Cris Gera: Music in Me / Nziyo Dziri Mandiri

Fire on Track Nine

Listening Post 279. The singer-songwriter Cris Gera recorded his latest album, Music In Me/Nziyo Dziri Mandiri, in 2016, but more than three years passed before its release. The eight-track collection is a lively Afro-jazz/pop/R&B mix about love, hope and the challenges of everyday life in Zimbabwe, but a ninth song recorded separately and released only on social media grabbed the spotlight, eliciting death threats and turning the artist and his family into refugees. On the album, Gera’s satiny voice in Shona and English intones lyrics of endearment, fidelity and faith as well as denunciations of cheating and exploitation. He dedicates Mazirimi (Fire of Love, video 1) to his wife, and the message spreads to a quicker pace with Rudo Kechipiri (Falling in Love Again, video 2). He pivots to self-confidence in Kukanyaira (Walk Tall, video 3) and African solidarity in Mangwanani Sanibonani (Good Morning, video 4). Gera’s Ninth—a symphony to many, an affront to some—has yet to appear on an album but it qualifies as Music In Me and is indelibly tied to the tracklist. Prompted by the country’s deteriorating economic and political climate, the song, Chema Zimbabwe (Cry Zimbabwe, video 5), is a lament over hunger, corruption and unemployment and a plea for divine help: “If my people are united and cry to me,” he sings, “I shall hear their cry and answer them, so says God.” After Gera’s initial exile in South Africa, the International Cities of Refuge Network (ICORN) sent him to Sweden as an artist in residence; meanwhile Lidio, a Norwegian label specializing in musicians facing censorship and persecution, released his album. Gera doesn’t see himself as a revolutionary, but someone in Zimbabwe took his lyrics as a threat. And though the artist removed himself from the scene, his voice now carries farther and casts more light on his homeland than he ever imagined. (Lidio)

Cris Gera: Music in Me / Nziyo Dziri Mandiri
Cris Gera: Lead vocals
Admire Gatsi: Keys and synthesizer
Justin Makweche: Keys and synth 

Patrick Sita: Guitar
Simon Dabi: Guitar
Praise Nyandimu: Backing vocals
Itumeleng Sekhoto: Vocals 

 

Mazirimi / Fire of love
Music & lyrics: Cris Gera

(From the Shona lyrics)
When I promised to love you/
Honey I want you to know that I meant it
When I told you I will love you till death separates us/Sweetie I want you to know that I meant it
I want you to know what’s in my heart, concerning you/I want you to understand my heart

Fire of love darling/In my heart
You are the love of my life
Fire of love baby/In my heart
You are the mother of my children
Fire of love baby/In my heart
I will never love anyone else but only you
Fire of love sweetheart/In my heart
You are the mother of my kids

When I promised to love you/Honey I want you to know that I meant it
When I told you I will love you till death separates us/Sweetie I want you to know that I meant it
I want you to know what’s in my heart, concerning you/I want you to understand my heart

Fire of love darling/In my heart
You are the love of my life
Fire of love baby/In my heart
You are the mother of my children
Fire of love baby/In my heart
I will never love anyone else but only you
Fire of love sweetheart/In my heart
You are the mother of my kids

You and I have a covenant/Come what may, we will never break I and you have a covenant
Only death can separate us

 

Rudo kechipiri / Falling in love again
Lyrics & music: Cris Gera

If asked to marry again, I would marry you again/Because what you do to me baby really gets in my heart
I have fallen in love with you for the second time
I just thought of you whilst performing on stage and/I fell to the ground because I was missing you

I have fallen in love with you for the second time
I loved you from the first time I set my eyes on you and I gave you my heart
I just can’t do without you/I want you always by my side

To me you are the most beautiful woman in the world/I just can’t compare you with anyone else
You always put a smile on my face/If given a chance to marry again
I would still ask for your hand in marriage/With you am fulfilled

Ah – ah – ah you made me believe in love, ah – ah – ah and no one else
I have fallen in love with the same person for the second time
And I will continue falling over and over again

 

Kukanyaira / Walk Tall
Lyrics & music: Cris Gera

A barking dog does not make an elephant change how he walks/No matter how loud the dog barks
The elephant is never scared/Hu hu hu-hu……
The elephant is never scared

Regardless of the dog’s aggressiveness/The elephant walks tall knowing that a dog can never harm him
In this life we come across people who only want to challenge other people
They boast about themselves just because they have certain powers
When it comes to me, I am fearless and bold towards such people
I refuse to be intimidated/I refuse to be intimidated
Like an elephant I walk tall/I walk tall
Doesn’t matter what they say or do/I fearlessly walk tall
Like an elephant I walk tall and treat them like dogs

Regardless of their aggressive barking/I walk tall with my head held high
Oh-oh-oh-oh-oh oh
I know they set up thorns in my way
Ayiere-yiere…
They don’t want me to harvest
Ayiere-yiere…

May God please vindicate me from these evil people
They throw thorns in my way/Ayiere-yiere…
And they celebrate when I get hurt/Ayiere-yiere…

Oh God lead my way/Here on earth there are people but in heaven there is God
God in heaven sees everything and He protects me/Because of that I fear nothing at all

Like an elephant I walk tall/I walk tall
Doesn’t matter what they say or do/I fearlessly walk tall

Like an elephant I walk tall and treat them like dogs
Regardless of their aggressive barking/I walk tall with my head held high

 

Mangwanani Sanibonani / Good Morning
Lyrics & music: Cris Gera

Good morning/Good morning Africa
Sons of Zimbabwe, God has preserved you
Children of South Africa, may God bless you
People of Malawi, may God be with you
Sons of Nigeria, may God bless you

Have a blessed day/Be with you, God be with you
All of you, all of you

I-i-i-i-i-i-i-i-i-i-i-i
He ahumba hu, he ahumba hu

Good morning

 

Chema Zimbabwe / Cry Zimbabwe
Lyrics & music: Cris Gera
Gera recorded Chema Zimbabwe separately from Music in Me/Nziyo Dziri Mandiri. When he released the song on social media in December 2016 it played widely in Zimbabwe but also prompted a series of death threats which ultimately persuaded him to leave the country with his family. Since some of his music is still played on state radio, Gera speculates that the threats more likely came from pro-government thugs than from the regime itself.

The country and everything in it belongs to Jehova/God look at what’s happening
There are some who have taken the country and made it their own/There are some who have taken Zimbabwe and made it their own
They have taken it and divided it amongst themselves/They are the only ones with full stomachs, while some of us sleep on empty stomachs
They are the ones with full stomachs, while we have nothing to eat/They are the ones who fill their granaries, while we have nothing to eat
We also like nice things, everyone likes nice things/It’s an issue of bread and butter, my fathers

That’s why we are crying/It’s an issue of poverty and unemployment, that’s all
It’s an issue of bread and butter, my fathers/
That’s why we are crying
It’s an issue of corruption, there’s too much corruption/That’s making us cry

Our elders, we beseech you/We are not disrespecting you, please hear us
We want jobs, we want food/We are hungry, please fix things
We are your children, we beg you/A child who does not cry will die strapped to it’s mother’s back

If my people are united and cry to me, I shall hear their cry and answer them, so says God
We shall be made strong
Cry Zimbabwe, Cry for Zimbabwe, don’t be silent
Until you have been heard, Cry for Zimbabwe but do it peacefully.

 


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