Viomak is arguably the only woman Zimbabwean protest singer and one of the country's popular protest musicians,and she now lives in Britain where she successfully claimed political asylum. Viomak's music can be obtained from hideout areas in Zimbabwe. Some recording companies in Zimbabwe refused to accept her music. Her protest music is banned from the airwaves of state-owned radio and print media. Viomak has been likened to opposition activists and journalists, who are being harassed and arrested under laws such as POSA designed to quell discontent.
John Mokwetsi, Entertainment Editor of the Independent Standard Weekly, says local broadcasters seem to have "shut out protest music and drama altogether." Despite the lack of media exposure, protest plays are still being staged and protest music is still being heard. Mokwetsi said that being banned, in fact, could make artists more popular.
At a roadside bar north of Harare, people sing along to the songs of Viomak. Happy 83rd Birthday album makes much better listening that her previous work. It is also a frank assessment of the crisis in Zimbabwe and rightly squares the blame on Mugabe's shoulders, who she accuses of being locked in denial.
The Zimbabwean government has long been intolerant of criticism, but since winning just a narrow victory in the general election in 2000, President Mugabe and his ruling Zanu (PF) party have clamped down harder and harder on free expression. Many Zimbabweans want their musicians to take a stronger political stand against the growing repression. People like Mokwetsi believe other artists should speak out more strongly.
"There is an element of fear in people's reluctance to do so, although musicians here are used to speaking in riddles, their words carrying hidden meanings that people understand but which aren't explicitly critical," he told The Zimbabwean. "Many of us believe musicians should be more direct in telling it like it is. . . . If our musicians sing about society, then surely there is no way they can avoid political matters. They should be social and political commentators too.A whole lot of news about this great Zimbabwean woman is at http://viomakcharitymusic.com/news/
Audios about her interviews are available at http://viomakcharitymusic.com/audios.html
In May 2007 Viomak set up the Servants Of Truth Band in Britain comprising of Seven Zimbabwe well known musicians .Most of the backing group members have played with known Zimbabwe musicians.What also makes Viomak a household name in Zimbabwe is that she backed herself on the two albums released so far.Viomak has shifted from the usual style of protest music by the likes of chimurenga guru Thomas Mapfumo and a few others who sing in riddles against Robert Mugabe's governance.Viomak sings direct and mentions Mugabe's name in her lyrics a thing no other musician has done in Zimbabwe.The courage of this musician makes her unique in Zimbabwe's music history. She calls her music political gospel, a genre no other Zimbabwean musician has dealt with.
Voto Radio Station
As her musical struggles continued,Viomak and her manager found a way of evading censorship in her home country. On Zimbabwe's Independence Day, 18 April 2008, she and her team launched 'Voto (Voices Of The Oppressed) Radio Station which strictly airs Zimbabwe Protest Art' on the internet with the aim to focus on the importance of freedom of musical expression in a country where opposing voices are severely oppressed.
1.Happy 82nd Birthday President R.G Mugabe (Emotions Of The Emotionless).Viomak released this album on 12 February 2006 to mark Mugabe's 82nd birthday.
2.Happy 83rd Birthday President R.G Mugabe (Bones of A 30-Year-Old), released in Zimbabwe on 21 February 2007 is a compilation of soulful and hard-hitting ballads that tell of a country in crisis and of leaders impervious to the idea of relinquishing power. This album is a sequel to her first album Happy 82nd Birthday President R.G Mugabe, which was relatively popular This protest music is banned from the airwaves of state-owned media. The eight-track album features songs such as Inzwa Mugabe (Listen Mugabe), Mugabe Usambozvinyengedza (Mugabe don't fool yourself), and Mangwanani Baba (Good morning daddy). The album delivers one straight message: Mugabe must go if the country is to be saved from further collapse.
3.Happy 84th Birthday President R.G Matibili(Great son Of Malawi),is Viomak's third album,released on 21 February 2008.The eight track album exposes Mugabe as a Malawian whose ancestral name is Matibili.The lyrics are as usual a chronicle of the political events in Zimbabwe and a cry for Matibili to leave power,whilst exposing the president's incompetence and human rights abuses.
Viomak still finds it an uphill task to distribute her protest music in Zimbabwe. On 10 March 2007,she performed at a rally to mark the suffering of Zimbabwean women who can't afford sanitaryware.