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Thomas Mapfumo explains why he fled Zimbabwe

Thomas “Mukanya” Mapfumo
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DECORATED Chimurenga music proponent, Dr Thomas “Mukanya” Mapfumo says he has no intentions of dying in a foreign land and his visit is the beginning of a solid reconnection with his motherland.

The veteran musician touched down at Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport last week on Independence Day, following a 14-year hiatus.

Dr Mapfumo is slated to perform at the Glamis Arena on April 28 at a homecoming gig dubbed “Welcome Back-Big Bira”.

The man, also known as the Lion of Zimbabwe, last performed in the country in 2004.

Speaking in an exclusive interview with The Sunday Mail Society last week, Mukanya said his love for Zimbabwe is unquestionable.

He added that his early arrival for the gig is a clear message to all.

“It is not going to be the same again. I will be coming back every now and then to spend time with my relatives, friends and fellow countrymen,” declared Mukanya.

“I cannot completely relocate at the moment because I have running projects in the United States, I need to see them through but I’m as good as back home. Hapana anoda kugara kana kufira kunyika kusiri kwake (No one wants to stay or die in foreign land).”

Mukanya relocated to the United States of America at the turn of the millennium.

He came back some three or so years later and held a sold out show at Boka Tobacco Auction Floors.

He would sometimes visit during the festive season, before abruptly stopping in 2004. He never made the journey back home again, even after playing in neighbouring countries like Botswana, South Africa and Mozambique.

Eyebrows were raised when Mapfumo’s mother passed away in 2008 and he failed to pitch up for the funeral, burial or memorial service. He did the same for his other close relatives that passed on during the period in question.

The general sentiment had been that Mapfumo would not come back into the country as he feared for his life because of the politically charged messages in his music.

Some suggested that he faced arrest for allegedly buying stolen luxury vehicles.

However, Mukanya stated that his failure to come back home was strictly political.

“This is home and I have a strong desire to be in my country, visiting any other nation. There is no other place that I can call home other than Zimbabwe, kunze uko tiri vashanyi (we are just visitors abroad). It was never my wish to stay that long abroad but circumstances then (political) forced me. I came here days before the show and that should tell you a lot. I need to catch-up.”

“I have been following developments in the country and it is my hope that we continue moving in a positive direction. The previous situation was bad. Every Zimbabwean wants the country to develop and tinofanirwa kubatana kuti zviitike (we must unite to achieve that) and also fight corruption.”

Dr Mukanya will be in the country until April 30.

He is expected to deal with a number of issues pertaining to his personal and professional life in the short space of time. The programme also includes meeting top Government officials.

“I have at least 10 solid days here (Zimbabwe) but the time will not be enough for me to deal with a number of issues. Nguva yareba tisipo (I haven’t been around for too long). I would have loved to do some collaborations before I return to America but I’m also working on a new project that is consuming much of my time.

“However, there is Suluman Chimbetu, son to the late Simon Chimbetu, who was a good friend of mine who I’m sure I’m going to meet. I also want to see how Winky D does his things,” said Dr Mapfumo.

Apart from his forthcoming album, Mukanya also revealed that he has done collaborations with Rati Dangarembwa, in America.

According to the musician, the project is due for release anytime from now.

With regards to his April 28 Glamis Arena-homecoming Big Bira, Mukanya said the event will bridge the gap that exists between his young and old generation fans.

“There are youngsters that have never seen me live in action and I want them to attend the gig so that they get to understand and appreciate what it is that made us popular. At the same time I’m glad I have met some people vandakasiya dziri pwere asi vatove varume vakuru (people I left as youngsters but are now grown-ups).

“If the younger generation comes they will be able to appreciate our music.

‘‘We should promote our culture through music and that is the only way people will be able to know about Zimbabwe. Work hard and promote your brand outside so that you get to become Zimbabwe’s own Jay-Z.” sunday mail