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Music: Powerful soundtrack of Zimbabwe’s liberation struggle – The Herald

Marilyn Mutize

Correspondent

The attainment of independence on April 18, 1980, marked a watershed moment in Zimbabwe’s history, not only politically, but culturally as well.

Amidst the jubilation and hope that accompanied the raising of the Zimbabwean flag, there emerged a burgeoning music scene that would play an instrumental role in the nation’s liberation struggle.

Prior to independence, Zimbabwe, then known as Rhodesia, was under the grip of oppressive colonial rule. Black artistes faced stringent censorship and monitoring, stifling their creative expression. However, despite these challenges, musicians such as the late Oliver Mtukudzi, Thomas Mapfumo, Dickson ‘Chinx’ Chingaira, Zex Manatsa, among many others, emerged as bold voices against the injustices of the regime.

Their lyrics became a potent form of resistance, serving to conscientise the masses and galvanise support for the liberation movement. Through subtle metaphors and allegories, they articulated the grievances of the oppressed, urging their fellow Zimbabweans to rise up and reclaim their dignity.

Mtukudzi, revered as a national icon, used his music as a tool for social commentary and activism. Songs like “Dzandimomotera” and “Mutavara” not only highlighted the harsh realities of life under colonial rule, but also instilled a sense of hope and resilience among listeners. Despite facing threats and suppression from the Rhodesian authorities, Mtukudzi remained steadfast in his commitment to speaking the truth.

Similarly, Mapfumo, known as the “Lion of Zimbabwe,” faced persecution for his outspokenness. Brief spells of imprisonment failed to silence him; instead, they fuelled his determination to amplify the voices of the oppressed. Tracks such as “Zimbabwe Yevatema” and “Ndinofarira Zimbabwe” became anthems of resistance, inspiring a generation to fight for freedom.

Women musicians, too, played a pivotal role in the liberation struggle, despite facing unique challenges. Figures like Dorothy Masuka and Stella Chiweshe used their music to challenge the status quo in a male-dominated industry. Their contributions, though often overlooked, were no less significant in shaping the cultural landscape of Zimbabwe.

With the dawn of independence in 1980, Zimbabwe witnessed a cultural renaissance. The music industry experienced unprecedented growth, with new genres emerging and a wave of talented artistes coming to the fore.

Sungura, a genre born out of the post-independence era, captured the zeitgeist of the nation, reflecting the aspirations and struggles of ordinary Zimbabweans.

After the attainment of independence, gospel music, too experienced a revival, with artistes such as Mechanic Manyeruke paving the way for a new generation of talent. Female artistes such as Ivy Kombo, Shingisai Suluma, and Fungisai Zvakavapano-Mashavave emerged as powerful voices of faith and hope, resonating with audiences across the country.

Yet, the legacy of Zimbabwe’s liberation struggle extends far beyond the realm of music. It is a testament to the resilience and determination of a people who refused to be silenced in the face of oppression.

It is a reminder that the struggle for freedom is not won solely on the battlefield, but also through the power of culture and creativity.

As Zimbabwe celebrates its 44th Independence anniversary, it is essential to reflect on the transformative role that music played in shaping the nation’s history. From the clandestine gatherings of freedom fighters to the raucous concerts of post-independence euphoria, music has been a constant companion on Zimbabwe’s journey towards freedom and self-determination.

In a world where the shadows of tyranny and injustice loom large, casting doubt on the very fabric of society, the enduring lessons gleaned from Zimbabwe’s arduous liberation struggle stand as beacons of guidance and inspiration. Despite the passage of time, the echoes of resilience, unity, and unwavering determination showcased during that tumultuous era resonate profoundly in the present day. It is a testament to the indomitable human spirit and its capacity to triumph over adversity.

Music, with its unparalleled ability to transcend linguistic, cultural, and ideological barriers, emerges as a potent force in this narrative of resilience. It serves as a timeless testimony to the universal language of humanity, capable of touching hearts, stirring souls, and fostering solidarity in the face of oppression. Through the haunting melodies of struggle, the defiant rhythms of resistance, and the anthems of liberation, music becomes not merely a form of expression but a profound reflection of the collective yearning for justice and freedom.

As we pay tribute to the artistes and activists who paved the way for Zimbabwe’s independence, let us also reaffirm our commitment to upholding the values of freedom, equality, and justice. May their songs continue to inspire and embolden future generations to stand up and speak out against oppression in all its forms.

