Lion Songs: Thomas Mapfumo and the Music That Made Zimbabwe
Banning Eyre is a freelance writer and guitarist and the senior editor and producer of the public radio program Afropop Worldwide. He is the author of In Griot Time: An American Guitarist in Mali, Playing With Fire: Fear and Self-Censorship in Zimbabwean Music, and Guitar Atlas: Africa, and the coauthor of AFROPOP! An Illustrated Guide to Contemporary African Music. Eyre is a contributor to National Public Radio's All Things Considered, and his writing has been published in Billboard, Guitar Player, Salon.com, the Boston Phoenix, CMJ, Option, Folk Roots, Global Rhythm, and other publications. He has also performed and recorded with Thomas Mapfumo.
When the Spirit Comes
This chapter departs from the Mapfumo story to explore the world of mbira music and musicians, notably the life and music of Ephat Mujuru. A number of players of this traditional, hand-forged lamellophone describe how they became players. Accompanied by Mujuru, the author observes a bira ceremony, at which the instrument is used to attract the spirits of ancestors to possess a spirit medium. This context is contrasted with the secular use of mbira in Mapfumo’s music. The chapter concludes with a focus on how both sides of Zimbabwe’s liberation struggle tried to manipulate influential spirit mediums to their own advantage, ultimately with tragic consequences for the Mujuru family.