CHIMURENGA music maestro Thomas “Mukanya” Mapfumo appears to have pulled a political punch if the scenes and actions by the crowd witnessed at his Homecoming Bira concert after a lengthy spell in exile on Saturday at Glamis Arena, Harare are anything to go by.
BY WINSTONE ANTONIO
Never one to hold back on an opinion, the Lion of Zimbabwe, as Mukanya is known to his legion of fans, was performing in the country after 14 years in exile in the US and seems to have touched off a storm with a new satirical song that urges citizens to “take the plunge” barring the consequences.
The song, Chauya Chauya (come what may) which Mukanya’s camp last week claimed it had leaked to the public before its scheduled official release as part of songs off his forthcoming album, left show-goers chanting opposition MDC-T slogans and waving the open palm symbol.
Part of the song’s lyrics speak to Zimbabwe’s dire political situation and the struggle for democracy.
“….Chauya Chauya MuZimbabwe, Kwemakore mangani tichisuffer, sarura wako waunoda, hondo iyo hondo iyo, Chauya chauya vakomana, Nhamo iyo Nhamo iyo….(whatever comes, Zimbabwe how long should we suffer. Elect your choice, this is war, whatever comes, (there) is suffering and more suffering)”.
Mapfumo fled Zimbabwe at the turn of the millennium after reports emerged that then President Robert Mugabe’s goons were after him for his political messages. Mapfumo had always released songs that rubbed the State the wrong way and his chart-stopping late 80s song Corruption was banned by authorities, while Mamvemve and Masoja neMapurisa highlighted Mugabe and the security services excesses.
Ironically, Mugabe was to be forced out of power after a military intervention last November that paved the way for President Emmerson Mnangagwa to the throne in dramatic fashion.
When Mukanya performed Chauya Chauya thousands of people who attended the concert seemed to validate its lyrics as some could be seen raising their open hand palm chanting the opposition MDC-T party’s slogan which includes the, Chisa Mbama Chisa or Tshisa Mpama Tshisa as they danced to the song.
Mapfumo, a human rights defender in his own right, however claims he will not vote in the coming elections but urged the youth to take charge of their future in comments that analysts said were an endorsement of MDC-T leader Nelson Chamisa’s candidature.
Reputed as one of Zimbabwe’s finest musicians, the 72-year-old Mukanya has over the years churned out music that resonated with his countrymen’s political woes at a time when pointing an accusing finger at the government was almost regarded as treasonous.
Since the beginning of his career in the 1960s, Mukanya was renowned for speaking truth to power, something he carried into independent Zimbabwe, placing him on a collision course with the authorities.
Mapfumo, who was briefly detained by Ian Smith’s Rhodesian regime for his songs including Tumirai vana Mapfumo said Zimbabwe needed “real change” following Mugabe’s ouster.
“It seems there is a little change. You understand where I am coming from. Because, if it was still the old system, I would not be here. I was not going to be here if the old man (Mugabe) was still in power,” he said.
“I am glad that there is a little change, but we need a real change in this country.”