The call from Dr Thomas Mapfumo came around 8pm. I was still in the newsroom and one of the sub-editors had called me for the call.
I had expected Mapfumo to call after a story I had written where I pointed out that his claims for asylum in the US were based on untruths. I remember the headline of the article was The Truth Shall Set You Free. It was not the first article I had written castigating Mapfumo for exaggerating his situation.
I am convinced even today that Mapfumo was and is never under threat from Government. Since he went to the US, he used to come for annual shows in Zimbabwe and was never harmed. One of such shows was held at Boka Tobacco Sales Floor on Christmas Eve 2001.
The last time he came to Zimbabwe in 2004, he stayed longer than usual and even performed at growth points. Most of such shows were dubbed farewell concerts. But such farewell concerts became many.
This was the second time I had spoken to Mapfumo. The first time was when his Zimbabwean manager Cuthbert Chiromo met me one afternoon and took me to Masasa at Gramma where Mapfumo’s album was being packed. It was in late 2004 and Mapfumo had promised that he would be home in April 2005 for his annual shows.
So I expected Mapfumo’s call and the vitriol that would spew. I expected it because he has a history of beating up reporters. My brother Shepherd Mutamba will have a story to tell about Mapfumo.
“Tokurova iwe nechipepa chako ichocho,” he said the moment I said hello and before I asked who it was on the other end. “Unofunga kuti uri chii iwe?”
I tried to interject but he gave me no chance.
“Ibvapa!” he shouted but I stood my ground and pushed him further.
“Mukanya matengesa,” I interjected.
“Ibvapa unoziva chii?’ He shouted at me.
“Munonyepa Mukanya. Hazvina hunhu,” I hit back.
Then his brother Lancelot came on the phone, “Nyarara tokurova! Unonyora nhema sei?”
The vitriol went on until (thank heavens) the phone went dead. I did not tell anyone about it that day. I was not shocked either. Later, in an interview with a Globe & Mail reporter, Mapfumo said he had to cancel his annual trip in 2005 because of my article. (See interview below)
I stand by what I said on that day. I don’t regret saying it and I would repeat it if I am to meet Mapfumo face to face.
I love Mapfumo’s music. I grew up on it. My late brother had all his vinyl LPs. I recall the day he got drunk and played Africa.
He cried while singing along to the song whose lyrics talk about returning to Africa where there is paper money. But then while there is paper money in Africa, there is famine, there is war and there is death. Yes, one can go back to Africa but they should remember that some went and never came back while others went and brought wives and children.
This song came during the last days of the war. It captured the mood of most youths who did not go out to war but stayed home. There were many other such songs like Pfumvu Paruzevha and Chiruzevha Chapera which made Mapfumo stand above other musicians.
By 1989, Mapfumo had become brave and his album Corruption proved that he was a man of the people. I remember when I was on teaching practice at Glen View 2 High School. I was based at the annex, Glen View 8 Primary School. I used to crawl down a drain to get to a shebeen where they played Chigwindiri (chimunhu chisina hama). That song drove me to tears.
One day, my deputy headmaster followed me to the shebeen and he saw me busy on the dance floor.
Then I could afford to attend Mapfumo’s shows and Mushandirapamwe Hotel was a favourite venue. I remember many times escaping from Mapfumo’s shows when empty beer bottles started flying across the room. One such incident still vivid in my mind was the day when a man was hit with a bottle on the face. I am sure he lost one of his eyes. We left when blood started pouring out. But we would still go back to watch Mapfumo.
I still have such love for Mapfumo and when I wrote about him lying, it was from my heart.
I feel Mapfumo left a yawning gap in Zimbabwe. I am also quite sure that even if he returns, Mapfumo will not command the same following he had before he left. This is because the new generation does not connect with him. Mapfumo has also failed to adapt to the changing musical trends in Zimbabwe. Oliver Mtukudzi has done so and in that stride took along the youth.
Mapfumo was trained by Kenneth and Laina Mataka when he moved to Mbare aged 10 from Mabvuku.