In the poignant words of the late Mtukudzi, “Music is the weapon of the future”. These words encapsulate the profound impact that music has wielded throughout history, transcending mere entertainment to become a potent force for social change and liberation.

As we navigate the complexities of our world, let us heed Mtukudzi’s wisdom and recognise the transformative power of music. It has the ability to transcend barriers, unite disparate voices, and ignite flames of hope even in the darkest of times.

Let us, therefore, embrace music as not only a source of solace and inspiration but also as a tool for fostering unity, amplifying the voices of the marginalised, and catalysing meaningful societal transformation.

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Breaking news – Chronicle

Blitzkrieg pirates of books, music


Stephen Mpofu

THERE is indisputable power in joint operations against any form of legal violations in any and all sectors of a country’s economy and so operations between the police on one hand and those in the book and music industries on the other cannot fail to blitzkrieg once and for all those engaged in rampant pirating of books and music in our country.

In these columns last Saturday, Musaemura Zimunya, a veteran writer, spoke of rampant piracy in the music and book sectors which deprived those legally engaged in those sectors their due monetary benefits.

In support of Zimunya’s statement, Assistant Police Commissioner Paul Nyathi yesterday stressed the need for constant joint operations between the police, the Zimbabwe Music Rights Association (Zimura), writers, publishers, colleges and other educational institutions in order to drive pirates into the shade.

He mentioned that the police and Zimura had previously conducted joint operations against pirates to nip their illegal activities in the bud.

Pirates deprive authors and musicians and all those others engaged in the book and music value chains of what is due to them while the saboteurs go scot-free all the while pushing bellies swollen with what is not rightly due to them.

Workers at some book publishing houses say that pirates photocopy popular books, particularly school textbooks, which they also sell on the streets and for much less than what the publications fetch at bookshops.

Book publishers might also wish to engage, through our diplomatic missions, particularly in the West, to ascertain that books by Zimbabwean authors being sold in the diaspora are distributed or published there under agreement with their Zimbabwean publishers or authors as a safeguard against piracy by Zimbabwean diasporans.

A Zimbabwean male working in Britain is for instance known to have self-published and promoted a book by a relative back home as his own and then built a secondary school back in his home district, all the while claiming when in contact with relatives of the real author of the original book that the school project was sponsored by a British university where he works.

It boggles the mind, or does it not, that a national university could pump out funds for the construction of an educational institution in a country under economic sanctions by its country?

The same man deliberately avoids the book author when on visits home from the diaspora, which raises the question why the avoidance.

Or do other Zimbabwean diasporans not speak ill of their native country to curry favour with their hosts who are opponents of our Government for introducing land reform at independence to reunite our people with the land that foreign colonial settlers had usurped while driving blacks into backyards of their motherland?

Unmitigated patriotism by Zimbabweans living and working abroad will help reverse any hostility by their host governments towards their/our native, beloved country inhabited by people created by God in His image and likeness as He did the diasporan natives. 

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Music, the ‘Liberation Doctrine’ in Zimbabwe’s war – Chronicle

Stanford Chiwanga, [email protected] 

DURING Zimbabwe’s war of independence, music morphed from a source of entertainment into a potent weapon. Songs delivered powerful messages of political and social protest through a blend of popular styles like Chimurenga music, a genre known for its revolutionary energy.

Scholars like Professor Rangarirayi Zindi argue that music “became a form of liberation doctrine.” Musicians like Thomas Mapfumo, Solomon Skuza, the Zanla Choir, Zipra Choir, the original Light Machine Gun Choir (LMG), Impi Yesiko and Dickson “Chinx” Chingaira emerged as crucial figures. They composed and performed songs that critiqued the Rhodesian regime, exposing its brutality and discriminatory policies.

The LMG Choir played a significant role in the liberation of Zimbabwe. It was established by the late Vice-President Dr Joshua Nkomo to motivate freedom fighters during the protracted war of liberation. The choir’s music, particularly the song Kubuhlungu Emoyeni (There is pain in my heart), evoked the emotions of the liberation struggle and was used to boost the morale of combatants.

