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date: 31 May 2020

Mapfumo, Thomas locked

1945–Prominent chimurenga musician from Zimbabwe.
  • Ari Nave

Extract

Thomas Mapfumo created Chimurenga Music, a new style that drew on Shona traditions of music as a form of resistance to confront colonial oppression in Rhodesia (present-day Zimbabwe), then under white-minority rule. Raised in the rural household of his grandparents, themselves traditional musicians, Mapfumo learned traditional Shona music from an early age. The young Mapfumo played the mbira (thumb piano) and drums during his grandmother’s performances at beer parties.

To obtain a better education, Mapfumo moved to Salisbury (present-day Harare). His musical repertoire expanded as he discovered other African, European, and American musical styles—including the music of Nat “King” Cole, Otis Redding, and Elvis Presley. In Salisbury, he sang in a number of local bands, covering popular tunes by Sam Cooke and the Beatles, whose lyrics he sang in Shona. In 1973 Mapfumo formed the Hallelujah Chicken Run Band most of the band members worked in ...

A version of this article originally appeared in Africana: The Encyclopedia of the African and African American Experience.

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