A few weeks ago Zimbabwean musician Jah Prayzah and his former dancer Gonyeti (Pamela Zulu) dominated the headlines after the dancer accused the musician of financial and sexual abuse. Gonyeti was pictured weeping as she told of her ordeal and exploitation under Jah Prayzah. Before that she had been regularly speaking to the press about how Jah Prayzah had mistreated her. The story generated a lot of attention. Very strong opinions on the matter were expressed. Jah Prayzah’s female fans defended him calling Gonyeti a liar, whore, gold digger and all sorts of derogatory names. Some defended Gonyeti choosing to sympathize with her on the matter. Opinions where very divided, and a lot of negative publicity was directed towards Jah Prayzah as he had a lot to lose on the matter. Some people were threatening to stop listening to his music, and in the eyes of the public, he was now seen as a sexual predator and a women oppressor.
Being a woman activist and blogger, I chose to use my platform to sympathize with Gonyeti mainly because of the abuse she was getting from women. I find it very difficult when women oppress other women, I can’t help but speak out. The issue also raised a lot of concerns within Zimbabwean culture and how the abuse of women is handled.
However as one of the women who publicly supported Gonyeti during her ordeal where she was accusing Jah Prayzah of abuse, I was rather surprised this last week when I saw a few stories of Gonyeti praising Jah Prayzah and thanking him for teaching her how to dance. I was even more surprised yesterday when I saw pictures of a flyer circulating online that confirmed Gonyeti and Jah Prayzah will actually be performing together. It was rather confusing for me and I’m sure a lot of honest people out there. Jah and Gonyeti seem to have kissed and made up. The sex abuse accusations and the financial abuse seem to have vanished and now everything is hunky dory between these two.
Now people seem to be clearly confused over this story mainly because of the sudden unusual turn that no one foresaw. One of my followers even inboxed me asking questions. Where they really fighting? Was she really abused? I don’t understand why she is doing shows with him? These are the questions I was asked. And I thought since I was very out spoken on this matter, its better for me to respond with an article. I also chose to respond this way because I saw a question on Facebook yesterday from a woman who was mocking those who stood by Gonyeti saying “All those so called women activists, say something. Where are you now?”
Well I am here. I defended Gonyeti and I am not ashamed of it. For me it was the right thing to do, morally, spiritually and socially. I went as far as to reach out to Gonyeti privately, I just didn’t blog and leave it there. Do I believe Gonyeti was abused? Probably. I think there was some truth in it. However it is very difficult to defend her now or say she was abused because she has denounced the abuse by showing the whole world that she and Jah are best friends again. She has now given the world the impression that she is a liar and a confused woman, which is rather sad and unfortunate, considering she had gained a lot of public sympathy and support. However I believe she was paid a good amount of money by Jah Prayzah as he had to do some damage control. I believe part of the payment was also for her to go out there and convince the public that nothing ever happened. In her situation, as a woman who is trying to make it in the entertainment industry and put food on her table, she felt she needed the money and the support of Jah Prayzah. I believe he promised her that if she goes out there and gives the impression that nothing ever happened, Jah would even back her shows. This was an offer Gonyeti could not refuse. That is my first impression of the saga. That is what I believe happened.
My second translation is that this could all be a publicity stunt for both of them. I do not believe it is, but it’s very possible. We now live in a world where people will do anything for publicity and money. Its sad but that’s a reality. Beyonce and Jay Z recently did it with Beyonce’s album Lemonade. Kim Kardashian may have faked her own robbery for crying out loud. In Zimbabwe and Ghana Pokello and Elikem faked their own Twitter fight for publicity when Pokello was about to launch her shoe range. A few months ago even Range Rover gave publicity stunt by spraying a brand new white car with red paint which read “cheater”. People even leak their own sex tapes to become famous. In Zimbabwe gospel musician Mathias Mhere went as far as to fake the cheating of his own wife just before he was about to launch his album. People will do anything for money. It will not surprise me, if this is all one big game that Jah Prayzah and Gonyeti played on us. If that’s the case it’s very disturbing because it will be one sick twisted game. Sexual abuse is never something to play around with, just for publicity and record sales, so for my own faith in humanity, I choose to believe that this was not a sick publicity stunt.
So what now? Should we start mocking the people who chose to support Gonyeti? Are they fools for taking sides? Of course not. That is just immature and stupid. They put their story out there, she cried out for help. And for those of us who believed her, we chose to offer support. This was a very serious issue. Should we hear that a woman is being abused and we just say “we can’t take sides, its between the two of them…” Then we are more depraved than Sodom and Gommorah. What Gonyeti has done is sad and very disappointing for every woman out there, especially those who are trying everyday to fight women oppression and abuse. It’s sad for those who are raising awareness on sexual abuse. It’s even sadder for those who are going through sexual abuse and exploitation.
I will never stop supporting abused women. If they cry out and their story is believable, there is no need why we should not support them. Just because this case took an unusual twist doesn’t mean all cases are like that. A lot of women out there are suffering in silence. The end result of this case is not what normally happens. Abuse is a very sensitive and complex issue. It is also very real and happening everyday. The positive thing that came out of this story is people spoke about abuse in the entertainment industry. I’m sure musicians will now think twice before sleeping with their employers. As for now, whether Gonyeti was truly abused is neither here no there. None of us knows for certain, but what we do know is at some point Gonyeti accused Jah Prayzah of sexual abuse and it caused a media storm. We spoke about it when it needed to be addressed. As it stands today, Gonyeti can praise Jah Prayzah all she wants and do as many shows with him, but she will never publicly deny that he never abused her because she openly uttered those words with her own mouth. That is the conclusion of the matter.