Zimbabwe: Music Spiced Up Independence Festivities

15 April 2021

Zimbabwe has experienced many landmark events that changed its course since independence in 1980.

These important events were celebrated in various ways, with musicians playing a crucial role by providing songs fit for the occasion.

Who can forget Nyami Nyami Sounds' "Fundo Inokosha", a popular song that hailed the advent of free education at independence, encouraging children to take advantage and return to school after being disturbed by the liberation war.

Many other musicians sang about the turnaround in the health sector and other social sectors, development in general and the unity witnessed in the country that was brought by independence.

In celebrating independence, various musicians released relevant songs that added more fun in the celebrations.

In fact, independence can go down in history as the most sang about national event in Zimbabwe, as musicians took advantage of the euphoria to play their part to boost the celebrations.

At the same time, the musicians were conscious of the marketing opportunities that came with a huge event like independence and the celebratory mood that swept across the country.

Some of the music that celebrated independence in the early 80s is still popular, and regularly receive airplay requests even when Independence Day is still months away.

In 1980, Marshal Munhumumwe and the Four Brothers released the classic hit single "Makorokoto", which went gold.

"Makorokoto" was a congratulatory song, which expressed the singer's happiness at the country achievement of independence.

The line on the song: "Nhai amai hwee kani tofara isu, imi amai hwee kani topembera" (we are happy, we celebrate) captured the essence of the celebratory mood that engulfed the country at independence in 1980.

In fact, Munhumumwe does not forget in "Makorokoto" to remind people that independence did not come on a silver platter, it was a result of many years of liberation struggle, toil and sacrifices.

He then says independence brought peace and there is every need to celebrate and be happy in the new Zimbabwe.

Another popular song composed mainly to celebrate independence was Jonah Moyo and Devera Ngwena Jazz Band's "Gremma Wepamoyo".

The song is about a man who scores double happiness on Independence Day when he meets and falls in love with his sweetheart.

In this song, Jonah Moyo asks his newly found lover if she still remembers Independence Day, for it is the day they met and ended up in love.

The song goes:

Uchiri kuyeuka here zuva reIndependence

Zuva ratisingazo kangamwi muupenyu

Zuva ratakatarirwa naiye musiki

Zuva ratakasongana nhai mudiwa

Ndiro zuva ratakadanawo mudiwa

Ndiro zuva ratakapiwa kuzvitonga

Nyika ne rudo zuva rimwewo mudiwa

Rudo rwakadai rungaparara here?

It is the metaphorical presentation in this song in which Jonah Moyo likens a newly unveiled independent Zimbabwe to his lover that turned it into a hit in 1980.

In the song, Jonah Moyo is simply saying because of independence, Zimbabweans should be in love with their country (their darling) forever, saying the love affair will never be destroyed because it has its strong roots in independence.

Job Mashanda and The Muddy Face chipped in with two popular independence songs - "Independence" and "Zuva Rakabuda", which reminded people of the importance of independence to Zimbabwe.

These songs were widely played, with "Independence" emphasising the coming in of independence and wishing liberation struggle heroes like Mbuya Nehanda, Leopold Takawira and Tichafa Samuel Parirenyatwa were still around to witness the results of what they fought for.

In the song, Mashanda implores for unity among races in Zimbabwe.

On Zuva Rakabuda, Mashanda likens the advent of independence to a new day in Zimbabwe and Africa.

The late music superstar Oliver Mtukudzi provided the song "Zimbabwe" off his 1980 album "Africa".

In this song, Mtukudzi takes a dig at colonialists for being naïve by thinking that they had occupied Zimbabwe forever, and could do what they pleased.

He also thanks liberation fighters for taking up arms to fight colonial injustices, and when he says "Nyika yedu yeZimbabwe" he invokes the passion with which Zimbabweans had, which spurred them to do away with oppression and gain their independence.

Kasongo Band, which was at the time led by Ketai Muchawaya and made up of war veterans, provided the song "Asante Sana".

Although sang in Swahili, the song was a hit as it exalted the ethos of the liberation struggle and thanked regional leaders such as Julius Nyerere of Tanzania and Samora Machel of Mozambique for helping Zimbabwe fight for independence.

Their efforts helped to liberate the wananchi (ordinary people) in Zimbabwe, goes the song.

Harare Mambos took the route of recording popular songs that were sang during the liberation war such as "Mbuya Nehanda kufa vachitaura", "Tipeiwo Chimoto" and "Mhoroi".

The songs were widely played throughout the country as people gathered to celebrate independence.

Thomas Mapfumo, who had released some songs supporting the liberation struggle, produced an album in 1980 specifically meant to celebrate independence.

The album contained songs such as "Tozvireva Kupiko", "Pfumvu Paruzevha", "Chauya Chirizevha", Kwaedza muZimbabwe", "Africa", "Nyarai" and "Chipatapata".

Who will forget Jairos Jiri Sunrise Kwela Band's "Take Cover" released in 1980, which starts with: "Apo vapambepfumi vakange vari kupa nyika ino mazita maviri, vakazonzwa inzwi rakavavhundutsa richiti (a saxophone is played imitating a cock).

"Paraka kukuridza kudaro ndipo pakamanya chembere dzichifara chaizvo dzichipinda murizevha dzikati, Zimbawe yauya."

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