Thursday November 23, 2017

'Fight against injustice': Thomas Mapfumo's message to Zimbabwe

(Getty Images)

Listen 2:41

It's a party that was 37 years in the making. People in Zimbabwe's capital city Harare literally sang in the streets after Robert Mugabe resigned. They danced on the hoods of their cars while others waved around drinks and hugged their neighbours. Thousands of kilometres away, in Oregon, Thomas Mapfumo's been watching videos of these celebrations online. 

Mapfumo is one of Zimbabwe's most popular and political musicians, an icon known as the Lion of Zimbabwe. Because of that, he's been exiled since 2004. One of our producers reached Mapfumo on the phone yesterday and he says that he's happy that Mugabe finally seems to be leaving power. But, he's also cautious. Mapfumo remembers when Zimbabwe was still Rhodesia and the legacy of its past as a British colony. He remembers fighting for liberation, singing for independence from the white Rhodesian goverment. 

Eventually, he turned his protest songs into a brand new style of music, a genre called "chimurenga." Then, in 1980, power shifted. Robert Mugabe took office and Mapfumo realized the new government was not the change he wanted. So, he went after Mugabe in his songs. 

Today on the show, Mapfumo wanted to share an important message, partly for his fans back in Zimbabwe but also for everyone in his adopted country, the United States. 

— Produced by Vanessa Greco