AFTER learning that Chimurenga music legend Thomas Mapfumo is still living in exile in Canada and was longing to return to Africa – traditional leader Chief Livhuwani Matsila offered the man known widely by his totem Mukanya, land to build a home in his village in Limpopo, South Africa.
Mapfumo fled his home country Zimbabwe in 2003 fearing for his life. His music lambasting the rampant corruption under ZANU-PF turned him into an enemy of the state. He stayed on in the country but after numerous threats on his life and a tip-off – he fled to Canada.
Now 76, Mapfumo longs for the comfort of home but fears returning there still. He was and remains a strong critic of corruption and misrule in Zimbabwe.
In a previous interview in Johannesburg in 2010 he told me: “I’m looking forward to the day I will go back home and play music.”
Mapfumo also known by his totem Mukanya made a second visit to Ha-Matsila this month.
At a fireside jamming session with his mbira playing band Blacks Unlimited – I managed to chat briefly to the legend about his visit.
Lucas Ledwaba: Mukanya, just tell us, why are you here in Ha Matsila?
Thomas Mapfumo: Uhm, because you guys invited me here, especially Chief [Livhuwani] Matsila and I am very honoured to be here. You know, it’s something very special for me and I am going to tell my children about Chief Matsila and you people. You are people of the people. That is how I can sum it up. It is the love that you have that brought me here, because you love me as a brother and you are my people. When I am here I am at home. This is my home.
Ledwaba: I understand that you have been offered the opportunity to come and settle here, because you have always wanted to come back home to Africa.
Mapfumo: That is true.
Ledwaba: What is your reaction to that?
Mapfumo: My reaction is that when I am in Africa, I am at home. When I am here I am at home, this is Africa. This is my home and I am very proud of it. I am really honoured and I want to thank Chief Matsila that he is a man of the people. These are the leaders we need in Africa; really he is a great man.
Ledwaba: Mukanya will you be settling in Ha-Matsila anytime soon?
Mapfumo: Very soon, I am happy to settle here.
Ledwaba: … a burning question; there has been a lot of anti foreign or anti –African migrant sentiment in South Africa in recent months…
Mapfumo: Yeah sure.
Ledwaba: What are your thoughts on that?
Mapfumo: No its not very good for us to be at each others throat, because when you are in Africa and you are an African you can live anywhere in Africa because Africa is my home. I don’t need a passport to come to South Africa. I don’t need a passport to go to Nigeria because I am in African and I am at home. So let’s realise that the borders that we have today, were created by white people. We are the same people and Africa is our home. That is why you heard Peter Tosh say; “when you are a black man- you are an African”. So if you are a black man wherever you are, wherever you come from, you are an African.
Ledwaba: How much does Mukanya miss home?
Mapfumo: I miss home you know, and I cannot describe how much I miss home. I miss home and when I say miss home, I miss everything. I miss my people. I miss my country. I miss my own culture. I just miss everything and I just want to come back home. That’s what I want to do.
Ledwaba: People are asking why can’t Mukanya come back home now?
Mapfumo: It’s because when we talk of the home that I grew up, Zimbabwe, the situation is not very good there. That situation in Zimbabwe is really bad for our people. We need leadership, which says I will be there for the people, I will do what the people say because you don’t rule the people- the people are there to rule. They are the ones who put you there and if you mess around with them then you are digging your own grave. Don’t mess around with the people. Look after them. – ©Mukurukuru Media