According to Laina, Mapfumo had tried music with the Zutu Brothers but failed before he approached them for help in 1962. (See the Mataka story). When he left, he joined the Cosmic Four Dots playing rock and roll music after Little Richard and Elvis Presley and then moved onto the Springfields in 1966 with which he recorded songs at the then Rhodesian Broadcasting Corporation until 1973 when Daram Karanga headhunted him for the formation of the Hallelujah Chicken Runn Band in Mhangura (See the story Meet the man who set up Thomas Mapfumo and James Chimombe).
Although it is widely believed that Mapfumo started singing traditional songs with the Hallelujah Chicken Runn Band, most of the songs he recorded were taken from the public domain. His first song was Chemtengure. There is also Shungu Dzinondibaya and Kunaka Wakanaka done on a rock and roll tip.
But it was with the Hallelujah Chicken Runn band where his traditional style became real traditional by the inclusion of guitars that produced mbira sounds.
When he left Mhangura, Mapfumo had no band and would hang around until he met the late Jonah Sithole at Jamaica Inn. Jonah was leading the Drifters, a band he had brought from Mutare in 1974. The band had changed its name from Pepsi Combo to Vibrations and the Drifters.
Mapfumo got the contract to play at Jamaica Inn ahead of Jonah but he had no group since he had just left Mhangura. So they agreed that they play together. For two months they worked together before Mushandirapamwe convinced them to relocate to Harare. Jonah left for a few months and when he returned, they formed the Black Spirit in 1975, but when Jonah left for the second time, Mapfumo disbanded the Blacks Spirits and formed the Acid Jazz Band while Jonah had the Storm in 1977.
In 1978, Mapfumo disbanded the Acid Jazz Band and together with Jonah formed the Black Unlimited. It should be noted that there are erroneous reports that Mtukudzi and Mapfumo once played in the same band. Mapfumo once had a band called the Black Spirits which was disbanded and then Mtukudzi took the name up. The two only toured together once but were never in the same band.
It was with the Blacks Unlimited that he solidified his foothold as both a social, economic and political commentator.
First, it was against the Ian Smith regime through songs such as Hokoyo, Pfumvu Paruzevha, Kuyaura, Shumba, Chitima Cherusununguko, Bhutsu Mutandarika, Chauya Chiruzevha, Dangurangu and Chipatapata.
Second, it was against the rampant corruption that plagued the new Zimbabwe through songs such as Varombo Kuvarombo (1989, Gwindingwi Rine Shumba (1980), Chimurenga for Justice (1985), Zimbabwe-Mozambique (1987), Varombo Kuvarombo (Corruption, 1989), Chimurenga: African Spirit Music (1995) and Roots Chimurenga (1996).
There is no doubt that most people especially the older generation respect Mapfumo for all this.
One would say that by seeking exile, Mapfumo lost the plot. Was he pushed or he jumped? Maybe, to understand this, one has to go through a lot of interviews, most of them conflicting, which Mapfumo has given over the years.
But first, let’s hear him talk for himself on who he is and where he came from. Below he spoke to newzimbabwe.com.
Legendary Zimbabwean singer Thomas Mapfumo believes he is one of Zimbabwe’s most understood celebrities. Fiercely private and loyal to his friends, Mapfumo has turned his back on Zimbabwe to live in Oregon, the United States, – fearing his life may be in danger “not from the big politicians, but their shock troops who have no qualms with taking a human life”.
This is The Truth About: Thomas Mapfumo
Born: July 2, 1945
Home Town: Harare
Marital Status: Married to Verna
Children: Two daughters Janet and Charmaine from his first marriage live in England. He has three other children from his second marriage to Verna –Chiedza who is studying Economics at the University of Oregon, 12-year-old daughter Matinyanya (she’s into all sorts of sports, particularly gymnastics, and can play the piano and trumpet) and son Tapfumaneyi (he’s starting in music)
Can you give us a brief history of your early years?
