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Chimurenga Icon Mapfumo Looks Back at Zimbabwe Liberation Days


Zimbabwean music icon Thomas Mukanya Mapfumo came to prominence in the final final phase of the so-called Second Chimurenga war, when music was one of the few outlets for the expression of popular sentiment given the imposition of censorship by Rhodesia's white-minority government facing a black liberation movement.

The conflict gave birth to a new genre of protest music that crystallized in the 1960s after Rhodesia’s Unilateral Declaration of Independence from Great Britain made it a rogue state for most countries except South Africa and colonialist Portugal.

His new style of music was called Chimurenga, after the Shona and Ndebele uprisings of 1893 and 1896, commonly referred to the First Chimurenga.

Despite his liberation credentials, Thomas Mapfumo has had the distinction of seeing his music banned in turn by the governments of Rhodesian Prime Minister Ian Smith and President Robert Mugabe, who has held power since independence in 1980.

Like many other zimbabweans, Mapfumo went into exile in the United States under pressure from the Mugabe government. Reporter Blessing Zulu asked him about the difficulties of composing music amidst the turbulence of the liberation war.

More reports from VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe...

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