By Nkosana Dlamini
Still in his early teens, he left home for the streets where he abused drugs, hired ladies of the night at will and committed violent crime solely to maintain a life of sleaze.
Twice he got jailed for months after committing robberies in Harare’s CBD.
Even within prison walls, he could not be separated from illicit drugs which found their way in.
Such was the extent to which 23-year-old Nyasha Michael Bhila had lost his young life to immorality.
But by dint of courage and sheer miracle, Bhila has since transformed his story into a positive account of a one-time felonious adolescent to that of a promising hip hop artist and anti-illicit drug advocate.
At a recent event to launch a song and video, the artist took time to narrate how his young life had gone astray.
The event, themed, ‘An Ear for Mycole Biller’ – his stage name – was held at Theatre In the Park, Harare by philanthropic NGO, Chedenga Foundation Trust.
Dozens of children living in the street, one of Chedenga Fountation’s focus groups, formed part of the audience.
Narrated Bhila, “When we were loaded, we would hire ladies of the night from places such as Tipperary (Nite Club) but when we were broke, we would go and sleep in the open just by Copacabana (bus terminus).
“We used to take drugs big time. We took blue, white, pink drugs, you name it.”
The youth, who speaks fluent English, also narrated how he was later taken into a rehabilitation facility but that did not yield anything as he continued to abuse substance.
He continued, “I graduated from petty crimes to unlawful entry…I even stole phones from my own relatives.
“At some point, I drew a knife and robbed a person from whom I had sought help and demanded they hand over all they had in their possession.
“I was high on drugs and all that mattered to me was a bottle of intoxicating substance.”
Bhila was twice jailed and served time, at one time for 16 months at Kentucky Prison.
He speaks of how wrists now bear permanent handcuff scars from his many arrest experiences.
Life became tough while in prison as relatives who used to visit him during his first jail sentence gave up on him on his second.
This also meant descent food from outside also dried.
“Anga arimahora mafesi angu (It was a terrible experience guys),” Bhila says of sleeping on the cold prison floor.
Without anybody’s inducement, Bhila took the conscious decision to dump the life of drugs and crime when he had six months left of his second jail term.
“I took a bold decision to say madrugs handichada, crime handichada, timhu randaitamba naro rese handichada (I am turning away from a life of drugs, crime and toxic company),” he said.
Upon jail release, Bhila started making and selling some dish washers
He narrates how he would walk the streets picking up empty plastic containers, washing them and filling them up with the detergents.
With fresh determination burning in his young soul, he would fill up the containers, slog Harare’s sun burnt streets while selling the product at places such as Zindoga business centre.
“The containers were heavy as I carried them around, but I was determined to take this as a new way of life as I had made a conscious decision to dump crime and drugs,” he said.
The youth would later be employed and also promoted for his hard work by a businessman identified as Mapfumo who saw determination in him.
It is during such employment that the school dropout worked fingers to the bone, sometimes beyond normal working hours until he got promoted ahead of some of his workmates who were better schooled than him.
The youth left the job after five years to pursue a career in music.
He speaks of his temptation to return to drugs.
“Indeed, there are times when life gets too hard and my mind strays to returning back to my old way of life, but I adamantly tell myself that kumberi kwatirikuenda uko ndookuneyese (the future is on what I have now decided to pursue).
He took time to urge fellow youths who abuse drugs to make similar decisions.
Under the guidance of Chedenga Foundation Trust, Bhila has composed songs chronicling his horror lifestyle and the troubles associated with it.
He took time to perform three of his tracks, among them the song, Another Chance in which he implores society to forgive and accept back ex-convicts.
Bhila has received support from better established local musicians among them dancehall chanter, VChaks with whom he also collaborated on a track.