By Savious Kwinika
JOHANNESBURG, (CAJ News) – ABOUT 30 years ago, uproar trailed the release of a gospel song declaring Jesus as the “rock of ages.”
The man behind the song, Evangelist Chakanetsa Bandimba, came under a barrage of criticism and insults in the country (Zimbabwe), a nation dominated by Christianity.
While the message in the song, “Jesu iDombo” was undisputed, the rumba beats accompanying the lyrics, were the centre of controversy with critics denouncing the divisive song as “unChristian” and his music “heathen.”
It was widely viewed a taboo in the early 1990s to sing gospel music in rumba, a music genre popularized (or made unpopular) by raunchy dancers. It was unheard of.
Decades later, Bandimba is vindicated and hailed as the pioneer of gospel rumba music in Zimbabwe with this genre of music central and highly popular in worship at almost every Pentecostal church in Africa.
“I believe that if you are put in the forefront of pioneering of things, one way or the other you will meet people who will criticize you,” he said coolly while reflecting on his exoneration.
“Most of people do not want to move away from their comfort zone. When criticism came because of rumba music I knew that most of the people who were shouting at me lacked exposure to different types of worship that was going on in Africa then,” Bandimba exclusively told CAJ News Africa.
He cited the other reason that exacerbated issues was the fact rumba was not a homegrown music genre but had its origins in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Zambia.
“In DRC and partly Zambia, churches were using rumba to worship so I kept my cool because I knew that one day God would vindicate me,” said Bandimba.
“I feel so happy these days to see many people (Christians) now worshiping and playing rhumba music in their churches. I thank God for using me to pioneer such music in the Zimbabwean church.”
He referred to the scriptures, citing Isaiah 43:18-18.
“In Jesus’s days they (religious people) criticized him but they did not know that the stone which the builders rejected became the chief cornerstone. God has still more surprises for us so do not be quick to
judge. It’s God’s nature to do a new thing.”
He had a message to people who criticized him during the frantic days of his song’s release.
“God will continue to raise people for different purposes and when that happens do not be quick to judge. Some people will be lifted as a standard (Isaiah 59:19) against what the devil will be doing in those days,” he said.
Bandimba, who is a resident at Hopley in Waterfalls in the capital Harare, said he would continue to play a mixture of rhumba, sungura, jit and jazz to preach the gospel of Jehovah God.
His last album “Taura Nhoroondo” (translates to “narrate history”) was released in December 2015. It is his eight album.
“I am currently working on a new album and am planning to go in the studio soon for recordings,” he disclosed.
He said most of the songs were about Jesus and the salvation of people. Bandimba said most of the songs were based on sermons by different preachers of the gospel.
“Jesu Dombo came from a message by Apostle and Prophet Andrew Wutawunashe (founder of Family of God church),” said the musician.
“I write some songs while I compose others while inspired by the Holy Spirit as I walk or pray.
He has recorded most of his albums in Zambia with the collaboration of rumba players, hence the influence of that genre in his music.
While “Jesu Idombo” was a massive hit in the Zimbabwean airwaves, Bandimba said it was difficult to ascertain copies sold.
“I believe that if I managed to produce a song like Jesu Dombo, one day God will give me another song that will hit the world by storm,” Bandimba said.
He is meanwhile diplomatic on the mushrooming of Pentecostal churches in recent times.
“We must have as many good churches as possible but the atmosphere has been polluted by the devil. Therefore, one must pray to God for guidance so they join the right church which preaches true salvation in Jesus Christ.”
– CAJ News