HARARE – United States of America-based chimurenga music legend Thomas Mapfumo (TM) has been a key player on Zimbabwe’s music scene for over four decades. The 70 year old music star, who is widely known as the Lion of Zimbabwe, spoke to Daily News entertainment editor Dakarai Mashava (DM)on a variety of issues. Below are excerpts of the interview:
DM: Of the new crop of Zimbabwean musicians who has impressed you the most and why?
TM: There are musicians who are playing good music but I can’t say there is a specific one who has impressed me. They are all doing good work under difficult circumstances. However, my worry is that there are now a few musicians playing our traditional music and it’s sad.
I understand you a lot of unreleased music, can we expect another album soon?
We are in the studio working on a new CD. We are almost finished. We have four more songs to record to complete the CD. It’s gonna be a very exciting CD and we are looking forward to it. We want it to be better than Danger Zone.
Can you tell us the best mbira players and guitarists you have worked with?
The best mbira who impressed me is Basil Makombe; he is my number one mbira player while the late Jonah Sithole was the best guitarist. When we talk of bass guitarist mukoma Charles Makokoba was the best. I never told him what to play. He used to know what to do .I don’t want to leave out Washington Kavhai. He was a very good bassman. Today we have Chris Muchabaiwa who is really good but Mukoma Charle (Charles Makokoba) was the best.
Among your children is there any well-placed to further your music legacy?
I don’t know about that because my children love music. My daughter Chiedza was involved on my latest CD Danger Zone. She and my brother’s daughter Cleopatra provided the female voices on the rest of the album which was really beautiful. She (Chiedza) is learning to play an instrument and she is trying follow in my footsteps. I hope maybe one day she will actually make her mind and do exactly what I am doing.
Which concert do you regard as your best ever?
I should say the one that we played in England in 1985. We played for 200 000 people at the Jobs For A Change concert. That was in the park, the Battersea Park. It is the best concert and I was in the headlines because of the size of the crowd. I still vividly remember the picture of the big crowd. (At The Jobs For A Change concert Mapfumo (who represented Africa) shared the stage with Billy Bragg, Hank Wangford, Aswad, The Blues Band, The Pogues, The Opposition, The Communards and Frank Chickens.)
Well I used to listen to music from the Congo, music of Franco which was rhumba music. That was really good music. That was Congolese music and that was their culture. He (Franco) actually inspired me a lot. There were a lot of other musicians like Bob Marley and his reggae music from Jamaica. These great musicians made me change and I thought of looking for my own identity and try to identify myself with my own people. As a boy I grew up in the countryside with my grandparents; they were so much into traditional music and mbira music was the music of the day. We used to enjoy that type of. I learnt a lot about our cultural music during that time. This is where my inspiration came from; it came from the rural areas where I grew up.
You recently performed in South Africa and Mozambique and you will headline a pre-Independence Day gig scheduled for Leicester, United Kingdom on April 16. When will you perform in Zimbabwe?
We are always singing about freedom. That is where we stand. We stand with the poor people. We don’t belong to any political party. We are just a band, a group of musicians and we enjoy our music. But really we know very well that there are some people out there who don’t like us for what we do.
As you know good will always overcome evil. You can never go wrong about it; good will always overcome evil. If you are doing evil things you will never succeed (because) love will always conquer. In anything we do we should show love. Love is the best.