INTERNATONAL showbiz music-starved Zimbabweans will have every reason to smile about following a rare tour of Zimbabwe by an American hip-hop outfit next
month, independentxtra has gathered.
Atlanta-based five-piece band, Afar, which is increasingly becoming a force to reckon with in the world of hip-hop, is set to tour Zimbabwe on December 5 and will be in the country for four days.
The last time Zimbabwe witnessed a tour by a renowned American musician was in 2004 when R&B sensation, Randy Crawford, performed in Harare.
Apart from Crawford, other groups who have toured the country include R&B quartet Soul for Real in 1996 and hip-hop outfit, The Lost Boys, the following year.
Ever since then, American musicians have been slow in coming, possibly due to tension between Harare and Washington over Zimbabwe’s appalling human rights record characterised by police brutality and political repression.
US President George Bush at one time said Zimbabwe posed an “unusual threat to America’s foreign policy”, while his Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, described the country as an “outpost of tyranny”.
Information filtering in this week from US embassy officials suggests that the move to invite Afar is aimed at fostering cultural cooperation between Harare and Washington, whose relations have remain glacial over the past six years.
The officials said the group will be in Harare for two days and is likely to perform at the Harare International Conference Centre (HICC) and admission to the music extravaganza is going to be by “invitation”.
Afar, the officials said, is also going to conduct music training classes and workshops to aspiring musicians with preference being given to the hip-hop genre at Oliver Mtukudzi’s Pakare Paye Arts Centre in Norton.
The band will then proceed to Bulawayo where similar classes will be held before flying out of the country.
This month alone Afar has toured Namibia and Swaziland. Next week they head for Uganda from November 20-24, then land in South Africa on November 25-30, before crossing the Limpopo into Zimbabwe.
Afar is sonically complete and its members are imbued with rich backgrounds in jazz, gospel and R&B. The band is currently recording its second album. Besides live music, Afar combines two other concepts that are often woefully absent from hip-hop: unity and education.
The group conducts workshops at schools to teach children that in this era of electronic music, the source of it all is live instrumentation. Afar recorded their debut album, A Tribe Called Quest, in 1996.
However, the group will have to brush up on its communication skills.
Efforts to contact band leader Doran Johnson to hear his feelings about touring Zimbabwe and his outfit’s expectations were in vain as he failed to respond to questions sent to him.