I grew up in rural areas. I was a herd-boy – herding cattle and goats. My grandfather was a musician, so playing music was natural for me. I want to think of myself as someone who was born a musician, because I just loved music.
Me and my brothers started off learning the guitar, not playing any particular tune but just playing around, always thinking about music.
I got my first break to perform music with a quartet called Zoot Brothers in Mabvuku. I was still at school, and they brought me in to sing some rock and roll.
I left them when I changed schools to Chitsere in Mbare. In Mbare, I was hooked up with the Mataka Family who were quite famous then. They had a kid by the name Edison (‘his father was a great entertainer and a magician’), he was just a genius. He played the piano very well, he could play the guitar – he was so good groups would come from Bulawayo and elsewhere without a guitarist and they used this youngster, he was a great musician. In my early years, I didn’t know my timing, so he would stop me in the middle of a song and say 'Mukoma Thomas, you are not supposed to come in at this part'.
Together with Edison, we formed a quartet – the Cosmic Four Dots – and we used to sing very well, performing rock roll songs. Our group also had Bernard Marriot who played for Dynamos and earned the nickname, Magitari.
Later, I joined the Springfields which was a rock and roll outfit. This time things had changed, quartets were phasing out. I then performed with the Halleluya Chicken Run band in Mhangura (given the name because most members of the group worked at the chicken run).
After Halleluya, we formed the Acid Band and recorded our first album, Hokoyo, in 1977. We would change the name of the band a year later to Blacks Unlimited. Our first album as Blacks Unlimited was Gwindingwi Rine Shumba (There Are Lions In This Wilderness).
You had a famous uncle, Marshall Munhumumwe, who got fame with Four Brothers. What role did he play in your early career?
He was part of the Springfields; I invited him to be part of the group. I taught him how to play the drums, that’s where he started playing music. After that, he joined Elijah Banda who sang the rhumba song, Connie Wadarirei. That was my song. Marshall later broke away and they formed the Four Brothers.
Which schools did you go to?
Chiwonana School in Nyandoro district, Marondera, then I came to the city and went to Donnybrook School in Mabvuku and later Chitsere in Mbare.
How do you prepare yourself for a show? Do you perform any rituals?
I don’t do that, I just pray to the Lord and say please lead me in whatever I’m gonna do right now.
Which music instruments can you play?
Drums and guitar. The guitar is my favourite. I also play a bit of piano.
Which musicians have inspired you?
A lot of names, top among them Bob Marley. His music inspires me; there are also other guys like Sam Cook, a black American. I listen to a lot of his music. And Otis Redding too. I am inspired by music that has a message.
I see there are no African names there?
I was inspired by Fela Kuti, I listen to Johnny Clegg, I also listen to my own fellow countryman Oliver Mtukudzi and a friend of mine Mzwakhe Mbuli, I like the message in his music.
Talking of Mtukudzi, your relationship has been the source of endless rumours. In your own words, how would you describe it?
We have a very good relationship; we grew up together and play music together. We are just good friends, he’s a musician like me and we enjoy music.
What’s your favourite movie and why?
I’ve watched a lot of movies, some of them really impressive like Sometimes In April which reminds me of our situation in Zimbabwe where we are at each other’s throats, it really touched me. The movie is about the genocide in Rwanda and I don’t wanna see a situation like that in our country.
What are you most afraid of?
I am afraid of God. I am very much afraid of God. Oh, and snakes!
What’s your attitude toward life?
I am actually someone who likes to keep to himself, I don’t go out so much like a lot of other people do, where they go to clubs and enjoy other people playing music and dancing. I go to church and keep to myself, always writing music, and talking to the group and my brothers who are my good friends … we are very close. I don’t forget all my friends I grew up with, no matter how poor they are. When I meet them we still talk, have a drink and reminisce.
Which song holds special memories for you?
There’s no particular song which I like, every song that I have written is special to me.
If your house caught fire, and you had just enough time to retrieve two items, what would those be?
My piano and guitar. The guitar is my life.
