Saturday, August 19, 2006


Thomas Tafirenyika Mapfumo, aka Mukanya, should be happy.

Last Monday morning, just before sitting down to an interview with in Toronto, Canada, he received news from his Oregon base. He and his family’s political asylum application had been accepted by US authorities.

“That is great news,” I said.

“I should not have been forced to do it. No Zimbabwean should be forced to seek refugee protection abroad. It is humiliating,” Mukanya responded, betraying a controlled anger with President Robert Mugabe’s dictatorship.

“I fought for that country in my own way. We all fought for it, and yet some people are now claiming everything, including the right to oppress us, suppress our views and just burn our country,” added the typically defiant Mapfumo.

The man considered by many as Zimbabwe’s best known musical export is also hailed as one of the unsung heroes of Zimbabwe’s liberation war.

In the 1970s when others were crossing over into Mozambique and Zambia to participate in a guerrilla uprising that brought independence in 1980, Mapfumo used his music to fight the “people’s enemy on his turf”. He was thrown in jail for it.

After independence, Mapfumo was soon throwing salvos at the Zanu PF government which fast turned into a corrupt regime and slowly degenerated into the dictatorship it is today.

“I really feel sad about what is happening at home,” said Mukanya whose latest album, Rise Up was banned in Zimbabwe because it highlights the problems inflicted on the people of Zimbabwe by the government.

“Educated people are supposed to know better but they have degrees of destruction,” he said in reference to Mugabe and most of his ministers who are university graduates. “Yet, tikaisa sabhuku anotogona kutonga nyika zvirinani 'if we put a mere village headman in office in Zimbabwe, he may do a better job'.”

The aging music guru believes that Zimbabwe’s problems would best be solved through dialogue between Mugabe’s Zanu PF and Morgan Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).

However, he said on his last visit to Zimbabwe, Tsvangirai invited him for an exchange of views.

“For hours we talked with Tsvangirai and I believe he has very good and workable ideas which he is ready to share with Mugabe, but the old man does not want to share anything,” he said.

Mukanya also lamented that despite that there are an estimated 3-4 million Zimbabweans in the Diaspora, they are not doing anything to force change in Zimbabwe.

“There are enough of us out here to cause change in Zimbabwe through lobbying, advocacy and other means, but typically, we are not united,” he said.



If you were not at El Mocambo, Toronto on Friday night, I know you want to me to tell you what Mukanya was up to and I will tell you, of course.

For more than 2 hours, Thomas Mapfumo, the Lion of Zimbabwean music, did what he knows best. He took his sizeable (I mean really sizeable) audience back to the good old days with such yesteryear hits as “Chipatapata”, “Chiruzevha Chapera”, “Corruption” and many more until he fittingly closed with “Bhutsu Mutandarika”.

When I got to the El Mocambo Club -seeing the small crowd- I was fearful that Mukanya might do what those who claim to know him better accuse him of doing, that is, play just a few minutes and take off complaining that he was such a big name who only performs to big crowds.

Well, none of that happened, in fact Mukanya performed as if he was in front of 60 000 fans in The National Sports Stadium back in Harare.

I am not about to give excuses for Mukanya, but the small crowd could have been that he performed to a large non-paying crowd on Monday and the thrifty among us took advantage. After all most of us are still on social assistance!!

I have some advice though for Thomas Mapfumo: Mukanya, people do not like it or enjoy it when you crouch down, right to the floor to sing. Are you in agony, they want to know.

Also, audiences want to see you dance all the time, not shuffle a little and then stand up there and watch them with what most construe as a bemused or disapproving stare while Loveness, your backing singer and dancer, is literally killing herself with fancy footwork.

Just thought I should say this and hope that when you come next time there will be a more upright Mukanya to listen to, watch and dance with.


Thursday, August 17, 2006


Zimbabwe’s Girl Child Network (GCN) has won the first ever United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)’s Red Ribbon Award for addressing gender inequalities that fuel the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

The award was presented to GCN founding director, Betty Makoni by Her Royal Highness, Princess Mette-Marit of Norway on Wednesday night at the 16th International AIDS Conference in Toronto, Canada.

AIDS is not something that one can raise a glass to in a toast, particularly when one considers how much it has devastated our country.

However, an award like this is a cause for some form of celebration, if only to congratulate Ms. Makoni and her staff and sponsors for assisting more than 20 000 girls most of who call the network and its members, home and family respectively.

The GCN oversees more than 300 clubs where girls are sheltered and shielded from imminent HIV infection and eventual death, usually as victims of their blood relatives like fathers and brothers.

Ms. Makoni, makorokoto, amhlope – rambai makashinga. The world is watching and applauding.


Tuesday, August 15, 2006


He is here, he is performing and you just don’t know what you are missing.

Yes, the Lion of Zimbabwe, Thomas Tafirenyika “Mukanya” Mapfumo is in Toronto (the meeting place). He is here on the invitation of the organizers of the International AIDS Conference but he will also perform independently on Friday at the El Mocambo on College and Spadina in downtown TO.

But that is in the future. On Monday night he headlined the Strength of Africa Concert, which is part of the AIDS Conference’s side shows. I am not much of a music critique, but I will tell you this; the man had the several hundreds of revelers crammed at the small Harbourfront Theatre all dancing and singing along.

