Friday, June 30, 2017

Mermaids Bring Joy: Thomas Mapfumo and the Blacks with "Chigwaya (The Bream Fish)"

"The Lion of Zimbabwe" brings us today's random tune, called Chigwaya (The Bream Fish). Thomas Mapfumo, also known as Mukanya, the praise name given to him in his Shona clan, is a sharp critic of Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe and is very popular and politically powerful. An innovator, he created the style of music known as Chimurenga - the word means "liberation" and focuses on themes of human rights, social justice and political dignity. It is also based on traditional mbira music, but played with modern electric instrumentation. Imprisoned during the white domination of the former incarnation of the country as Rhodesia, he now lives in the United States. His music is instantly recognizable to Zimbabweans and has influenced other Zimbabwean musicians. He occasionally returns to his home country though he hasn't been there since 2005. You can find Chigwaya (The Bream Fish) on his 1998 album Chimurenga '98. The song is a 1000 year old ceremonial mbira song calling mermaid spirits to bring health, wealth and powers of prophecy, and implies joy and delight in a time of plenty.