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This chapter opens the Rhodesia portion of the book. It describes the geography of this landlocked, southern African country and briefly surveys what is known of its precolonial history. The arrival of Cecil Rhodes in the late nineteenth century, and the establishment of Rhodesia, set the stage for Thomas Mapfumo’s birth in 1945. The chapter evokes the boy’s rural life on the “communal lands” in Rhodesia—farming, tending cattle, and coming to love traditional music—notably mbira. Mapfumo spent his first ten years in Marondera with his maternal grandparents, because his biological father could not pay the required dowry and so never...

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