Fighting the war with the mic

By Colette Musanyera

They might not have showed up at the battlefield holding guns, but local musicians such as Tineyi Chikupo, Thomas Mapfumo, Oliver Mtukudzi and Zexie Manatsa fought through their music encouraging the masses to continue with the struggle.

With the group called Acid Band formed in 1976, legendary musician Thomas Mapfumo’s compositions like Hokoyo and Gwindingwi rine Shumba challenged the colonial regime leading to his detention.

After his release he continued his fight for freedom through music, fronting yet a new band, the Blacks Unlimited (formed in 1978), which remained a standard-bearer of Chimurenga music.

By the 1970s Mapfumo had dubbed his music chimurenga and it had also become a vibrant symbol of black cultural solidarity. His music became very popular among blacks due to its political innuendos. As his music grew in popularity, the Rhodesian government recognised the music as a serious threat to its authority. Much of Chimurenga music was censored, if not banned, and Mapfumo was imprisoned for several months, with his song hokoyo banned on radio by white settlers who controlled it,said

Other artists, most notably the late superstar Oliver Mtukudzi, also penned songs with pro-liberation innuendos.

Oliver Mtukudzi’s songs like ndiri bofu, ndipeiwo zano were Chimurenga songs done in a satirical way. Blacks understood the messages which inspired them to join the struggle,added Zindi.

Not to be outdone is a pioneer of Jiti music and a regular at Mushandirapamwe Hotel in Highfield, Tineyi Chikupo, whose career started at the peak of the liberation struggle.

He fought through his revolutionary songs which include kapfumo kandibaya, mhuka ine mavara and sirivhiya hande kumagobo.

Sirivhiya hande kumagobo was a call for young boys and girls to cross into Mozambique or Zambia for military training.

Sirivhiya is not a love song. It was a song to encourage young boys and girls to join the struggle. The songs managed to inspire the youths who then crossed to Zambia or Mozambique to receive military training after which they came back to fight the white imperialists,he noted.

Just like his contemporaries Zexie Manatsa also released music that championed the war for independence and fought through the mic with songs like musango mune hangaiwa, nyoka yendara, madzangaradzimu and Mudzimu ndiringe.