When the chickens come home to roost

25 Feb, 2024 - 00:02 0 Views
When the chickens come home to roost Winky D

Bruce Ndlovu, Sunday Life Reporter 

NINE years after the song Disappear started blazing a trail on the Zimbabwean music scene, Winky D fans were last week shocked to find the smash hit song was no longer available on video sharing channel, YouTube. 

In an ironic twist, the song had disappeared, as its title suggests, leaving no trace behind and confused looks on the faces of Gafa fans that might have been searching for another dose of the dancehall maestro’s timeless party tune on the platform. 

The song, alongside another tune, Mirror, is now a digital ghost, living only on the flash sticks and memories of Winky’s die-hard fans.  

The two tracks were victims of an alleged copyright complaint by Kenako Muzik, the forgotten record label that once housed Oskid, a man responsible for several of Winky D’s hits over the years. 

Oskid’s Midas touch is littered all over the Gafa Life Kickstape, a project some regard as the best from a musician whose career is studded with gems. The alleged copyright strike on Disappear and Mirror meant that Winky was now just a strike away from having his entire YouTube channel pulled down, cutting him off from his multitudes of fans in Zimbabwe and beyond. 


According to some music insiders, Winky D allegedly had an agreement of a 60/40 split of royalties when the album was made and now, the chickens have come home to roost, with Kenako demanding its dues. While two songs have been pulled from YouTube, the record label had other songs from that album to flag and trigger a fatal blow to Winky’s YouTube page. Not Nice, Gafa Life, Idya Mari, Survivor, which features Shinsoman, the ironically titled Copyrights and Woshora were some of the songs remaining from the Kickstape that had been left unscathed. By the middle of last week, these songs had been removed by Winky’s team from his page. 

The Gafa’s tribulations came only a week after Jah Signal had found himself on the end of a copyright strike that also placed his page in danger after Charles and Olivia Charamba’s Fishers of Men flagged him for sampling the song Tengai Mafuta on his smash hit song Sweetie. 

The sudden outbreak of copyright strikes and allegations of artistes stealing melodies has raised concerns that the country’s musicians are not familiar with laws that govern copyright and intellectual property rights. While Winky and Jah Signal are accused of two different transgressions, one for not remitting royalties and another for “remixing” a song without the original composer’s permission, some believe that the two cases illustrate the fact that, a lot of artistes have been sitting on copyright complaints because their eyes were not open to action that they might take to claim what is theirs. 

“Musicians in Zimbabwe are generally not sufficiently educated about this,” said blogger and arts commentator Plot Mhako. “It is actually  deep-rooted because this is a subject that not a lot of people have been talking about, but it has been affecting a lot of creatives. It is not just musicians but even people in other fields, like fashion designers, are grappling with issues to do with copyright and intellectual property. 

“There’s not a lot of information available for artistes to access regarding the issue locally and in addition to that, the artistes and the managers are not taking enough time to invest in understanding the subject. Digital platforms are fast-changing in terms of how they deal with matters relating to copyright and other things.” 

Mhako said he believed that Jah Signal and Winky D’s cases might have kick-started an avalanche that will likely gather pace in the next few months.

Jah Signal

“There are many issues at hand and the situation is fast-changing and the only way that people felt that they could address these issues and express themselves was through YouTube but beyond that we have to realise that this is a deep rooted issue. We have seen a lot in terms of artistes reacting to their copyrighted work being abused and we are going to see more in the future because the root challenge has not been dealt with. 

“There’s knowledge gap and a lack of education. So until artistes, their managers and teams have an appetite for knowledge, we will be having a lot of problems because there will be a lot of scenarios or circumstances that people will find themselves that will be to their detriment. This can either be sampling songs, collaborating or even playing instruments on a song because everyone has a right there. It all comes down to how people handle split sheets and the property rights emanating from that,” he said. 

Rapper Asaph said musicians in the country were not aware of the steps they needed to take when clearing pieces of music of another artistes’ work they might have used in making their own songs. 


“Well, basically artistes are not well versed on what really goes on when it comes to clearing tracks and handling copyrights. Even just the term clearing tracks, I don’t think a lot of artistes know what it means. I don’t think they know who they can approach or talk to when it comes to all of that. They don’t know what the procedure to get a track or sample cleared,” he said. 

Asaph said there was a need from the country’s music bodies to educate artistes on what they stood to lose and gain from knowledge of copyright laws. 

“More information is needed and I guess the Zimbabwe Music Rights Association (Zimura)could be responsible for making sure that type of information is readily available and at the disposal of musicians. I have been seeing the drama unfold over the last few weeks and what is amazing is that this is not involving small artistes but big artistes that are being penalised for songs that they have sampled. Now, if this is happening to those guys, what of artistes that have just started. So, I think that information is really necessary,” he said. 

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