Chimurenga maestro Thomas Mapfumo’s “Homecoming Bira” in Harare lived up to its billing, with his yet to be officially released political song Chauya Chauya wowing the crowds.
Mapfumo performed for the first time in the country after a 14-year self-imposed exile in the United States, now his new base.
Mukanya, as he is affectionately known by his legion of fans, graced the stage at exactly 2:14am on Sunday, performing most of his hits including Chikonzero, Bhutsu Mutandarika, Pidigori Waenda, Chiruzevha Chapera, Nyoka Musango, Mugara Ndega, Shebeen, Chamunorwa and Hwahwa.
But it was his latest song Chauya Chauya that stole the limelight, owing to its deep political undertones that overshadowed Jah Prayzah’s Kutonga Kwaro song, which became a hit following former president Robert Mugabe’s resignation last November.
Most of the fans responded to the politically-motivated song by means of raising their open-palms in the air. An open palm is the opposition MDC’s political symbol.
“Yave sarudzo muZimbabwe, tave nemakore mangani…chauya chauya vakomana…sarura wako waunoda…gore rino tinopedzerana…,” part of the song’s lyrics say.
As the song became so popular at Glamis Arena that Mukanya, who was smoking on stage performed it twice.
Jah Prayzah’s Kutonga Kwaro, which has become President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s anthem, is played each time there is a national or private gathering graced by the president.
However, on Saturday night, the situation was different, as the people that gathered at Mukanya’s show, totally rejected the song. During an interlude, the DJ started playing the song, but there was a loud booing from the crowd, asking the DJ to play another song.
This is not the first time that people have rejected the song, as a crowd in Mutare during a World Consumer Rights commemorations day, recently ordered the DJ to stop playing the song.
Mapfumo, who performed courtesy of Entertainment Republic, shared the stage with superstar Oliver “Tuku” Mtukudzi, Gary Tight, Suluman Chimbetu, Winky D and Diana Samkange.
One of Mapfumo’s songs that also “brought the house down” was Pidigori Waenda.
In Zimbabwe, the majority of citizens remember Mugabe and his wife Grace for their dictatorial tendencies hence Pidigori Waenda song was used to celebrate their departure last year in November when they were removed from power through a “soft coup.”
Though Mukanya managed to keep over 10 000 people at the concert on their toes throughout his slot, he disappointed some of his fans when he left the stage at 5:45am without performing the crowd’s favourite Mamvemve.
Meanwhile, Tuku and Chimbetu, who performed before Mukanya, also gave splendid performances.
One of the songs Tuku performed was Wasakara, a track released in the early 2000s and that was generally interpreted as an attack on Mugabe who was “refusing to let go the presidential seat despite his advanced age.”
Academic Fred Zindi once claimed that the song went on to cost Tuku an honorary degree from the University of Zimbabwe.
“By then, I was in the University of Zimbabwe Council and I presented the issue to the university council and at first the deal was promising but later questions about the meaning of the song Wasakara started to pop up and that was when the deal went wrong.
“The (UZ) council then promised to furnish us with a reply after consulting the university chancellor and up to now they are dilly-dallying with the issue and we are waiting for a reply,” said Zindi.
So popular was Wasakara that in 2001 it landed an engineer — Steven Schadendorff in trouble during a live show at the Harare International Conference Centre — when he shone a beam on the portrait of Mugabe during Tuku’s performance of the song which forced the crowd to sing along.
As the crowd sang along “Bvuma, Bvuma Chete, Bvuma wasakara, Bvuma waunyana” (Accept, accept that you are on the wane, accept you now have wrinkles on your skin), Schadendorff continuously shone the beam on the long serving Zimbabwe leader’s portrait.
Schadendorff who became known as the “Wasakara engineer’ during his trial was spared prison.