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Zimbabwe Dancehall, affectionately known by its legion of fans as Zim Dancehall is a Zimbabwean music genre with roots in the Jamaican tradition of reggae. The genre is known for its hard hitting lyrics which often encompass social commentary on issues like poverty, unemployment and drug abuse.


The genre now called Zim Dancehall can be traced to Reggae music popular in the Jamaican music circles. Bob Marley and fellow Jamaican artistes have become the foundation of Zim Dancehall with its style borrowing a lot from Jamaican reggae and ragga genres.

The Development of Zim Dancehall

The genesis of Zim Dancehall was not until the late 1990s with the emergence of pioneering artistes such as Major E, Booker T and Potato. Most of the pioneer artistes gained very little following. Exceptional cases include Major E and Malvin Sithole who made waves with various collaborations with Innocent Utsiwegota with hits such as "In My Dreams". [1]. At this point the genre was still in its infancy. Winky D, King Labash, Badman represented a new crop of artistes who took the genre to a new level with hits like "kukonzeresa" by King Labash and "chaputika" by Winky D. It was at this stage that most people began to notice these artistes and they also developed a considerably large following. With the rise of other artistes like Killer T, Soul Jah Love, Freeman, Shinsoman, Zim Dancehall became a force to reckon with in the Zimbabwean music circles with the majority of its artistes like the aforementioned becoming household names. [2]. Several songs like "mawaya waya" by Shinso, "tirikumhanya" by Killer T, "musarova bigman" by Winky D became instant sing alongs and established the Zim Dancehall genre among other local genres like sungura. The artistes even rose to international prominence with the likes of Lady Squanda, Freeman among others holding shows in countries like the United Kingdom and Australia.

Zim Dancehall to the Rescue

Considering the high levels of unemployment, this music genre is said to offer a chance of generating income to the urban youth who often fall victim to social ills like drug abuse, prostitution and violent crime. Not only does it offer an outlet for the artistes themselves but to the many backyard studio owners whose enterprises have sprouted in and around many ghettos in Zimbabwe and are estimated to be numbering about 600 in total. [1]. Notwithstanding the financial returns that are realised by the stakeholders in the industry, Zim Dancehall has also been credited for raising awareness on everyday issues that affect society like the maladministration of local government. The song by Spiderman castigates the city council for causing water borne diseases while another one by Jiggaz laments the economic hardships in the country by stating that money is never enough for the ordinary man. [3]

The Dark Side

Notwithstanding all the positive aspects of Zim Dancehall, there have been many instances in which the artistes hogged the limelight for all the wrong reasons. The wrong reasons span from lyrical content which glorifies drug abuse, violence and sexually suggestive dances. Inevitably this has an impact on the impressionable minds of the urban youth who form the bulk of the Zim Dancehall audience. This follows other arguments which note that Dancehall is a culture that impacts on dressing and body language which stimulates the audience to do as the artistes do in their videos. This includes videos like "ndinongosimudza musoro" released by Soul Jah Love which has both sexually explicit lyrics and video content. The inaugural Zim Dancehall Awards were also marred by violent and rowdy behavior from both the artists and the fans alike.[4]


  1. 1.0 1.1 Templeman, Zimdancehall Overdrive: The journey The Sunday Mail, Published: June 22, 2014, Retrieved: June 26, 2014
  2. ,Problem Masau, ‘Dancehall is the future of Zim music’ The Herald, Published: October 31, 2013, Retrieved June 26, 2014
  3. Ruzvidzo Mandizha, Dancehall obscenity divides opinion, The Zimbabwean, Published: January 1, 2014, Retrieved: June 26, 2014
  4. , Violence erupts as Winky D bags four DanceHall awards iHarare, Published: March 17, 2014, Retrieved: June 26, 2014