Zim dancehall stalwart Sylvester “Freeman” Chizanga was reportedly caught stealing meat from a butchery he used to work before music and fame.
Freeman recalls the old days when things were tough for him and he did many hard labour jobs to earn a living after relocating from Bindura to Harare.
Speaking to the Herald, he recounts the many odd jobs he undertook.
Last weekend, he bagged two gongs at the 21st National Arts Merit Awards ceremony held in the capital.
After amassing wealth in a short space of time in the form of properties and cars, Freeman says he cannot forget the trials and tribulations he encountered while growing up.
“When I penned the track ‘Nhamo Yakandionesa Chitsvuku’, I really meant it my brother.
“It was not an ordinary song but the story of my life considering what I encountered over the years.
“When I recall the past, it seems like I am dreaming considering where I came from,” he says.
Freeman reckons reality dawned on him when he left Bindura to come and settle in Dzivaresekwa.
“I was popular in Dzivaresekwa for my passion for music but I was not born there.
“I adopted Dzivaresekwa as my ghetto because I stayed there for a long time when I was still working as a butcher at Montana Meats in Snake Park.
“I worked for the company for some months but that was never my calling of being a butcher,” recalls the singer.
The HKD boss vividly remembers one of the nasty experiences which almost got him into trouble.
“At Montana Meats, I was promoted to become a supervisor but we parted ways unceremoniously after I was caught stealing meat towards the Christmas holidays.
“I used to steal meat so that I could resale and get money to impress my lover but I ran out of luck which resulted in my dismissal.
“After being fired, it meant that I was supposed to look for another job to ensure that I pay my bills and rent. I did not think of going back to Bindura because it would mean that I had failed as a man,” says Freeman.
The father of three boys recalls how he used to play “cat and mouse” with municipal cops while eking out a living as a sand poacher.
“Since my cousin and I had driver’s licences, we ended up venturing into sand poaching in Epworth where we could get Us$10 per load.
“I would load pit sand in the lorry with others when there was a shortage of manpower.
“It was a risky business with council authorities and other competitors.
“I did not quit music since it gave me comfort when I was doing all these menial jobs, which meant I needed to continue working hard.”
Following his triumph as the just ended Namas, Freeman believes he has achieved the biggest accolade in Zimbabwe.
He bagged two accolades – Outstanding Male Artist and Outstanding Album of the Year.
“The award came as a major surprise to me since there was stiff competition in the category.
“My fellow nominees really worked hard and I never thought I would emerge the overall winner in the two categories I was nominated.
“The only time that I was convinced I had worked hard was when I released the album Gango, which did very well on the charts.
“My fans endorsed the album as a success but I was disappointed when I failed to win the big ones,” says the singer.
Freeman, who treats the Nama gongs as national treasures, will celebrate his victory in style.
“I have organised a big social soccer tournament in Dzivaresekwa in April, which will be followed by a musical show in the evening at DZ Sports Stadium.
“Of course I have won 11 other awards before but this one deserves to be celebrated in a big way to ensure that we leave a mark.
“I will be celebrating the accolades with the same people who were there when I started my career.”
He, however, says the pressure after setting the bar high was now immense.
“I can feel the pressure because my fans keep on demanding that I give them more stuff of superior quality.
“I cannot afford to disappoint them because I have shown them what I am made up of.
“I have also proved to my fans that I am not a one-hit wonder but a creative genius hungry for success,” says the chanter.
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Like any other high profile musician, Freeman has been a victim of imposters.
“There are people who have been moving around claiming to be me. Some have been hooking up with prostitutes in the Harare Avenues area using my name and getting free services.
“There is even one look-alike of me who dresses and talks like me who has been fleecing people claiming to be me. At one point we approached him and he became violent but we gave him a strong warning to stop using my name.
“It is very unfair for people to move around impersonating others because my name is the one which gets soiled at the end of the day,” says the singer.
Besides music, Freeman is also a hustler and farmer.
“I am also into farming, I was given some piece of land by my uncle.
“ Last year we planted maize and we are looking forward to a good yield.
“I also do other things for survival and it is my wish that I continue working for my family.”
A member of Emmanuel Apostolic Church, Freeman is a God-fearing artist.
“I’m born again Christian, a Madzibaba to be precise. I have given my life to Christ the Saviour and my Provider,” he says.
To date, he has released a number of albums comprising “Tapinda Tapinda”, “Last Man Standing”, “Vabeliever”, “New Chapter”, “Varidzi Vezvinhu”, “Mangoma Hobho”, “Mukuru Wecompany”, “Gango”, “Kusuka EP”, “Top Striker” and the latest album “David & Goliath”