Revered Zimbabwe musician and activist to visit Centre
RELEASED: November 1, 2007
DANVILLE, KY—"The Lion of Zimbabwe," as Thomas Mapfumo is sometimes called, has spent decades crafting his music and exerting political influence in his troubled native Zimbabwe. In his efforts to preserve his native culture and give his countrymen a voice, he created a style of music called Chimurenga, meaning "struggle" in the native Zimbabwean language of Shona. Chimurenga music is sung in Shona and utilizes the sacred mbira instrument, a keyed instrument traditional to the Shona people.
Mapfumo's music is considered a significant factor in the Zimbabwe revolution of the 1960s and 70s. Then known as the Republic of Rhodesia, the country was ruled by a white minority. In 1980, after years of guerilla fighting, the Republic of Zimbabwe declared its independence.
Since that time, however, the situation has grown even more desperate. Most analysts largely attribute this to the corrupt administration of Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe. Zimbabwe suffers from an 85 percent unemployment rate, exorbitant inflation rates and the lowest life expectancy in the world. HIV and AIDS, famine, economic collapse and deteriorating human rights continue to threaten Mapfumo’s homeland.
Mapfumo was one of the first to speak out against the Mugabe administration in the 1980s, and his music continues to be a significant political influence in the region. In 1988, his song "Corruption" was banned by Mugabe’s government.
Mapfumo himself emigrated to the United States in 2000 for the well-being of his family, but he returns to Zimbabwe regularly. When asked if he ever feared for his physical safety, Mapfumo said, "No, I have too much support out there, especially in Zimbabwe. I have stood with the people through the hard times, and I still do. Until that country is really free, I will not stop singing about politics there."
Mapfumo will perform in Newlin Hall on campus on Monday, Nov. 5, at 8 p.m. For ticket information contact Centre's Norton Center for the Arts at (859) 236-4692.
In addition, Mapfumo will present two lectures on Tuesday, Nov. 6, on Shona music and Zimbabwean culture. During Common Hour, in Grant Hall, room 114, there will be a discussion and performance, "The Music of Zimbabwe." Later that day from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. in the Evans-Lively Room of Old Carnegie will be a presentation and discussion titled "Music, Religion, and Politics in Zimbabwe." Cookies, tea and coffee will be provided.
For more information contact Nathan Link at firstname.lastname@example.org or (859) 238-5430.
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