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Thomas Mapfumo & The Blacks Unlimited – Shumba (1981)

September 2, 2016 Leave a comment

This is a staggering record – relentless cyclical guitar and bass, beautiful intertwining melodies and Mapfumo on top form with his socially conscious lyrics.

Thomas Mapfumo is widely regarded as Zimbabwe’s greatest and best known artist. He invented and popularized Chimurenga music – literally “struggle” in Shona – which was often overtly political. In addition to his modern incarnation of traditional music, his lyrics were sung in Shona. In the late 1970s singing in Shona instead of English was a political statement in and of itself. In Mapfumo’s case, it was specifically critical of the white ruling class of Rhodesia. The government, underestimating his popularity, eventually banned his records and imprisoned Mapfumo without charges in 1979. After a series of large protests demanding his release, he was set free three months later.

Though he initially celebrated the independence of Zimbabwe in 1980, he became increasingly disillusioned with the regime of Robert Mugabe.

Shumba (or Lion) was a particularly popular song during the fight for liberation and is a cautionary tale warning of spies in the midst …

Do not talk of secret issues or give information in public

Informers are everywhere.

A perfect record

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