I’VE spent all week trying to think of how I’d write this. I’ve thought about how I’d start telling the story and ultimately how I’d end it. But still, five days later, nothing sounds perfect enough.
It’s a bitter pill to swallow when someone is here one minute, and the next minute they’re gone. I woke up to news of the passing of hip hop musician Cal Vin (Mgcini Nhliziyo) early on Sunday morning after a hit and run accident.
At around 6.34AM a friend texted, “Ko Cal Vin afa nei?” I woke up with a start. At this point, I had no idea what had happened or that he was no more. The message was from an unlikely person, someone I didn’t think listened to Cal Vin’s music, or even knew him for that matter. I sat up and sought to verify the news from a few credible sources. But before I could go too far, I noticed a string of WhatsApp statuses by my contacts paying tribute to Cal Vin.
#RIPKingCal, Gone too soon dawg, Rest easy mntakaManax. I kept rolling the statuses and couldn’t hold back tears. Cal Vin was really gone!
I remembered how our paths had crossed in the first place. It was after the 2016 National Arts Merit Awards ceremony in Harare. I had written a review of the red carpet and Cal Vin was one of the celebrities who, in my opinion, had missed it. I had nothing nice to say about his outfit. In fact, it was a little venomous.
I had said, “Cal Vin in trying to embrace his hip hop culture missed the plot completely. Like somebody said — he looked like he went straight to the awards ceremony en-route from a jogging session. The track bottom and bandana were just too laid back.
“You can’t tracksuit your way on a red carpet! Cal Vin justified himself saying he was dressed to perform but what was the rush Mr Rapper — you could have simply worn a tux and changed into your stage attire when it was time for your performance!
“Which human being is advising you? You need to appreciate that appearance is everything. Yes, the content of the music matters but you don’t want to be found dressed like a hiker!”
I had lost love with a few celebrities over such reviews before. But Cal Vin surprised me. A few days after the article was published, he visited our newsroom, as usual. But this time it was not to see Bongani, our Showbiz Reporter. He wanted to see me, the girl owayembhale kubi.
We had never had a one-on-one conversation before then, you can imagine how awkward it was. He came over to my desk, and stood there for a second before saying a word.
I lifted my head because I could sense that there was someone standing near me. My first thought when our eyes met was, “oh boy”, but the guy smiled at me.
I said hello, grudgingly, and Cal Vin chuckled a little. I still hadn’t let my guard down. I offered him a seat and his opening line as he sat was, “You’ve no idea how much pressure you’ve put me under. You were right, but eish…” We spoke about the article. We had a good laugh. That was the start of our relationship.
We spoke about the country’s fashion scene, celebrities and their treatment of the red carpet. Zimbabwe still had a long way to go as far as awards ceremonies were concerned, we agreed. We exchanged numbers and would occasionally chat on the phone. He would send me links and various audio forms of his new music.
Whenever he visited the newsroom for other business, he always made it a point to come over and say hie. I knew Cal Vin appreciated my opinion after seeing him at the Zimbabwe Music Awards that same year. He cleaned up really nicely and looked dapper in a suit and a crisp white shirt. He even changed into a different outfit for his performance. I was really proud of my friend. Of course, I wrote a review.
I said, “Attending the Zimbabwe Music Awards, Cal Vin undoubtedly looked like the hip hop star that he is. All you need now is consistency Cal Vin — you’ve set the bar high and we’ve seen what you’re capable of, keep the momentum going. You just never know who is watching. You might even get yourself a corporate gig or endorsement deal primarily because of your appealing image.”
He never dropped the ball. The Roil Bulawayo Arts Awards, Zima, Nama, whatever it was– he turned up!
It was really beautiful to watch. He knew he was a star and realised the importance of looking like one when it mattered. It’s really sad that he’s no longer here for me to critique his apparel or cheer him on. Khloe can no longer play with her daddy. His mother has lost a son. I and many others have lost a friend.
No one deserves to die in the manner that he did. So violently. No one, especially not Cal Vin.
Your music will always be a reminder of the beautiful person that you were. A really nice guy who just wanted to make music. Rest easy King Cal. — @Yolisswa