Have you ever been bitten by an animal?
I was actually gored by a cow. I was a young boy, I didn’t know this cow was just something wild. I was trying to go near it and it charged at me.
If you were to be invisible for a day, what would you get up to?
I would go back home (Zimbabwe) and try to feed the people who are suffering. Nobody is gonna see me!
You have travelled the world on tour, is there still any place that you still wish to visit?
Yes, Brazil and some other South American countries, and a few Asian countries. We’ve been everywhere in Europe, but haven’t been to South America.
What do you think of piracy?
It’s bad, it’s really damaging because musicians are losing a lot of money to piracy. If you deprive musicians of their income, it’s not good. The music industry needs to find a way to deal with piracy, like when they make a CD, they must find a way to stop people from downloading it or make them buy the music.
What was the craziest rumour you heard about yourself?
A friend called me and said ‘Mukanya, are you there, somebody told me you are dead’. When somebody tells you something like that, you get slightly worried and say ah, how come? You start pinching yourself just to be sure they are wrong!
When are you releasing your next album?
The album is ready, the title is Exile. We will finalise it when we go back to America and if all goes well, it could be out in December or early next year. – newzimbabwe.com
There is talk today that Mapfumo is running away from the police over a case involving stolen cars. But in this interview Guy Nixon of the Globe & Mail, Mapfumo claims that the Government is after him and that although he returns home sometimes he is ‘invariably harassed’ by Zanu-PF youths.
Freedom fighter cries out for home
Thomas Mapfumo's music helped fight white rule in Zimbabwe in the 1970s. Now, the Globe and Mail's Guy Dixon writes, he's a marked man for protesting the iron rule of Robert Mugabe
The man sometimes described as Zimbabwe's Bob Marley answered the telephone cautiously.
A singer whose protest music pushed for independence against the white minority government of what was then Rhodesia; he has since been forced into exile by the authoritarian rule of President Robert Mugabe. "Thomas Mapfumo?" I asked after getting past a call-blocking device. "Who's this?" Mapfumo responded with a low rasp from his home in Eugene, Ore., where he now lives.
The interview had been prearranged, but he was careful. Fame isn't his only reason to be cautious, even though Mapfumo comes as close to legendary status as anyone in southern African music, specifically Chimurenga music. It's a music he largely created, the deceptively light, polyrhythmic pulse of political struggle, and based on the cyclical patterns played on the traditional, metal-pronged mbira. Mapfumo, who is in his late 50s, is also undoubtedly cautious because of Mugabe, who swept last month's elections despite widespread accusations by the West that his ruling Zanu PF party once again stole the vote.
Whenever he returns to Zimbabwe, Mapfumo is threatened by government thugs. When he's away, the Mugabe-aligned press attacks him. Yet, Zimbabwe's economic devastation under the government's tight fist has only strengthened the protest message in Mapfumo's new album Rise Up, currently available in North America only as a digital download at calabashmusic.com. "When you are fighting against oppression, there is no difference. It is the same thing we were fighting against in colonial days. And now this man is in power; he is black like me, and he is still doing the same. The message doesn't change at all," Mapfumo said. "The first song on the CD is Kuvarira Mukati," which Mapfumo said means "silent suffering." "A lot of people have hated inside, but they are afraid to stand up and say something. So we are saying to them, you shouldn't just keep quiet. You have to say something. This has been going on for more than 20 years now. How long are we going to suffer?"
Mapfumo's music is banned from Zimbabwean radio, although some of his old material is more or less sanctioned. A disc of his liberation songs from the 1970s with his group at the time, the Hallelujah Chicken Run Band, was recently reissued; harking to an era Mugabe continually celebrates. It was a time when guerrilla fighters were listening to Mapfumo shift his music away from heavily Western-influenced rock and incorporate traditional instruments and lyrics in the language of his Shona people. It became an act of protest against the Rhodesian government, just as the roots movements in reggae and rock around the world were similarly laced with politics.
