PROPHET Passion Java is a man mired deep in controversy; his life is a bewildering case of extreme ironies that make many people question whether he fits the moral compass of a cleric. Snippets of him dancing, singing along to dirty lyrics and partying with non-Christians have inundated the internet of late.
However, despite all the mysterious activities, one thing has become clear and that is the fact that the showy prophet has a profound interest in the arts and music in particular although it is uncertain why.
Two weeks ago, in scenes fit for a Hollywood script, he stormed Harare from the United States for the local leg of his 32nd birthday celebrations and as anticipated, the welcome event was attended by celebrities from across the spectrum including Chillspot Records.
In turn, the man, who has been influencing a lot of pop culture including street lingo, did not disappoint as he splashed cash in what was to become the hallmark of his presence during his brief stay in the country.
While in Harare, he hosted Twabam Nyama, a music concert where revellers got to watch different Zimdancehall acts, ate free meat and drink all sorts of liquids for free at Alex Sports Club. Not a single word from the Bible was shared. Instead, the event ended in chaos.
He may have made up for it on the next day when he held a night of worship at 7 Arts Theatre with Zimpraise Choir singing before he took to the podium to preach.
That is the schedule of a man strangely enjoying the best of both worlds, that is, Christianity and the secular side. Whatever his intentions, Java’s interest in Zimdancehall has started raising eyebrows and that is because he seems too vested for someone not benefitting anything.
Recently, he shot down reports that he had given Chillspot a hefty pay out to sign star chanter Enzo Ishall under his Passion Java Records (PJR), but the lie failed to hold after it later emerged that he also signed South Africa-based Buffalo Soulja.
When questioned over his benevolence to artistes, Java claimed that he was just offering a helping hand, but it is the publicity around the assistance that has made many view the man as a culture vulture seeking to amass prominence by associating with famous names in music circles.
Further fuelling this insinuation is the anomaly of having a perceived man of the cloth not only dining with artistes pursuing a secular message but also bankrolling them.
“I don’t like church people, I don’t like people who pretend to be holy, I don’t want people who try to walk like a god, I want people who are themselves,” says Java in a YouTube video posted in 2015.
While launching PJR back then, he said the label, which came as a God-inspired vision in 2003, was meant to “remove all these things” caused by secular music.
“One thing about Passion Java Records, I met Lil Wayne in Brooklyn in the States and I told him I am opening a recording company that is going to remove all these things that you are doing because Jesus Christ is taking over,” he said.
“With Passion Java Records we are taking over, it might be in hip hop, sungura (and) in whatever music.”
Back then he worked with hip hop’s renowned producer Take Fizzo and gospel rapper Mudiwa Hood among others, but now he has switched to Zimdancehall chanters who have proved more popular among urbanites.
If done in a sincere manner, this indeed could be a masterstroke for the man of the cloth. However, his current approach where they sing him praises raises more questions than answers as he now appears to have immersed himself too deep into the culture, ostensibly aborting the soul winning mission.
“How can you get them to where you are if you are not where they are? You have to be wise like a snake and be gentle like a dove in order to win souls for Christ,” he told journalists at Twabam Nyama.
“The first miracle Jesus performed was changing water into wine so that he could attract drunkards and preach to them. People need to understand that times are changing. We used to hold crusades with tents outside but things have changed and people have to follow the season,” Java said.
While it may be very hard to state exactly what Java’s end goal is, some clerics like Walter Magaya and T Freddy have been accused of using musicians to attract attention to their projects.
The former is said to attract more people to his church through live music shows while the later jump-started his gospel career after funding artistes.
Ultimately, only time will tell if Java is just a culture vulture or a genuine man on a divine assignment of soul winning.