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.
Bishop and Pawn
This chapter documents Mapfumo’s 1979 detention near the end of the liberation war. It describes the complexities of a white-owned and run recording company, Gramma Records, producing music that is effectively fuelling insurrection. Once government minders clearly understand the impact of Mapfumo’s songs, they begin to censor them, and eventually detain the artist. Mapfumo is released, but on condition that he perform at a rally for Bishop Abel Muzorewa. Muzorewa is portrayed here as a once-credible nationalist who has, at this point, entered into an accord with the white regime. The so-called Internal Settlement is doomed to fail, and although Mapfumo does not support it, he accepts the deal, badly damaging his reputation, particularly within the ranks of ZANU, which is emerging as the dominant force in the war, the negotiations to end it, and the political future of Zimbabwe.