African Music Encyclopedia

 

Thomas Mapfumo

 

photo of Thomas Mapfumo

Thomas Mapfumo, born in Marondera, Zimbabwe in 1945 is also sometimes called the Lion of Zimbabwe. He is responsible for blending traditional Shona mbira music with western instruments and a political message full of innuendo and traditional proverbs. He established the musical style, chimurenga (the Shona word for struggle).

In the 1970s Zimbabwe's people fought a war of independence againt their white Rhodesian rulers. Out of that grew chimurenga which is based on the Shona majority's chiming, cyclical rhythms, patterns and melodies of the mbira resulting in a hypnotric almost trance-like music. Mapfumo took that traditional music and added electric guitars, horns, and a drum kit. With his electronic interpretations of traditional mbira music he became a huge star in Zimbabwe. Being that some of his lyrics addressed the struggle for independence the white Rhodesian government felt threatened by his popularity, As a result, in 1977, Mapfumo was detained in prison for 90 days because of his song Hokoya (Watch Out). He and his band, The Blacks Unlimited now tour widely. Don't miss them!

photo of Thomas Mapfumo

Mapfumo Discography
Try another Thomas Mapfumo and the Blacks Unlimited Home Page.


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