The LMG Choir became synonymous with the heroes’ celebrations in Zimbabwe and their songs were often played during significant national events, such as the burial of national heroes at the National Heroes’ Acre or during the commemoration of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces Day and Heroes’ Day. The songs not only motivated the fighters during the struggle but also spoke to the plight of some ex-combatants after the war, reflecting on the challenges they faced in adjusting to life post-liberation.

The choir’s contributions were so impactful that they were made the official Zipra Choir in Zambia in 1978, and their music continued to encourage revolutionaries during the war. 

Thomas Mapfumo

Mapfumo’s songs became instant hits and landed him in trouble with the authorities. Tracks like Hokoyo, Nyoka Musango and Tumira Vana Kuhondo became anthems. Mapfumo’s music also anchored the inspiration of ancestral spirits like Nehanda, Kaguvi and veteran nationalists like Herbert Chitepo, weaving their legacy into the fight for freedom.

Another iconic musician, Oliver Mtukudzi, used his music as a tool for social commentary and activism. Songs like Dzandimomotera highlighted the harsh realities of life under colonial rule, like forced labour and poor living conditions. Yet, they also instilled hope and resilience among listeners. Despite threats and suppression, Mtukudzi remained steadfast in speaking the truth through his music.

Songs like Hayo Makomo and Moyo Wangu acknowledged the hardships and losses faced by guerrillas operating in the harsh bush terrain. Yet, they also celebrated the fighters’ unwavering pursuit of freedom and their enduring spirit.

Sung in Shona, Ndebele, and other local languages, these songs transcended tribal lines. As highlighted by Bindura University of Science Education researchers (Communicating Through Music: An Analysis of Selected Songs from the Second Chimurenga The Zimbabwean Liberation War), music fostered a sense of shared purpose among the diverse group of fighters, uniting them under a common banner of liberation.

Music served as a powerful rallying point. Songs with revolutionary messages were disseminated throughout the country, often exceeding language barriers and uniting the people in their fight for freedom. Scholars like Jacqueline Musiwa and Christopher Ndlovu highlight how music transcended tribal lines and fostered a sense of national belonging. Songs like Mapfumo’s powerful Tumira Vana Kuhondo (Send the Children to War) were rallying cries, urging young people to join the fight for liberation.

Dorothy Masuka

According to Terence Ranger, musicians played a pivotal role in keeping the cultural traditions alive during a time when the colonial regime attempted to suppress them. By incorporating aspects of traditional rhythms and instruments like the mbira (thumb piano) and hosho (gourd shakers) into their liberation songs, they ensured the continuation of cultural heritage while linking it to the struggle for independence.

Music provided a platform for expressing the frustrations and injustices faced by the people under colonial rule. Lyrical themes often addressed issues of land dispossession, racial discrimination and the brutality of the regime. Scholars like Sabelo Gatsheni-Ndlovu underline how music became a channel for defiance and resistance against the colonial order. Liberation songs offered a voice to the voiceless and a platform to challenge the status quo.

Women musicians also played a pivotal role in the liberation struggle, defying expectations in a male-dominated industry. Figures like Dorothy Masuka and Stella Chiweshe challenged the status quo with their powerful voices. Their contributions, though often overlooked, significantly shaped the cultural landscape of Zimbabwe and inspired future generations of female musicians.

Liberation songs resonated deeply during night gatherings called pungwes. 

Here, fighters would sing, dance and share stories, their spirits bolstered by the music and the sense of community. The impact wasn’t limited to the fighters. Songs like Mtukudzi’s Gunguwo (The Crow), with its subtle yet powerful critique of the Rhodesian regime, spread dissent and defiance among the general population, subtly encouraging resistance.

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Packed weekend for revellers – The Herald

Valerie Mpundu  and Rumbidzai Mushonga

The entertainment scene this weekend will be packed with several activities that are expected to take place across the country and beyond our borders.

While Harare has often been the citadel of entertainment, there has been a shift in activities, as more local artistes now ply their trade before international audiences.

‘Game changer’

It will be a chant festival tomorrow when some of the country’s top chanters descend on the Mbare Netball Complex to serenade Zimdancehall lovers.

Kicking off at 4pm, the event dubbed the “Game Changer” will feature Seh Calaz, Dadza D, Hwindi President, Blot, Kinnah, Silent Killer, Buyaka, Khonangale, Jahnoz, Mbida D, Libho and many more.

On decks will be the Chillspot family, Godfather Templeman, Etherton Beenie, and DJ Fydale on rotation. Fans are expected to party the night away.

