23 January 2018
   
Museveni hails Trump for shithole slur
ZRP ‘Idiot’ Charamba loses cop insult case
Gukurahundi: Blame govt, not me – says ED
SA: Jazz legend Hugh Masekela dies
Cholera: Angry minister blasts city councils
Mzembi challenges arrest; quits politics
Mudzuri: Amnesty for MDC-T cop murder 3
Mnangagwa: Grace mentally unstable
MORE NEWS
Govt reduces excise duty on fuel
Filthy 5-Star hotels: Economy blamed
MORE BUSINESS
‘Am I African’ explores Zim's race conflict
Gafa’s Epworth concert draws thousands
MORE SHOWBIZ
Billiat might still leave: Sundowns coach
Katsande: Chiefs show championship mentality
MORE SPORTS
Mnangagwa’s ‘New’ Zim merits support
Zhuwao: kleptocracy and EDiots in Davos
MORE OPINION
 
Mnangagwa off to Davos empty handed
Economy: the need for a paradigm shift
MORE COLUMNISTS
 
 

Exiled Mukanya awaits real change for Zimbabwe

02/12/2017 00:00:00
by Associated Press
 
There's nothing to celebrate ... Thomas Mapfumo
 
RELATED STORIES

US: As Zimbabweans celebrated the ouster of dictator Robert Mugabe, they danced on the streets to previously banned protest songs by one of the country's most famous musicians — a man jailed by the country's former white rulers and hounded by the black government that succeeded them.

But Thomas Mapfumo, who watched the euphoria from exile in the US, said he has seen nothing to suggest his country will overcome its long history of repression and political corruption because Mugabe's political party and cronies still run the country.

"I think there's nothing to celebrate about," Mapfumo said this week in an interview with The Associated Press at his small apartment in the college town of Eugene, Oregon where he has lived since 2004. "It's still the old train that we're riding but they've got a different driver now."

When Mugabe resigned on November 21 under military pressure, ending his iron-fisted rule of 37 years, Mapfumo's songs blasted from car speakers to the crowds partying on the streets. For years, his music had been banned from public airwaves and was played in secret by Zimbabweans.

Root cause of the problem

The problem is that Mugabe's party, Zanu-PF, is still in power, Mapfumo said. Former vice president Emmerson Mnangagwa, now the party head, was sworn in as president on November 24. Nicknamed The Crocodile, he is accused of helping direct the slaughter of thousands of people in ethnic massacres in the 1980s.

"The root cause of our problems is Zanu-PF. There are still people who still believe in those bad policies," Mapfumo said, citing in particular the takeover of white-owned farms — many of which went to Mugabe's allies — that led to the collapse of Zimbabwe's agricultural production.

Zimbabweans are electrified about the possibility of Mapfumo returning home to perform with his band, The Blacks Unlimited, for the first time since 2004, when he left the country with band members and relatives.



Advertisement

"I thought we will never see him play here again, but now I am very hopeful he will return home for a show of our lives," said Shupai Muchingami, a fan in Harare, Zimbabwe's capital.

Mapfumo, known as the Lion of Zimbabwe, confirmed to AP that his manager is trying to arrange a gig in the southern African country.

Democracy 

His upbeat music, featuring the traditional mbira thumb piano and an electric guitar tweaked to sound like an mbira, often carried lyrics of rebellion in the Shona language and in English. He called the musical style he invented "chimurenga," which means "struggle" in Shona.

During the guerrilla war against the white racist regime when the country was named Rhodesia, Mapfumo sang lyrics like "Mothers, send your sons to war" in support of the struggle. After Zimbabwe achieved independence, he performed in a 1980 celebration concert that also featured Bob Marley.

But several years later, Mapfumo became disenchanted with the government as Mugabe and his ministers enriched themselves while Zimbabweans became more destitute.

His most politically charged anti-Mugabe songs included "Masoja neMapurisa" ("Soldiers and Police"), "Pidigori waenda" ("The Man is Gone"), "Vanoita sevanokudai" ("They Pretend to Love You") and "Corruption ."

"When I see something wrong I have to point it out," Mapfumo said. "I can't stand by and look when these things are happening to my people. That's not what we fought for. We fought in the struggle because we wanted to be a free nation. We were fighting for democracy, for freedom of speech, freedom of movement."

Zimbabwe, he said, might need a mass revolt to usher in true democracy.

"The country belongs to the people. The soldiers won't do nothing if the people revolt. They will just stand by," Mapfumo said.

'Rise up Zimbabwe' 

Mapfumo, who drives a Dodge minivan in Eugene, still chafes at the government's confiscation of several of his BMWs in Harare years ago, which he labeled as government harassment.

"The reason was because I was singing against the ruling party, the government and the corruption that was going on," he said.

A friend was later told he could collect the cars for Mapfumo, but they were gone when he went to get them.

"They'd been sold by a corrupt policeman," Mapfumo said.

Mapfumo believes Zimbabwe needs young leaders and said he admires Nelson Chamisa of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change party. But Mapfumo ruled out performing in support of him or any other politician.

Mapfumo plans to keep up his criticism in a new album he's working on that includes a song he wrote shortly before Mugabe resigned. He sang part of it during the interview.

"Rise up Zimbabwe, wake up Zimbabwe, open your eyes," Mapfumo sang in a deep voice.

"It's all about fighting against corruption, fighting against injustice, bad rule of law," he said with a smile.


 
Email this to a friend Printable Version Discuss This Story
Share this article:

Digg it

Del.icio.us

Reddit

Newsvine

Nowpublic

Stumbleupon

Face Book

Myspace

Fark

 
 
 
comments powered by Disqus
 
RSS NewsTicker