In this very special podcast we speak with Banning Eyre and Thomas Mapfumo. Eyre’s critically acclaimed biography Lion Songs: Thomas Mapfumo and the Music That Made Zimbabwe has recently hit shelves and Banning takes us through the companion CD, providing a deep musical education of this towering figure. Later we’ll hear an interview I recorded with Thomas Mapfumo in Brooklyn in 2011.
This episode will broadacast on WKCR 89.9 FM-NY 11pm December 6, 2016 and stream at www.wkcr.org.
Thomas Mapfumo, the Lion of Zimbabwe, stands beside Fela Kuti, Youssou N’Dour and Franco as one of Africa’s greatest and most consequential composer/bandleaders. For over 40 years, he has merged ancient African traditions—especially that of the sacred, metal-pronged Shona mbira—into the currents of international music, from rock to reggae to rap. Mapfumo’s artfully barbed lyrics have targeted the racist regime of Ian Smith and the corrupt one of Robert Mugabe with equal resolve and courage. That’s the essence of chimurenga—the music of struggle: past, present and future.
Africa Meets India: Kevin Nathaniel (Mbira) Eric Fraser (Bansuri)
Naren Budhkar (tabla) Salieu Suso (kora) Giancarlo Luiggi (Hosho) and Indrajit Roy-Chowdhury (Sitar) performed from 7-8 pm for the 24 hour, Ragas Live Festival 2014.
Cosmas Magya is a master of the Mbira ( a type of thumb piano) from the Shona tribe in Zimbabwe. Here he performs and explains the way the instrument is used in ceremonies to contact ancestors. We’ll also hear a track he recorded with another powerful Mbira player and vocalist Beauler Dyoko.
Thomas Mapfumo, of Zimbabwe, is a revolutionary musician in every sense of the word. Musically, his band was one of the first to experiment with combining the mbira (thumb piano) and electric guitars and he was the first to put his own lyrics to traditional Shona melodies. Politically, these songs became the anthems of the freedom fighters during White minority rule.
When the revolution succeeded and Rhodesia became Zimbabwe, he continued to be a gadfly. He questioned the integrity of Robert Mugabe and the current government. He now lives in exile and while immensely popular his music is banned in the country where he is most beloved.