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Chimurenga musician Mapfumo still has the midas touch

By Moses Mugugunyeki recently in Boksburg, South Africa

Thomas Mapfumo recently defied age by putting up vintage performances before full houses, mainly Zimbabweans resident in South Africa in the two-leg gig at Ekurhuleni Boksburg Hotel on the outskirts of Johannesburg.

The hotel, formerly Transvaal Hotel, hosted a mini festival dubbed Bira Pahotera, which was being headlined by Mukanya and supported by South African Shivers Mlaudzi and Zimbabwean acts, including Rimba Mbira, Darlington “Mhofela”, African Vibes, DJ Platinum and DJ Allex.

Mapfumo, who wrapped up his performance in South Africa with a gig last night, showed he still commands a huge following with fans flocking from all over the world to watch the legendary singer live on stage in Boksburg, a mining city just outside Johannesburg.

Fans came far as far afield as Cape Town, Durban and Polokwane in South Africa, while others flew from the United Kingdom and Saudi Arabia.

Harare was represented by a group of Mukanya fanatics, who drove all the way to see their idol live on stage.

“This is a once in a lifetime show that one does not want to miss. We came from Polokwane just to see Mudhara,” said Willard Zhou, a Zimbabwean based in Polokwane.

In the first leg of the show last week on Saturday, Mukanya got on stage at 11:45pm with the track Gwindingwi to the delight of the crowd before churning out hit after hit, including tracks Ndozvireva Kupiko, Usatambe Nenyoka, Manhungetunge, Shabeen, Tinokumbira Mvura and Ngoma Yokwedu before taking a break. He interceded his performance with chants, Yahwee and Zimbabwe, much to the delight of the fans.

It was sing-alongs throughout the legendary singer’s performance that lasted till the early hours of Sunday.

Clad in a black outfit and red sneakers, Mukanya proved he was still in the game despite showing some elements of frailty.

“We thank you all who have come for the show for your loyal support. If you are not cultured, you are a nonentity in society. We need our culture, even if we are in foreign lands,” said Mukanya

He said most of the problems in Zimbabwe were mainly caused by “dumping our traditional culture for exotic ways of doing things.”

The supporting acts did not disappoint with upcoming Afro-fusion singer Mhofela showcasing his talent on stage with a polished act.

Urban grooves’ Nox Guni who was not part of the act “stole” a few moments before Mukanya’s performance and showed what he is made of.

Boksburg Hotel has now become home to Zimbabwean music, and the owner Rodger Muzawazi believes its “a way of doing away with those nostalgic stresses.”

“We are here and we miss home a lot. Bringing such artistes like Mudhara Mapfumo helps us reconnect with our roots in Zimbabwe,” Muzawazi said.

“It’s not about South Africa only, but we have people who have travelled all the way from Saudi Arabia, UK and Harare to be with us here because of Mudhara.”

Muzawazi said he was looking forward to a number of such shows, with the next gig being Selmor Mtukudzi’s show at the end of this month.

The hotel hosts Mbira Dzenharira on December 14.

“During all these shows, Zimbabwean artistes will be supporting acts,” he said.

Mhofela, one of the supporting acts during the Bira Pahotera gig expressed gratitude to Muzawazi for providing them space.

“It’s difficult to get such platforms when you are a foreigner, but our brother (Muzawazi) is doing a sterling job towards that cause,” Mhofela said.

“I had great time sharing the stage with Mudhara Mukanya. I learnt a lot from him and we are planning to do a collaboration. It was an opportunity for me.”

Mapfumo’s manager Sam Mataure said the Corruption singer was mulling over staging shows in Zimbabwe.

“It’s something that is being worked out. Mukanya said he wants to have a big show in Zimbabwe and we are working on the logistics,” Mataure said.

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