked away and searched for better but not me.
The unexplainable happened, she awoke a dark inert part of me. I wanted revenge, I wanted to get back at her for all those times she caused me pain and grief. We were both pure (virgins) planning to offer ourselves to each other when the opportunity arose, it never did. We never got the chance.
Ask for sin and the devil will provide. Driving my friends around we suddenly ran into this fine specimen. Light skinned, soft smile and oh my was she a sight for sore eyes. We exchanged contacts and started chatting behind my girlfriends back. It was all exciting and new for me. Two women at the same time who would have thought it possible? Young Matthew you have done well for yourself!
One day my parents were out of town so I invited this new girl to my place. Food turned into sex chats and well before you know it we were kissing on my bed. My heart raced as my thoughts were all over the place. What if I’m bad at it? What if it’s small? What do I even do? Pondering over these questions as I carried on kissing her gently and softly.
She finally stopped me and asked “aren’t you going to take off your clothes?” I had forgotten the most simple of things I was dumbfounded. Nervously, I took my jeans off and proceeded to help her undress. Her soft skin rubbing against mine was bliss. It was over! Never felt like such a man before, I could brag about it now. Me and my friends can finally be on the same level, same train of thought.
Yes back to my girlfriend, I couldn’t live with my actions really. It hurt everytime she told me about her day or asked how I’m feeling. She would always smile kiss my cheek and tell me she loves me… it was all unbearable. I grabbed her and asked her if she loves me, her reply obviously yes. I proceeded to tell my deeds, how it went down, what I was thinking, how sorry I was and all that. I’ve never seen her look so blank. Tears streaming from her face she said no words for a good 30 minutes. She just looked at me, I felt like I was burning up just from her stare. She finally managed to get a hold on herself and managed to utter 3 words.
“It’s okay”
Sometimes, when we do something we regret there is no turning back. We wish we could turn back the clock but in reality we really cannot. Lust, such an evil thing. All we have are memories of how we lost it, how everything crumbled down. I knew one thing for certain, I was never the same.