LEGEND Chimurenga music icon Thomas “Mukanya” Mapfumo says he is pondering donating his latest offering Dangerzone in protest against piracy.
BY GARIKAI TUNHIRA
Mukanya made the revelations on Wednesday saying piracy was biting hard on his new album and was also affecting his band members.
Below is the full statement the celebrated musician released:
My name is Thomas Mapfumo and I am a celebrated musician from Zimbabwe. A week ago, my latest album, Dangerzone, was released after some years of hard work.
Besides a profit motive, I wanted to make sure that my loyal and supportive chimurenga fans across the world would get the best from me.
A week later, I stand here in with a low-spirited face after experiencing unmeasured disappointment as I gather the news that my own work product, Dangerzone, and various other old music albums have been copied by some music pirates in Zimbabwe for sale on the black market.
It is quite a disturbing development in that before I have even taken stock of my latest album sales, some cunning pirates who have friends in political high offices have hijacked my project to unlawfully collect and enjoy my revenue on my behalf.
To make matters worse, such piracy is in broad day light on the streets of Zimbabwe and the music is sold at below the officially suggested retail price.
Such a well-orchestrated racket of piracy in Harare has affected me and my band members in a shocking way. We were expecting our fans to get value for their money. We were expecting to raise the Chimurenga music bar to the next level. We were also expecting to reap some considerable revenue in exchange for the time and resources spent in preparation of the project.
Sadly, this is what happens when a country turns into a lawless state. This piracy activity has become a problem for many of our Zimbabwean artists and even some international artists have fallen victim to this spiteful act of theft as movies and music are illegally reproduced and wantonly sold on the black market at incredibly low prices.
In a corruption-riddled society where even the very trusted authorities propel such illegal activity, effort s to stop acts of piracy in Zimbabwe have now become a wild goose chase.
It is shocking in that those supposed to uphold the laws through political appointments are the ones working underground to promote piracy for private gain.
Given the excessive power, absence of consequence and lack of co-operation among government authorities, any attempt to fight or protest against such piracy could be just like trying to fight the weather.
This is the very reason Zimbabwe no longer has any guaranteed right to individual private property rights.
Many will remember quite well how, after independence, musicians were protected so much through patent and copyright laws. The responsible Minister of Education, Arts and Culture in conjunction with the National Arts Council at the time jealously protected musicians.
A few decades later, musicians are now on their own as they face a vicious pride of marauding pirates. Despite concerted efforts and appeals to government authorities to stop music piracy, nothing has been done.
I have been robbed openly of my right to benefit from my music. Pirates have taken over my music and I have been left out in the cold together with my music band members and families.
While government authorities are fully aware of the problem, not so much proven action has been done to stop the illegal activity since it is openly and brazenly conducted on the streets and at times enabled through government hands.
Police look the other way because they have not been instructed to act or are supposedly should be passive since, according to reports some top ruling party officials are involved in the scandal.
No one is accountable and musicians, their group members and families continue to suffer through loss of revenue. A musician takes time to write, sing, practice and produce music.
Sadly, when there is no accountability or the rule of law is challenged, a pirate with some high political connections simply reproduces any arts work for resale on the street at far less than the real price.
At times the pirate is working for hidden high political figures who form the apex of the piracy syndicate.
Such a helpless situation drains the musician’s energy and discourages production of entertainment due to continued loss of revenue and lack of ethics.
In light of such a hopeless situation, I felt it mandatory in my personal capacity to send out a political statement.
Given the continued frustrations on the Zimbabwean markets, I am seriously considering either donating my Dangerzone album music to my fans for free any moment from now.
With such a defeated purpose in light of heavy suppression of the artist’s dream, I believe that the authorities may as well collect the profits openly as there is nothing to hide anymore from such corruption that is now written on the Zimbabwean sky.
The world should know the truth. An absence of the rule of law has caused much suffering to the Zimbabwean artist and the public at large. Just a few top politicians now enjoy life in Zimbabwe as the majority continues to suffer.
Despite the frustrating situation about piracy and government-induced mass suffering for the people in Zimbabwe, I am still thankful to my Chimurenga music fans for their loyalty and support.
It simply is an unfortunate chapter in Zimbabwean history that has seen some wield dangerous power to abuse the weak, the poor and the defenseless.
There is no one to turn to at the moment since the situation is that of survival of the fittest which remains out of control.