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.
The Land of the Horses
The chapter opens with a lengthy list of deaths of characters from earlier parts of the book—many from illness, some from violence, few of them natural. Vena and Thomas separate in Eugene, she and the kids in one house, Thomas and some band members in another. Thomas shaves off his signature dreadlocks, triggering false speculation that he too is dying. As Al Green’s financial resources wane, people close to Mapfumo encourage him to stop singing politics and make peace with the Mugabe regime, which is now harassing him with legal threats. Police have confiscated four BMWs from Mapfumo’s home in Harare, claiming they were illegally purchased. Though his musical output has now slowed, Mapfumo continues to produce new work, notably the album Rise Up, released on Peter Gabriel’s RealWorld records and coordinated with an appearance at the 2006 Live 8: Africa Calling concert in the United Kingdom.