The Rise of Van Choga

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Sharon Kavhu

Windhoek Some have called him ‘crazy’, while others have labelled him  a drug addict because of his extraordinarily high level of energy and passion for his music. Well, that did not stop him from doing what he loves the most- ‘entertaining people’.

He started pursuing his musical career in the year 2010 after completing his GCSE O Level exams when he recorded his debut track -‘Bikita.’

It took him 9 years to be in the limelight, today he is well known in the musical industry as ‘Van Choga’. His lyrical content and statements on public platforms are now being used for #VanChoga Challenges, to an extent that even celebrity comedians such as Mai Titi are also participating. The challenge has been trending on social media for more than two weeks now.

Born as Valentine Choga (27), the Zim Dancehall singer had a chat with The Southern Times last week where he shared his secrets to stardom.

The 27 year old talent is identified by his unique dance and funky hair styles that are complemented by an outfit of torn clothes and a face patched with charcoal. For some the attire may seem crazy but, to him it carries a meaning.

“My outfit and style is just a reflection of my reality and that reminiscence with  a lot of my fellow countrymen. I am not that type of a person that goes to borrow clothes to portray an image that I am not. I can’t pretend to be a person who has a fancy life on camera and at the same time back home l am facing up to a harsh reality. I have accepted my reality without shame. We can still all be happy no matter how well up or not we are,” said Van Choga.

“Things are really tough. Growing up in Zimbabwe, the economic situation has never been favourable for us low class people for as long as I can remember.  As such the only thing we can afford to do is to make ourselves laugh and have fun. I realised that if I can make anyone smile, or even laugh at me I can also shift their attention from their hardships and stress for a while. I acknowledged that a little laughter can be a therapy for my fellow countrymen, and we all win.”

His outfit that may appear scruffy resembles all the people that are looked down upon by our society. The fact that the outfit sometimes has dirt  represents people whose jobs are looked down upon.

On the other hand many urban contemporary musicians in the southern African region have a tendency of portraying an image that they want against their reality. Some sing about the things they don’t have for instance in Hip-Hop, they can do videos driving fancy cars they don’t own in real life. However, for Van Choga is all about reality.

Van Choga said his energy is inspired by traditional dances such as ‘Mbakumba dance’ from Zimbabwe which has energetic expressions just like all the African traditional dances.

He added, “I wanted to be different and my inspiration came from Jamaican artists such as Elephant man. For instance, Elephant man is well known with his colourful hair that comes in red, yellow, white and orange. I remember in 2005 I was so amused by these talents that I ended up trying to dance imitating their styles. Their art inspired me to also start doing dance competitions at school and community just for fun until it became something that kept me out of trouble. It became a safe place for me to just express myself and shut myself from all the problems the world has given.”

He said he hopes his music will also make a significant impact across nations, continents and the globe just like Nigerian and South African music.

Van Choga has not yet done any collaborations with other artists but has shared the stage with Seh Calaz during his second lock down concert-‘Gara mumba iwe’ hosted by Passion Java. His first online live concert during the lockdown was on ‘Nash TV’.

Although he has been in the industry since 2010, his journey to fame began in August 2019 when the Magaba riddim Medley was released  by Yala nation.

“My musical path is looking positive, last year when Yalanation Studios was opened in Mbare by Zimdancehall artist Seh Calaz, it paved  way for all the artists who did not have resources like me to record as well as  free recording for all. Now they are working with me and they have availed all their resources to further my musical journey. I still work with all the guys whom I started my musical journey with like Dan Killer productions and Yalanation has become my home as they understand my art as it is.”

He said he is currently working with some established producers on his  upcoming projects.

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