Thomas Tafrienyika Mapfumo, popularly known as Mukanya and otherwise known as The Lion of Zimbabwe, has had a long and illustrious career in the Zimbabwean music industry. A living legend in reality.
The Early Years
The pioneer of the Chimurenga* Music genre, Mapfumo was born in Marondera on the 3rd of July, 1945. He was interested in music from a very early age and began playing traditional instruments while in Marondera. He moved to Mbare in Harare to be with his parents when he was about 10 years old. Mbare, at the time, was alive with mass action against the political regime, and of course, young Mukanya was fully exposed.
In 1973, Mapfumo joined Hallelujah Chicken Band and thereafter he joined with others in Acid Band releasing the critically acclaimed album ‘Hokoyo!’**. After leaving Acid Band, Mapfumo decided to explore his own more personal sound…
Which brings us to the next phase of Mapfumos career: Blacks Unlimited was formed in 1978 as an answer to the need for Chimurenga Music to become its own genre. Together this band would play for, entertain and educate masses of Zimbabweans around the world.
To give you some context on the kind of musician Mukanya and the Blacks Unlimited are:
In 1980, Thomas Mapfumo and the Blacks Unlimited played with Bob Marley at the biggest show to commemorate Zimbabwe’s independence. In 1984, they played with music legend Elton John in England.
While together, they released about 24 albums, alone, he released many more. If you want to listen to some of the more popular tracks, start by looking up ‘Chamunorwa’*** on your music platforms.
Bringing us to today, where we can pay homage to this legend.
Tinotenda Mukanya, for all the years of grounded wisdom you have passed down.
Happy birthday Mukanya!
*Chimurenga– ‘liberation’ or ‘revolution’
** Hokoyo– ‘Watch out!’*
**Chamunorwa– ‘What are you fighting for?’
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