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‘Lion of Zimbabwe’ recalls ‘Chimurenga’ on Independence Day

Thomas Mapfumo

Thomas Mapfumo

(GIN) — As Zimbabwe marks its 34th year of independence from colonialism, singer Thomas Mapfumo sent a salute “to the brave heroes and heroines who joined the war of liberation.”

In a radio interview, Mapfumo — the “Lion of Zimbabwe” — recalled the time of the Independence War. “When we were singing — it was about freedom, justice, hence I coined my music “Chimurenga.”

“Even though I was not holding a gun, it was a difficult terrain and I was constantly harassed, arrested and detained because I denounced oppression and colonialism,” he told Nehanda radio. “My dream was to see a free Zimbabwe where our citizens are able to access education, health, access to decent accommodation, and above all a better life for everyone.”

He continued: “Today, we need all hands on deck to do more to make real the dream of equality, justice and a better life for all. The brutalities of the past — detentions without trial, disappearances of our people, deaths in detentions, hangings of those opposed to colonialism, imprisonment, exile, massacres, assassinations, forced evictions, banishments and laws that made the lives of Black Zimbabweans unbearable — are testimonies our freedom was never free.”

“Although today we walk tall because our collective efforts culminated in the 18th of April being our Independence Day, we all still carry scars that remind us our freedom, which is at times taken for granted, was never free.”

“We cannot allow tribalism to prevail in our society, communities and in any of our various and diverse institutions.”

Finally, Mapfumo closed with the theme of one of his popular songs. “Our nation must develop, but instead of working to develop our country there are those selfish individuals who because of their positions of influence are busy stealing from the poor. That must stop; it’s a betrayal of the values of the liberation struggle and our national independence.”

The 69-year-old Mapfumo was imprisoned without charges under the white-dominated regime of Rhodesia. He now lives in exile in Oregon and although he has occasionally returned to Zimbabwe he has not been back since 2005.

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