Mugabe would like to pretend that Mapfumo existed only in that era. "I'm in the history books. Schoolchildren learn about me. They talk about me, what I did during the liberation struggle, the part my music played," Mapfumo said. "They tell the people that kind of history. And yet they don't want to play my music on the radio." It seems no surprise, then, that Mapfumo has had problems getting his latest album pressed and sold in his country. To Western listeners, it may be hard to appreciate how the lilting harmonies, the plink-plonk of mbiras and skipping beats can cause such opposition. The reason is in Mapfumo's moral messages. Zimbabwe's Gamma Records has had mechanical problems getting the CD manufactured, or so Mapfumo was told when he contacted the company. Only a few thousand copies have been pressed, a tiny fraction of what the singer believes he could sell if the administration wasn't trying to sabotage his album anyway it can, Mapfumo said.
Since moving away, he has continued to return to Zimbabwe to perform. He is allowed in the country, yet he is invariably harassed. "The last time I was there, I was in the countryside. I went to see my folk there in the rural area. I went into the shops to by some meat - from the butchery. And there was a group of youth. When they saw my car, they were coming for me. My brother saw that we needed to drive away." The group followed them and eventually stopped Mapfumo's car. "When they approached us, they said they wanted to see our membership cards, political cards for the Zanu PF party. I said they have no right to ask me about that. They were just trying to make problems. And then I pulled out my pistol and they ran away."
Meanwhile, the press attacks continue. The Herald, a Zimbabwean newspaper, has claimed that Mapfumo exaggerates his popularity. "Mapfumo . . . now spends much of his time spreading falsehoods about alleged threats on his life while his music career is on the slide," a Herald article last December said. This was around the time when the singer had hoped to visit, but cancelled his trip after being told it was too dangerous for him during the run-up to the election. Citing a list of allegations, the article also repeated claims that Mapfumo's cars had been connected to an auto-theft ring.
The singer scoffed at this in a grandfatherly way, his heavily accented words occasionally rising above his normal baritone. "I don't want to talk to that paper, because they want to bring me down. Everything they say about me is suspect. That paper is for the Zanu PF."
In trying to understand Mapfumo's story from so far away, so utterly removed from Zimbabwe and his experiences, I mentioned a quote attributed to Nigeria's late musical-great performer Fela Kuti that "in my society, there's no music for enjoyment. There's only a struggle for people to exist." I asked Mapfumo if all music in Zimbabwe under the Mugabe government is inevitably political. "No, I don't think so," he answered to my surprise. "It depends on who they are what their music is all about. My music is different than the rest of music in Zimbabwe." Oliver Mtukudzi, another leading Zimbabwe musician, appears to be striving for apolitical ground, although this only seems to draw him deeper into controversy, particularly after performing at a Zanu PF function shortly before the election. "It had nothing to do with politics," Mtukudzi is quoted as saying in a Zimbabwe Standard article. "I have relatives everywhere, in the [opposition] MDC and even in Zanu PF." Still, one of the singer's hits was also used in a government election ad. His manager described both moves as "business suicide" for Mtukudzi. "I'm sure he's trying to be good so that these people won't come after him. But that's not the way. If you're a freedom fighter, you have to stand with the poor people, stand with those who are suffering," Mapfumo said.
Then there are other musicians who are berated for blatantly pandering to Mugabe, such as the singer Tambaoga, who had a sensationalist hit using a play on words likening Tony Blair to a toilet. Blair has been a regular target of Mugabe's rhetoric. These musicians "are not popular with the people," Mapfumo added. "They are just being used for propaganda purposes." Yet for a sensationalist song like Tambaoga's to become a hit in a country so musically rich suggests an artificial vacuum, a hole caused by the absence of stronger cultural forces such as Mapfumo. The situation, he said, is only getting worse, although he insists his music still has an impact on Zimbabweans. "They go for my music. They are buying my music. And this is why they are trying to sabotage this CD." - Globe & Mail.
