Zimbabwe is home to some of Africa’s most melodically gifted musicians, the most popular of whom seamlessly blend traditional instruments such as the mbira with modern African pop.

In class we listen to:
Thomas Mapfumo and the Blacks Unlimited: “Farirai Zimbabwe.” Mapfumo, known as “The Lion of Zimabwe,” pioneered “chimurenga” music (“chimurenga” is the Shona word for “struggle”). Mapfumo came to musical prominence as part of Hallelujah Chicken Run Band — surely one of the best-named bands ever — which formed in the darkest days of Rhodesian colonialism when the Mangura Copper Mine hired musicians including Mapfumo, some of whom worked as chicken-tenders, to entertain its weary miners.

Watch Mapfumo perform “Moyo Wangu.”

Listen to the Chicken Run Band’s “Ndiringe” and “Ndiyani Angandiudze” on YouTube. Hear a public radio feature on the Chicken Run Band.

Oliver “Tuku” Mtukudzi and the Black Spirits: “Dzoka Uyamwe.” Oliver Mtukduzi, one of Zimbabwe’s most beloved musicians, has rightly become an international favorite for his sweet melodies and his socially conscious lyrics. See Tuku perform both solo and with his band (this video is a little shaky) on YouTube.

Also, be sure not to miss the legendary George Sibanda, a Zimbabwean musical pioneer who has recently experienced a popular revival. We sing his 1950s hit “Dali Ngiyakuthanda Bati ha-ha-ha” in class as “Oh my baby how I love you, ha-ha-ha!”

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