JAH Prayzah’s creative prowess has never been in doubt, and this has been confirmed by the several awards he has bagged over the years as well as endorsement deals struck with some corporates like Chicken Slice and the Zimbabwe Defence Forces for which he is the official goodwill ambassador.
The lanky musician’s charm and epic music videos have also endeared him to hordes of music fans that fill up his shows.But perhaps that’s where the super heroism ends and begins the ego, if recent reports are anything to go by.
The Murewa-born musician early this week made headlines for wrong reasons after failing to comply with police orders and tried to evade arrest along the Gweru-Shurugwi road tollgate. Jah Prayzah is said to have violated other Road Traffic Act sections, including driving an unregistered Mercedes-Benz E320.
He went as far as ordering his “mini troop” of band members to remove the cone barricades at the tollgate.
Jah Prayzah is further alleged to have sped off and after being cornered by the police, he then claimed he was connected to senior police officers including spokesperson Charity Charamba so he would not abide by orders from junior police officers.
Questions have been raised as to whether fame is now getting into his head as his conduct is far from that of an ambassador of the military where discipline reigns supreme.
This is not the first time the Kumbumura Mhute hitmaker has had a brush with the law enforcement agency. Early last year, he nearly got into trouble with the police for wearing his military gear in Avondale, alongside his band members away from the stage as was agreed as part of his ambassadorial role.
The law forbids any person from wearing military regalia or any kind of “camouflage” clothes with similarities to soldiers’ uniform.
The towering musician was then ordered to surrender every camouflage piece in his wardrobe as he was regarded as any other civilian citizen with limited privileges to wear the regalia only at shows and on official business.
Jah Prayzah’s manager, Keen Mushapaidze, yesterday was reluctant to speak on the musician’s conduct and was no longer answering his phone by end of the day.
The musician has been such a hit that he also featured on Population Services International (PSI) Zimbabwe’s male circumcision adverts as well as Dreamstar Talent Search and Chicken Slice.
People who spoke to NewsDay Weekender expressed mixed feelings over Jah Prayzah’s behaviour with some blaming the police for often giving celebrities special treatment while others called on Jah Prayzah to lead by example as someone who is regarded as a role model in society.
“Jah Prayzah needs to be reminded that he is not as big a star as he thinks he is and as a said ambassador for the army, his actions contradict everything that the army stands for. He must apologise for bringing the name of the army and police chiefs into disrepute and for that he must be punished,” said Brian Kasirori of Cranborne.
“To claim that Charity Charamba can actually order his release on the phone is just the same as saying Charamba can abuse the police processes and procedures as outlined in the Police Act. He must know that as an ambassador for many front row brands in the country, his behaviour is wrong and he should be answerable for it.”
Edward Dube from Sunningdale said celebrities must not behave in a way that makes their admirers take away the pride they hold for them.
“Fame demands greater responsibility, but Jah Prayzah is now quickly earning the badboy tag by engaging in serious mischief that could, if not already, tarnish his JP brand. He must apologise for disrespecting the police the way he did at that tollgate,” Dube said.
“Jah Prayzah must be reminded that dressing in military regalia does not mean he is an extension of the army and could, therefore, enjoy some privileges around the police.”
Godfrey Porusingazi of Mbare said Jah Prayzah was not above the law.
“Jah Prayzah must understand that no one is above the law, that is why Prosecutor-General Johannes Tomana is going under trial at the moment. If one breaks the law, he or she must be punished regardless of their status,” he said.
“Jah Prayzah’s behaviour is earning him bad publicity which can negatively affect the growth of his otherwise brilliant and promising career.”
Being a celebrity needs one to be a role model for society and they must lead by example as their behaviour continues to fall under constant public scrutiny and if it would go unchecked, they may be headed for the demise of their careers.