Despite his claims, Mapfumo had another interview with Banning Eyre of Afro-pop on his return to the US after his first performance in Zimbabwe in 2002.
Shortly after Thomas Mapfumo returned from Zimbabwe in February, 2002, Banning Eyre reached him at his home in Eugene, Oregon. They discussed Mapfumo's first performances at home in almost a year, his new album Chimurenga Rebel, and prospects for Zimbabwe's immediate future.
BANNING EYRE What was it like getting back to Harare after such a long time away?
THOMAS MAPFUMO: When we arrived, a lot of people welcomed us at the airport. There were the guys from the TV, from ZBC television. They were by the airport, and they interviewed me. After that, we proceeded home. Well, it was quite a good visit, and a good experience.
The first show that we played, it was in Bulawayo at the Large City Hall. There were many people there. The other one, which was on New Year's Eve, was at Boca Tobacco Auctions. Nearly 10,000 people turned up. We had another one in Mutare. It was a house full, at the Queens' Hall. And then we had another one at the Sheraton, at the conference center in Harare. We had over 3000 people there. And the next day we had another one a Mushandirapamwe, which was house full. I think the Mushandirapamwe was the last show that we did.
B.E.: You told it like it is when talking to the press. Were you worried about your safety in doing that?
T.M.: Well, I was a bit concerned, but I wasn't afraid. I knew a lot of ears were listening. A lot of people liked it, though as you know, talking of this recently released music, Chimurenga Rebel, it was banned from being played on the radio. And this, I can confirm with you, because I spoke with one of the DJ's who is working with ZBC, and he said they were called to a meeting by this Minister of Information, Jonathan Moyo. They discussed about my music, especially this recently released one, Chimurenga Rebel. He was saying a lot of things about the music. "This is why this guy named his music Chimurenga Rebel, because he's a rebel. He's just like a terrorist." They were trying to deny, saying that the music was not banned, but it was banned. They never play that music on the radio.
B.E.: But people bought the record.
T.M.: That's right. They're buying the record. They love the music, and they think it's quite a good record.
B.E.: Tell us about some of the songs on Chimurenga Rebel.
T.M.: "Marima Nzara" is about the way the farmers are being treated in that country, the way they are chasing them away. They are actually inviting hunger. That's the meaning of the record. I think the rest of that CD is full of what is happening in that country, like there's another song, "Huni, Huni." It's about that other guy who was causing a lot of problems with the farmers, Chenjerai Hunzvi. Huni is just a name. It's like firewood. So we are saying, "Huni, huni. Do not play with the people. Don't mess around with the people. Because the people can actually put you out of power. You will end up living in exile." He [Hunzvi] died. Because he was playing with the people.
B.E.: So did that ZBC television crew ask you about these songs?
T.M.: Yeah, they did. I told them that my music was for peace, and what I'm actually singing about is a reality. It's about things that are happening today. So they cut it off. [LAUGHS] They had to keep some good parts, where I said a lot of good things. And then where I was a bit critical, they had to just leave that out.
B.E.: Did you ever have the sense that you were in danger?
T.M.: When I went to my home area in the rural areas, Guruve. We were going there to perform some certain ceremonies. So we were there and when we got home, there was not enough meat for the people to eat, so we decided to go to the shopping center to find some meat from the butchery. So when we were there, there were these youngsters. They were being addressed by a policeman. When they saw my car, they came to my car. Of course, William [Thomas's brother] was driving and there were four of us in the car. The other three guys had just got out of the car and I was alone in the car. William was standing outside the car. These youngsters approached them and said, "Are you the owner of this car?" William said, "Yeah, it's our car." These youngsters said, "Can you give us a lift?" William said, "Going where?" [LAUGHS] They said, "Ah, we want to go where we want to go." William pointed to where there were some ETs carrying passengers, and he said, "Why don't you just go to the ETs and get a lift from them? This is not for carrying passengers." Then they said, "Ah, well, we thought that maybe your car was cheaper than them."
