“My family is in poverty right now. Because of this sickness I’m failing to work yet I’m supposed to be the breadwinner. I have six children here in Chitungwiza and four in Norton plus my two wives, myself and my mother. All these people need to be fed,” said Dickson “Cde Chinx” Chingaira, in an interview at his home.Rumoured to have died twice in recent years, Cde Chinx says his battle with an unknown ailment since 2013, has sometimes made him wish he would just die as he cannot fend for his family.
At first they thought it was arthritis, then TB and even gout, but after a series of tests I emerged clean. Now they suspect it is cancer yet still the specialists I have been to are not sure,” said the revolutionary musician.
Cde Chinx says Government has assisted him in getting medical assistance and sending him to the best doctors the country has to offer, yet they all cannot pinpoint exactly what is eating him. He says even the army has intervened.
“I really appreciate all the help I have got and continue to get in as far as getting treatment is concerned. The army has also taken me to its specialists but still they are not certain what I am suffering from. In the end all they give me are painkillers — strong painkillers that require food, food which I do not have,” said Cde Chinx.
The “Roger Confirm” singer says whatever disease he is suffering from makes him weak in the joints. He equates the kind of pain he experiences to being mauled by lions all over the body but without dying.
His wife Patricia, whom he lives with in Chitungwiza said she wonders what kind of pain he undergoes as he cries like a little baby when in agony.
“Vanochema kunge mwana mudiki. Kana kusimuka havasimuke ipapa tinotoita vekuvatakura, vanopera simba. (He cries like a baby when in pain. We have to carry him because he will be too weak),” said Patricia, who met Cde Chinx during the liberation war in Mozambique.
She added: “He is always sleeping, sometimes crying. We don’t even know what to give him, he is the breadwinner. We have no food in the house yet we can’t divert what we have for medicine, we need him to stay alive.”
The desperation has seen Cde Chinx try all avenues including self-styled prophets, apostolic faith churches and other healers.
“The church guys and prophets just say ‘you are healed’ but when I come back home it is still the same, I’m in excruciating pain. I have been to all the popular ones (prophets). However, I do get some relief from traditional medicine but still it is not sufficient.
What baffles me is that during the war, we were ravaged by sicknesses, terrible diseases that could have wiped us out but we survived. But now in a free Zimbabwe doctors are telling me they can’t detect the ailment. No wonder some people are now saying ‘chivanhu’,” Cde Chinx lamented.
For the pain, Cde Chinx says the doctors have resorted to giving him morphine, a narcotic drug, which is used to treat severe pain as it acts directly on the central nervous system.
Cde Chinx says this drug and others that he has been prescribed make him “very hungry”, but there is not much that can be done as his food cabinet is almost always bare.
“These tablets need food, but I’m unable to work. I get medicine, like I said in that department I have received a lot of help. But if I do not get food this medicine will end up eating me.
“I have a lot of mouths to feed and right now I do not have any peace of mind. I have to wonder where my children and grandchildren will get their next meal. It is really killing me. I’m appealing to anyone out there who can help me in this regard. As soon as I’m fit I will be back at work,” he said.
Cde Chinx says he has a farm in Marondera, has the manpower to at least till a small piece of the land but has no resources.
“Kurara sezvizvi kunoperekedza kuguva (sleeping like this will surely kill me). With medication and food I can get my strength back, finish my album, put something on my farm and stop this begging,” said Cde Chinx.
He says he has recorded a “seven-track scorcher”, just waiting for him to be back on his feet.
“Every time I feel better, I go to the studio. My mind is still sound. I will sing till I die. If my time has come, I will try to die in the studio making some music to leave behind, maybe my family can survive on it. I no longer go into town to record, we use these backyard studios.
“Because I’m sick I can’t travel far, I have to use every second of every minute wisely. However, I have discovered that there are very talented producers here, good instrument players and singers too,” said Cde Chinx.
He says he is also working with the Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services (ZPCS) band.
“I’m working with ZPCS. We want to release another seven-track album there. Music I believe is what is keeping me alive, so I try to be involved as much as I can.”
Cde Chinx last performed professionally at a national gala held in Harare in 2012. He says he had already begun feeling the symptoms of whatever disease is eating him now.
He is an award-winning artiste having scooped a double from M-Net Africa in the ’90s for his role in the movie “Flame”. In 2005 he received a Silver Jubilee Award at the National Arts Merit Awards (Most Inspiring Song of the Liberation War) for the song “Vanhu Vese Vemu Africa”.
A few years ago he was awarded the Chairman’s Award at the Zimbabwe Music Awards (Zima), which came with a special gift of a three-bedroomed house in Mabelreign. Although the house has been completed, Cde Chinx is yet to move in.