‘Chillspot family fun day’

Mashwede Village will tomorrow host Levels, Rhibhe and Fantan during the Chillspot family fun day, which is expected to bring father, mothers and their children together.  Gone are the days when weekend fun was only meant for men. Chillspot has since introduced a time for mothers and their children to join in the fun.

‘Back to the old school’

It would be Legends Night on Sunday when Jose Sax Simple Impact hosts the Zimbabwean Music Legends at 7Arts in Avondale, Harare.

It will be an unforgettable evening of music, evoking memories and remembering the good old days in song and dance.

Cover songs from the late Dr Oliver Mtukudzi, System Tazvida, Marshall Munhumumwe, Leonard Dembo and many others will take music lovers down memory lane.

Come Sunday, music fans should put on their dancing shoes and prepare to be swept off their feet by old school rhythms.

‘Doek and Slay’

Alex Sports Club is the place to be on Sunday for ladies when Jah Prayzah and Feli Nandi hold a joint show.

Apart from music and dance, ladies will also have an opportunity to catch up on the latest news in town in between drinks and food.

Strictly for the elegant and sophisticated ladies, it will be a day to relax, hang out over drinks, and network. DJs who will be on rotation will complement the slay code of floral prints, doeks and shades.

‘Family show with Sungura King’

On Sunday, sungura king Alick Macheso will serenade family and friends when he gets on stage at the Steak House in Waterfalls.

The show kicks off at 2pm.

In the last few weeks, Macheso has been conducting back-to-back shows, thrilling and exciting families.

This weekend he is set to strum his bass guitar to his horde of fans in a show not to be missed.

‘Lorraine Guyo dates Kwekwe’

Socialite Lorraine Guyo will be part of an extraordinary “Ladies High Tea” event tomorrow at Hazeldene in Kwekwe.

Lorraine Guyo

The event promises to elevate spirits and tantalise taste buds, and Lorraine is expected to mix and mingle with the guests during the event.

Attendees are encouraged to dress in delightful pastel attire and look forward to sipping a range of teas, including Earl Grey and chamomile, while enjoying fluffy soft scones in the company of friends.

‘Cloris Machuwaire Album launch’

Cloris Machuwaire will tomorrow launch her album titled “Handina Kudhakwa” at Coldfields in Chipinge.

It will be a musical extravaganza that promises to be the highlight of Manicaland this weekend. Several artistes, among them Dorcas Moyo, Mark Ngwazi, and Blessing Shumba are expected to serenade music lovers.

Don’t miss out as Cloris takes the stage with her soul-stirring tunes.

‘Zimfest Australian Tour’

This weekend Zimbabweans in Australia will have a lot to smile about when some of the country’s top musicians perform in the country’s cities.

Tonight Andy Muridzo, Mbeu, Mathias Mhere, Baba Harare, Silent Nqo, and Voltz JT will enthral Diasporans through music and dance.

Dubbed the Zimfest Australian Tour, the show will be held in Brisbane at The Zoo in Queensland.

‘Tusona fever hits the US’

Mokoomba jets into the United States to embark on a month-long tour to promote their album “Tusona: Tracings in the Sand.”

Their first live performance will be today at Williams College, Massachusettes in the Chapin Hall from 7.30pm.

The Victoria Falls-based outfit will give music lovers authentic sounds from Zimbabwe, representing their hometown and Africa at large.

‘Tour Continues in series mode’

Tomorrow music lovers in Australia will be served yet another portion of good music in Sydney, New South at Liberty Hall.

It will be one of the greatest weekends for Zimbabweans based abroad as their memories will be evoked with lyrical prowess from a star-studded collection.

Entertainment will be provided by Mathias Mhere, Mbeu, Andy Muridzo, the guitar sangoma Silent Nqo, Baba Harare, and Voltz JT.

It will be a beautiful Saturday to reconnect and sample some good steak and drinks with families and friends.

 ‘The Sheriff is in the UK’

It is going down in Northampton UK tomorrow when Poptain graces the stage at Lounge Bar from 10:30pm.

If you are in the UK, put on your dancing shoes and prepare to be blown off as the “Pfau-pfau” hit-maker breaks into song and dance.

Sampling tracks from his new EP, the musician, who is known for his unique choreography, is set to thrill the “yardboy boy nation”  with his dance routines.

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