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.
Snakes in the Forest
This chapter opens the Zimbabwe portion of the book. Amid the messy aftermath of a bloody war, Mapfumo works to rebuild his band and his reputation. He produces songs of celebration, laced with stern warnings to those who would disrupt the progress of the new nation. The chapter delves into the inherent tensions between Zimbabwe’s two major ethnic groups, the Shona and the Ndebele. It describes Mugabe’s brutal campaign against the Ndebele in the early 1980s. The author emphasizes the way this violence is kept largely out of the public eye, and how there is little effort during these pivotal years to openly heal the psychic wounds of a long and bitter war. Mapfumo again emerges as the most popular singer in the country, but now amid a rising mood of escapism. The chapter also describes Mapfumo’s first two tours in Europe, opening a new phase in his career.