27 November 2012

Zimbabwe: Thomas Mapfumo's Return Imminent

Self-exiled Chimurenga music icon Thomas Mapfumo is expected in Zimbabwe before the end of the year, as Government leaders move in to secure his return from the United States, where he is currently domiciled.

Deputy Prime Minister Professor Arthur Mutambara met Mukanya in Johannesburg last Thursday, where the two discussed details of his homecoming.

In an interview, DPM Mutambara confirmed the meeting, saying Mukanya was very receptive of the latest development.

"We talked at great length with Mukanya and indicated to him that we are committed as Government to work with our artistes and create an enabling environment to support them all the way."

"We want a situation where our artistes are able to live and perform here and we should be able to celebrate and appreciate their achievements and the contributions they have made.

Prof Mutambara described Mukanya as an icon boasting of a wealth of experience that the country needs to harness.

"He must be able to come, live and perform in Zimbabwe, something that I categorically stated to him and he was pleased with the information," he said.

However, Prof Mutambara could not reveal the dates of the show and referred all questions on the logistical arrangements to Mapfumo's manager, Cuthbert Chiromo.

Chiromo confirmed that everything was on course for Mukanya's homecoming shows, adding that he was working on the schedule with the promoters of the show.

"His homecoming shows have been necessitated by numerous inquiries by his legions of fans, high-profile individuals like Mr Karikoga Kaseke of Zimbabwe Tourism Authority and Government ministers who include Minister Shamu.

"They have also made it clear that they wish to see him come home and stage live shows."

"It was because of that pressure that I facilitated the meeting between Deputy Prime Minister Mutambara and mudhara so that they could talk about his homecoming."

He added that he would announce the dates once all the logistics and paperwork have been completed by the promoter of the show, businessman Philip Chiyangwa.

Chiyangwa reiterated that Mukanya's shows would be held soon, once all the paperwork is in order.

"You see, the biggest problem that people have is that they want to rely on the grapevine instead of hearing it from the horse's mouth.

"I don't know how many times I should say this, but I have been saying that people should brace themselves for a massive gig, because Mukanya is coming," he said.

Mukanya's legions of fans have for a long time been waiting for his homecoming show and there have been conflicting statements with some saying the Chimurenga maestro has vowed he will not set foot in Zimbabwe.

Mapfumo, who now lives in Oregon, Unites States, left Zimbabwe nine years ago and went into self-imposed exile alleging persecution and intimidation.

Initially, Mukanya would stage homecoming shows every festive season and his first return show after relocating to the US saw the Boka Tobacco Auction Floors in Harare packed to capacity.

Since then, people have been waiting for him to come home and stage another show, although he has been to South Africa, where he has held several gigs.

Born in 1945 in Marondera, Mukanya lived a traditional, rural lifestyle until the age of 10, when his family moved to Mbare.

He joined his first band, the Zutu Brothers as a singer at the age of 16, starting a musical journey that made him one of the greatest musicians in the country's history.

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