So we actually realized that these people were looking for trouble. We drove off from that place and went to a different butchery. They followed us there. We drove off again from that second place and they were watching. We went to another butchery and there was no meat. We had to go to the other butchery. When we were there, these youngsters came. I had my pistol in the car. William was outside the car, and the other two brothers of mine were inside the butchery.
So they came over to me and said, "Good afternoon." I said, "Good afternoon." They said, "Mr Mukanya, can you show us your ZANU-PF party card." [LAUGHS] So I said to these youngsters, "Who are you? How dare you ask me about a ZANU-PF card? What sort of a person are you talking to? Do you know me?" Then I actually produced my pistol, and these youngsters ran away.
Well, we finally got some meat and we drove back home. After a while, there was a truck full of policemen. They came after me. They said, "We heard you pointed a gun at someone at the shopping center." I said, "I never pointed a gun at anyone. They were threatening us, so we just drove off. We actually left them there by the shopping center." Then they said, "Have you got a license for this gun?" I said, "My license is at home." Because I hadn't brought my license with me. So they took my gun. They actually took it to a police station.
After the ceremonies, I followed them and I explained everything to them. So they said I should actually go back to Harare to get my license. I went back to Harare, and the next morning, we came back--me and William--and we showed them the license. The gun was licensed until 2003. So they gave me my gun back. That's the story. You know, a lot of things are happening there. They go around in the townships beating up people, those who are suspected to be MDC supporters.
B.E.: So what happens if you don't have a card?
T.M.: They beat you up. You might just be kidnapped and be killed. There is a lot of chaos. People are being beaten nearly every evening. The soldiers and the policemen they just go into the pubs and start beating people and accuse them of supporting the MDC. There has been a lot of chaos in that country. It's unbelievable.
B.E.: It must have been great to perform there when people are so hungry for some kind of hope.
T.M.: Ah well, I think it was quite exciting. The situation was quite exciting, but also at the same time, there is a lot of misery amongst our people. People are not happy, Banning. They are being suppressed by the ruling party. Like I said, they go around beating up people, stopping people, erecting roadblocks in the rural areas, those militias. It's just no good.
B.E.: So what do you think will happen in the March presidential election?
T.M.: If Mugabe doesn't rig the election, he's going to lose, because a lot of people are very disappointed about him. He has to do a lot of rigging. It's going to be very difficult for him to do that. [LAUGHS] Everyone is saying, "We will meet at the polling station."
B.E.: You really get the feeling that people want to vote, don't you?
T.M.: Yeah, yeah. People want to vote. They would like to vote him out. A lot of them have been saying that.
B.E.: But I understand that you cannot actually vote because you won't be in the country, right?
T.M.: Yeah, I cannot vote, because they actually passed some new laws. They are trying to actually suppress the opposition party, but it ain't going to help. It ain't going to help.
So angry can Mapfumo get such that in one interview, he called for people to take up arms against Mugabe’s government.
Mapfumo calls for armed struggle
In sign of how bad things have become in Zimbabwe, Chimurenga music icon, Thomas Mapfumo, has called for an armed struggle to topple Robert Mugabe.
Mapfumo who was in the UK recently for the Live 8 concerts says the white regime of Ian Smith did more for the welfare of Africans than Robert Mugabe's government has.
The title of his new CD, 'Rise Up' has a song entitled 'Kuwarira Mukati'. In the song he calls on Zimbabweans to rise up and not suffer in silence.
Mapfumo says the government has banned his music on the state broadcaster because of the political content. The ban is now so broad they will not even play any of his love songs. He had a very good relationship with government before independence but this gradually deteriorated as Mugabe became more dictatorial, he said.
When people elected Mugabe they thought he would be their saviour, but Mapfumo believes he has been a big let down.
Pressed on what he meant by rise up, he said 'if we say enough is enough, the gun is the answer.'
He told SW Radio Africa: "The suffering in the country has gone on for far too long and people just have to do something to effect change."
But whatever Mapfumo says, the police insist that they will pick him up for an unclosed docket involving allegedly stolen cars.