Following reports of the Chimurenga music legend Dr Thomas Mapfumo hitting hard times and reportedly being booted out of a Glen Lorne house where he was lodging, 263Chat visited the Mamvemve hitmaker at his new Mt Pleasant base to understand his situation better.
After being ushered into a spacious living room of a double-storey mansion reportedly belonging to Deputy Minister of Transport, Fortune Chasi, we wait for the Chimurenga music icon to grant us an exclusive interview on his current situation.
After a while, the “Hurricane Hugo” comes down to meet us and as we introduce ourselves the 73-year-old quickly expresses his discomfort being around local journalists, he says; “It is hard for me to trust you, local journalists. You come to me with agendas that you want to push.”
The old man is really skeptical of the motive behind our visit, he adds; “I am a victim of false reports that are being circulated about me prompting the public to misunderstand me.”
We remain quiet and turn on our recording tools as the “Nyoka Musango” hit-maker continues to empty his grievances.
“Homeless! Me? How can I be homeless in my country, Ndaigarepi ndisati ndaenda kuAmerica, don’t I have relatives here or a rural home at least?
“It would have been understandable had the report said I have become homeless in America because truly I am not American, the country is not my home,” fumed Mukanya.
In the midst of his rant about homelessness reports, Mapfumo assigns one of his aides to go upstairs and bring him a letter from Harare City Council that he had just received confirming his Glen Lorne residential stand allocated to him as a token of appreciation for his huge contribution to nation building through music.
“This letter just confirms that I can never be homeless in my home country. No one gave me a chance to give my position in the matter when the reports started circulating. I acquired seven hectares of land in Domboshava about 20 years ago that has not been occupied by anyone to date. Why would I not move there and chose to be homeless as if I have no property that I can occupy?” queried Mukanya.
Now feeling a lot more comfortable with us around him, Mapfumo diverted his attention to the local music industry.
“I have no problem with artists who choose to follow Zimdancehall. My only advice to them is when you decide to adopt other people’s genres as is with dancehall that is of Jamaican origin, you got to adopt the whole culture and that includes singing in Patois if they want to make an international appeal like Jamaican artists are doing.
“I called Jah Signal over the weekend wanting to tell him to maintain the lane he took on his song called “Shinga Muroora,” but unfortunately he did not pick, I even left him a message which he has not responded to yet. I believe if he maintains on that lane it will take him places.
“I also thank Oliver Mtukudzi for talking to Tocky Vibes, I love the lane he has taken now which I also believe will take him places. Garry Tight and Ammi Jamanda are among my favorites upcoming artists too,” he said conclusively.
Throughout our hour-long conversation, Mukanya was adamant that his countrywide shows were a success and that he will not succumb to pressure and bow out of the game he has known all his adult life.
Our conversations drifted to other interesting episodes in his life including his football club, his long stint with the late Mtukudzi, his time in the United States among other issues that I guess will be a story for another day.
He confided in us his decision against retreating back to his Oregon base, informing his fans to expect more shows starting with his upcoming joint act with Sulumani Chimbetu this weekend.
Afterwards, it was time for Kodak moments with the legend before we bade farewell to the Chimurenga music maestro.