Mzbel: Her story, in her own words
The contemporary music diva gathers courage to speak publicly for the first time about her recent trauma
Mzbel hasn’t changed much since that horrid attack almost two months ago. Things have pretty much returned to normal and she’s now taking full control of her business dealings. The police patrols in her neighborhood are less intensive now and they haven’t had to deal with another high profile robbery case yet but residents still look over their shoulders even on pleasant days.
Inside her home in New Gbawe she lay sprawled out on a bunk bed in the room that used to be her office. The computer and DVD racks are gone; so is everything that made it her little comfort zone. She lazily flips the TV channels and drops the remote after a news flash. Not that she cares about the stories; the routine just allows her to drift off elsewhere.
The media has made it almost criminal to be a successful female artiste. She isn’t hiding behind the ‘gospel’ façade to express herself and that’s wrong in the eyes of the very people who use her music to hype their radio shows. Her song ‘16’, directly addressed our system of sexual exploitation, which most young women deal with almost on a regular basis. Funny thing is, she never thought for a minute she would live those realities of the hit track.
On the dawn of September 12th a masked stranger who threatened to kill her if she screamed yanked Mzbel off her bed. It took a while to snap out of the stupor. But when she did everything just went blank. The man in the mask came with two other accomplices and for what seemed like forever, the armed robbers took what they could in valuables and gang-raped Mzbel and one of her dancers who was a virgin at the time.
Post-rape trauma has a way of mentally shutting down the victim and that’s what happened to Mzbel.
“I’ve heard a lot of things since I started recovering and it’s made me a little disturbed, you know. I heard I went really berserk and I can’t even remember anything. But the people at SSNIT Hospital were really nice to us. We got our HIV tests and it came out negative and that eased the pain a little bit. But it hasn’t gone away.”
Mzbel’s voice fluctuates intermittently as she narrates her horror story and for moment she freezes at the side of the bed, tears in her eyes.
“The first guy raped me in the other room and the other guy brought me here and raped me again. He didn’t even listen to my persistent begging. I lied to him that I was pregnant and he said they had been sent to kill me so if they’ve decided to rape me instead I should just shut up. One of them said he’d cut my sides and pull out my intestines if I resisted. That thing broke my spirit and if I hadn’t started my album I don’t think I would have the strength to even write any songs.”
What people don’t know is that, Mzbel found the robbers by herself and had them arrested with the help of a lone cop and his friends at Labadi beach a few weekends ago. Mzbel says her management team abandoned her in the middle of the police investigation and she wants to keep it that way.
“The robbers used our phones to call some people after the robbery so we got police clearance to retrieve the numbers from the phone company and Goodies (her producer) just left town for three weeks when he knew I couldn’t do all the running around by myself. I had no money and he didn’t even care. I had donations up to about 20 million cedis and all I got was some 3 million cedis because Goodies supposedly paid my bills with the rest. I thought it was ridiculous but that’s alright. I don’t want to work with him any more. I’m still going to give him his 30% till my contract expires. But from now on I’m going to do all negotiations by myself.”
All kinds of false information have been circulated about Mzbel in the media. So for people observing from the outside, she deserved what happened to her, as if the absurdity of the situation doesn’t register. Posterity will judge Mzbel and many years from now, another generation would appreciate her for what she was: a typical artiste who just loved expressing herself through her music and her way of life.