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Sizzla gets farm, settles in Zim
REGGAE superstar Sizzla Kalonji has ditched his native Jamaica and relocated to Zimbabwe after being rewarded with a farm for performing at President Robert Mugabe's 86th birthday celebrations in February.
“I am here to stay,” Sizzla told the state-owned Sunday Mail weekly newspaper. “Zimbabwe is home. I have received tremendous welcome.”
His spokesperson Olimatta Taal confirmed that rather than pay the artist in cash for performing at President Mugabe’s birthday bash Zanu-PF handed the Jamaican a farm located close to the town of Chegutu.
"Instead of giving him cash (for his performance) they gave him land. It is very honourable that he would take land instead of cash," Taal is reported as saying.
State-owned local media was quick to extol the development with the Sunday Mail declaring that the artist "was the latest and most important visitor to be swayed by the infectious Zimbabwean touch".
Olimatta Taal also said Sizzla’s Zimbabwe move had nothing to do with allegations that he was on the run from Jamaican authorities for gun crimes allegedly committed less than a month before President Mugabe's party.
A Jamaican online publication said the singer – born Miguel Orlando Collins – was arrested by police in Saint Andrew, Jamaica, on 29 January in connection with a shooting incident. He was released a day later when witnesses did not come forward.
A police spokesman said then that investigations were ongoing and suggested Sizzla "could be detained in the future, if the need arises".
Meanwhile Sizzla, 34, has been quite effusive in his praise for President Mugabe urging the veteran leader to "champion the cause of the return of the African people from the gates of hell they are living in Jamaica and the Caribbean."
The Sunday Mail also stated that Kalonji had since been granted with a work permit and was working to consolidate business enterprises he has established locally to complement his singing profession.
“In Zimbabwe we have already started recording. I am also looking into areas Judgement Yard (his company) can invest in for the upliftment of Zimbabwean youths,” Sizzla said.
Sizzla leaves 'noble' Zimbabwe
Sizzla left Zimbabwe last Friday, telling reporters he would return to the southern African country with other reggae artistes. According to The Herald newspaper, Sizzla supported the government's controversial land reform programme, calling it 'noble'.
The reggae star first arrived in Zimbabwe for the 21st February Movement (a welfare programme for the country's youth) celebrations in the city of Bulawayo. He also performed at a party marking president Robert Mugabe's 86th birthday that month.
The Herald reported that Sizzla staged a farewell show in the capital, Harare, on September 6, where he mingled with fans.
Mugabe was one of the leaders of the revolution that toppled the racist regime of Ian Smith when the country was known as Rhodesia. He has led Zimbabwe since independence in 1980.
But his land reform (seizing properties of mostly white farmers) has drawn strong criticism internationally. Critics claim Mugabe has given the lands to relatives and cronies.
Mugabe's alleged attacks on opponents have angered many world leaders including Nelson Mandela. The Herald said Sizzla had different views on the land reform.
"I'm happy that the leadership here is doing everything to empower the majority with the land reform programme and the black empowerment drive, which is a noble idea," the publication quoted him as saying.