Winky D: People’s champion or diva?
ON Saturday night at the Large City Hall car park in Bulawayo, while fans sang along to his lyrics and danced to the crisp sounds coming from his impressive band, Winky D cut a majestic figure.
Wearing a matching white jacket and pants with black inscriptions, the Ninja president looked very much the royalty that his now signature pharaoh headgear suggests he is.
The dancehall star ran through an array of hits that stretched over half a decade, and one could have been forgiven, as he spit out his rhymes at machine gun speed, if in that moment they felt that it was Winky D’s coronation rather than Jah Prayzah’s groundbreaking album rollout.
After his crowd engaging performance was over, only an unreasonable critic would be unsatisfied by yet another five star outing for Winky in the City of Kings.
However, fans in the VIP section of the well attended show would have a different tale to relay. Fans’ faces lit up as he approached from backstage, with many jostling to get to a position where they could shake his hand or take selfies, as has become the norm with international or local artistes.
After his admittedly gruelling set however, the Ninja president did not seem in any mood to interact with his subjects, cutting through eager fans like a hot knife through butter as he fixed his sights on the exit.
The star’s entourage would not let any fan touch their highly fancied charge, shrugging off the hands of those that got too close for comfort.
Most in the VIP were shocked into silence in the aftermath, but for those who have attended his shows previously, it was just another night in the life of the Ninja president.
When he performed at Hartsfield Tshisa Nyama earlier this year, fans were again given a cold shoulder as he jumped into a waiting commuter omnibus after his performance.
Despite his popularity, Winky D has never been one to interact with his followers. Seemingly camera shy, the star does not have many pictures with fans and has a negligible presence on social media where his Twitter and Facebook pages are mainly updated to announce upcoming shows. He rarely gives interviews to the media, who mainly go through his manager for anything related to the star.
In contrast, the man who many see as his main rival for the Zimbabwean music throne, Jah Prayzah, is highly visible on social media where pictures of him gleefully embracing grateful fans abound.
Winky D’s eagerness to avoid the camera lens is perhaps best signified by the fact that he has a few videos for his songs, which echoes the behaviour of the late great Leonard Dembo who only officially released two videos at the height of his popularity. An apt illustration of this is that almost a year after the song started obliterating the charts and dominating the playlists of DJs, his song Disappear still does not have a video.
Some might take his camera shyness and attitude towards fans as both a weakness and strength. To some it signifies an artiste who is not fond of gimmicks but is only concerned with the business at hand. Give him a mic, his band and Winky D will give you a performance worth the money you paid. Expect nothing more, nothing less.
For others, however, it is a shortcoming as it makes a much loved star seem cold and unwelcoming. According to a Bulawayo promoter who booked the star for a show last year, the Disappear hit-maker is hard to control and behaves like a prima donna. “Personally as a promoter he treated me like rubbish. When he came for the show he refused to engage with fans and I fought to get members of the press an interview but I was turned down. He has this mentality that he is too big a star to interact with mere mortals like us and he has a severe god complex,” said the promoter who spoke anonymously. According to Winky D’s manager, Jonathan Banda, the star is apprehensive about flashing a smile for the camera or engaging fans because he has had bad experiences with rowdy fans in the past. “There are a lot of factors involved in terms of allowing his interaction with fans or not. On Saturday, for example, he was quite tired and he needed to go and rest because we had many shows on the trot in the last few weeks. “Security is also quite tricky and one time in the UK a fan sprayed him with an unknown substance and he collapsed. All those are things to factor in,” he said. — @ BruciEEye