ZIM dancehall star Tawanda Mumanyi, popularly known as Seh Calaz, faces arrest for allegedly recording and distributing an obscene song,
The artiste could be charged under the Censorship and Entertainment Control Act (Chapter 10:04). The Act regulates and controls the public exhibition of films; importation, production, dissemination and possession of undesirable or prohibited video and film material, publications, pictures, statues and records; the nature of acceptable public entertainments; and to provide for matters incidental to the foregoing.
The recently released song that is largely believed to be Seh Calaz’s work is laden with vulgarities and is circulating on social media in addition to being played in night clubs and public transport vehicles, prompting the Censorship Board to take action.
This is not the first time the talented chanter has released songs with unprintable lyrics.
Maybe the musician, who is also now known as Boss Yala, is getting encouragement to repeat similar offences from the fact that he has on several occasions gotten away with mere cautions for his behaviour.
Speaking to this publication last week, Censorship Board secretary Isaac Chiranganyika said they received complaints on Seh Calaz and several other artistes over obscene language in their music.
He said the board was working flat out to address the complaints via Zimbabwe’s censorship laws.
“They have been complaints about Calaz before and we cautioned him. After our intervention a while ago he appeared to have stopped producing obscene music but I hear he has started again. We have since tasked ZBC and other arms that we work with to look into the matter. Cases of this nature will be brought to the magistrates, who will in turn charge and fine faulting individuals or groups,” said Chiranganyika.
Zimbabwe Republic Police national spokesperson Senior Assistant Commissioner Charity Charamba said legal action would be taken.
“This is unacceptable behaviour and the culprits are going to be arrested. We appeal to members of the public to alert us each time they come across such unwanted material. Also we want to warn the public that it is not only against our culture to use vulgar but also illegal,” she said .
“In this case our inspectorate department is going to watch/listen to the production in question in their investigations and if there is any violation of the law, we are going to recommend legal action against the culprit, working with the Censorship Board.”
Seh Calaz’s publicist George Damson aka King George, however, distanced his man from the song despite it clearly sounding like the Mbare-bred artiste’s work. He claimed it was a fake Mabhanditi production by people seeking relevance and attention.
“Seh Calaz produced a song ‘Mhanya Nehupenyu Hwako’ after the Agricultural Show dancehall event, which was produced by Levels at Chillspot records. The clip circulating was taken from the song and had vulgarity (added),” said King George.
“The source of this — we do not know up to now. The claim that this was a deliberate publicity seeking stunt is laughable because our work speaks for itself and Seh Calaz is a role model and knows his boundaries. In the technological era we live in, a lot of these pseudo misrepresentations happen and we have no control over it. We have heard several times clips of artistes and politicians mimicked by other people. The clip is not even a minute long. How can Seh Calaz go into the studio to record a less than a minute song? To what end?”
Investigators will have to enlist the services of voice recognition experts to get to the bottom of the matter.
Nonetheless, it should be noted that Zim dancehall artistes just like is the case with American hip-hop stars are in the habit of producing radio and club versions of their music.
The market is increasingly being flooded with unclean from Zim dancehall and other genres, but few perpetrators face the legal consequences of their actions.
Chiranganyika said technological advances had seen backyard studios sprouting and this complicated the Censorship Board’s job.
“… it was easy back in the day as traditional studios knew our requirements and regulations hence improper material would not be recorded. Studios participating in these activities will also be investigated and legal action taken against them,” he said.
“Those that are using private studios to record dirty material do so at their own risk. We might not immediately push for action against them but once a member of the public raises a complaint, we will task the police inspectorate to investigate and arrest the culprit(s) and bring them before the courts just like we are currently doing with some identified culprits.”
But while it is easy to classify the alleged Boss Yala song and others as vulgar because of the explicit content, it is much harder when it comes to suggestive and cleverly masked lyrics used by the likes of Jacob Moyana, Soul Jah Love (“Gumkum”) and Platinum Prince.
“It is mandatory for singers to bring copies of their lyrics or scripts so that the body advises on suitability, necessary changes etcetera in line with laid down regulations but that is not happening and we are addressing that,” said Chiranganyika of the Censorship Board.