Leroy Dzenga Lifestyle Writer
It is a beauty and a devil of a story. Your epic Jekyll and Hyde tale in living colour.
They both blew onto the national stage in a gust, nay tornado in the iconic suburb of Mbare, using their natural talents in a manner which showed diversity in poetic expression.
With the ball on his feet, Denver Mukamba (26) told stories, painted pictures with his every touch equalling a paintbrush stroke on a ready canvas lying ready and willing to be molested with the touch of genius.
His name became a chorus, on a weekly basis echoing from the heights of the Vietnam stand, a citadel of the Dembare faithful at Rufaro Stadium.
On the other side of the same rokesheni was Soul Jah Love — Soul Musaka, a dancehall chanter whose catchy rhymes revolutionised the dancehall genre as it is known in Zimbabwe.
Bursting on to the scene with musical narratives that thawed even the most cynical of hearts, Soul Musaka (29) told his painful childhood story in song and the nation ate from his hand.
The beauty of their tales was haunting!
Denver Mukamba, at 21 wore the national football team`s armband under the Brazilian coach Klaus Dieter-Pagels, prompting the generous to suggest that he could be the first player to emulate and surpass the heights reached by Peter Ndlovu. At the time, the predictions were difficult to dispute with weekly performances that inspired a country, the world was nothing but a mere oyster to a young man named Denver, his simple task was to continue telling tales on the field of play. If only he knew how.
On the dancehall front, Soul Jah Love was glittering, turning every musical release into gold. In dancehall lingo they have what they refer to as “killing the riddim”, which is when a chanter aligns their voice to the instrumental in a satisfactory manner. But this wizard of song was a tad more than perfect. A little more than satisfactory. Bordering on transformation into the deity of the genre.
Sauro, Makuruwani or Chibaba as he is affectionately known out-sang his peers for a substantial time, even stealing the light from its usual custodians leaving them in a darkness so dark that one could even touch it.
Two incredibly talented ghetto boys, whose places in the future of the country was an indelible fact in sporting and entertainment conversations.
But the projected rise to glory lost steam along the way, with the duo tripping over self-invited and circumstantial obstacles.
Gifted but troubled
When Denver Mukamba was bought by South African Football Club Bidwest Wits, many agreed that his stay would be short at the club.
His move looked like a compromise for a person whose talent was far from translucent. Many of us thought Europe was the only place fit for the king Denver was.
Surely he did not stay, neither did he make an impact; his performance in South Africa was opposite to what competent pundits had imagined.
Mukamba failed to make a mark, even at minnows Jomo Cosmos with performances which threatened the integrity of every sports writer who had described him with superlatives.
Jomo Sono, a veteran sports administrator described Mukamba as a player whose technical ability was betrayed by his lack of composure in the face of the tempting Jozi life.
Attempts to rejuvenate his waning career have been an uphill sprint for those involved, he seems to have grown allergic to training sessions and the two biggest football clubs in Zimbabwe are a fair distance from being amused.
Dynamos and Caps United have been playing ping pong with football’s problem child; a sign that Denver`s days of playing at the top level could soon be history.
He is drinking a beer alright, and it’s at the “Last Chance Saloon”!
Around the same time as Denver`s prime, Soul Jah Love enjoyed an unfettered run dominating the airwaves with his songs. He was touted as the man who would finally wrestle the dancehall crown from Winky D who had run a bullish monopoly in the industry.
As his lyrics lacked substance, his consumption of unrelated substances rose.
Around 2015, his releases became more of a collection of incoherent words; a deviation from the solid compositions he first emerged with.
But Zimbabwean listeners resonated with his rebirth; they were ready to lower their standard in music consumption to accommodate their beloved artiste.
Promoters on the other hand, told sorry tales of how the chanter failed to honour contractual obligations.
Sometimes when he appeared to perform, he would be physically under pressure exerted by intoxicants as well anti-depressants.
He skipped from one manager to the other, even his belle Bounty Lisa tried to steer the ship but the task of keeping one of the biggest musical talents in Zimbabwe is proving to be an unsustainable endeavour.
She hit an iceberg in icy cold waters.
Plagued by chronic diseases
Just like roses carry thorns, both Denver Mukamba and Soul Jah Love have health complications which have presented challenges in their respective careers.
Denver has been in battle with asthma, a condition known to reduce athletic ability in sportspeople.
His rise despite the odds was seen as a sign of bravery and many lauded his resilience in the face of a cruel condition which has derailed many talents.
Recent reports however, suggest that the lanky footballer is now engaging in mood altering activities which could aggravate the condition he had flawlessly dribbled past, over the years.
Diabetic Soul Jah Love almost had a collision with fate in December 2016, when his leg was due for an amputation as a result of a rogue ulcer related to his condition. Prophet Walter Magaya prayed for him and averted the worst from happening. So we are told.
Heart-breaking images of him performing from a wheelchair are still etched in the minds of many, probably excluding Soul Jah Love`s whose conduct has not reflected a man trying not to return to the sunken place he escaped from.
Possibility of redemption?
For the first time in many years, the enigma Soul Jah Love is nowhere near the dancehall charts, neither is he blazing from commuter omnibus speakers.
The act has turned forgettable and maybe, just maybe when he gets his act together he can resuscitate a career whose foundation was built on unquestioned lyrical competence.
Denver Mukamba, on the other hand has reportedly been playing early bird at training sessions. Signs are, he is exhibiting a positive energy towards playing hoping that the technical team at Dynamos are still patient with him. Whether or not the resurgence being mounted by the duo will materialise remains to be seen, but as things stand they fit the bill of being Zimbabwe`s flurry potential holders. Talents which dominated in the early days and faltered where it mattered the most, when it was time to consolidate their places in the hearts of Zimbabwe. One would hope that whatever the outcome, the pair does not end being another tale of talent contaminated in pauperism.
We all saw how M.C Villa died in an unenviable space, may the curse avoid Denver`s Soul?