I know that many people had dismissed Mapfumo as a washed up old man. Well, the old man went ol’skool on Monday night and it was just fantastic.

You should have been there to witness the frenzy that followed after he hit the note “Zvandaive ndiri mwana mudiki, Mai vachandida…” Zimbabweans, Canadians and other people at the concert were soon dancing chinungu.

And that dancing girl, Loveness, she is just something!

But for someone resident in Toronto, it would be outright shameful if I were to finish this story without mentioning Soul Influence, the locally based Zimbabwean acapella troupe.

The girls are beautiful, soulful and their melodious voices just melted my heart. Lead singer, Dorothy Gettuba, not only does she claim ownership of the stage, she engages the audience with her teasing animation. The boys! Well, that bass, the tenors, what a fitting way to start off a concert that was rocking all the way until it ended and we had to go home reluctantly.

While Mapfumo is an experienced performer reclaiming his position at the top of African music, especially with his new album, Rise Up, there is a great future in Soul Influence. And I am glad to here that they have a new album in the works and possibly a DVD.

I will definitely be at El Mocambo on Friday night and I have purchased my copies of Mapfumo’s Rise Up and Soul Influence’s first album. If you haven’t bought yours, what are you waiting for?


Thursday, August 10, 2006


Here is a big stinker forwarded to me by a sister, Eunice Mafundikwa, who seems to know how to make me laugh until I am hurting all over.

The story below is actually an abridged version of a news report in the Financial Gazette in Zimbabwe, written by Kumbirai Mafunda. If it were not for Eunice, I would have missed it, and in that order, if it were not for this blog, some of you would have missed it.

A typographical error that replaced a "v" with a "d" on a menu item during President Robert Mugabe and his family's flight to the Far East last Friday, left a (for lack of a better word) horrible taste in the mouth.

President Mugabe and family were on a flight to China when they were handed a menu card where an item should have read Chimukuyu and Dovi (dried beef in peanut butter source), which is one of Mugabe's favorite dishes.

But there was a disastrous typo when a 'd' replaced the 'v' on 'dovi' to read dodi (faeces). Yummy, huh!!

The typo was discovered by Mugabe's young son, Robert Jr. See what happens when you insist on children reading everything carefully?

The national airline on Tuesday reacted to the embarrassing stinker by suspending four employees, Masi Gambanga, the cabin services manager, Victoria Munzara, the acting flight services officer, Chipo Sikireta the secretary to the senior flight operations manager and an unnamed worker who is employed in the reservations section.

Was that really necessary? I don't really think this stinker of a job was deliberate and I am certain the meal did not actually have poop in it.

I read a lot of Mugabe's speeches and despite that they would have gone through a lot of editing by many staffers and the president himself, fellow journalists will agree with me that we would find a typo here and there, but were those staffers suspended? Of course not.

I think transport minister, Chris Mushowe just over-reacted when he ordered the suspensions. But, thats just me!!!!!!!!


Wednesday, August 09, 2006


Some things we read about or see on television and we think, ah, they would never happen to us, or who ever was involved, deserved it.

I confess that I had thoughts like that when I saw Rodney King being beaten by four white police officers in Los Angeles more than a decade ago.

Well, I think differently now because a similar incident -not so much in scope and scale- happened closer to home.

Last month a Zimbabwean friend of mine found himself on the receiving end of two white Toronto police officers’ batons and booted feet, for trumped up charges, so he claims.

The case is now in court but my friend gave me permission to write about it as long as I do not reveal his name.

According to him, on the eve of Canada Day he received a call from his sister in the US about a family emergency back in Zimbabwe. He had to get in touch with the family rather urgently and he needed a long distance phone card to do that.

It was around midnight but he figured he could dash to the nearest convenience store and buy a card right then and so he went out, bought the card and started back to his apartment.

“I was walking along this lane when two people, a man and a woman, approached me rather aggressively. I tried to avoid them but they kept coming my way until I almost bumped into them. To avoid that I pushed the woman, who was closest to me, aside and passed them,” he said.

The couple turned to follow accusing him of assaulting the woman. Just then, a police car came round the corner and he flagged it down to seek protection from the increasingly aggressive couple.

The police car stopped and two officers got out. One came over to my friend while the other officer approached the couple.

“I was still explaining to the officer what had happened when the other one came towards us and informed me and his partner that the couple had accused me of demanding drugs from them,” my friend said.

He claimed that the officers, who had already released the couple before hearing his side of the story, started beating him up and kicking him. They looked at his identification papers and when they realized he was a refugee, they increased the beating.

‘What do you want in my country?’ one officer is said to have asked repeatedly as the other one added that they would make sure my friend was sent back to Zimbabwe.

When they were done, the officers called for an ambulance and the paramedics treated the guy right there but left him with the officers who then took him “downtown” for booking.

“At the station they claimed that I had resisted being arrested and they had to use force that was why I had cuts on my face and other places,” he told me.

He was charged with assault with intent to buy drugs and he spent the long Canada Day weekend in the slammer. He has a lawyer and his case is going through the court process.

Watch this space for updates to the case.



Torontoans love to have fun in the sun at the park. Among the most popular destinations are the islands on Lake Ontario. So, on Monday, my family and I and our dear long suffering friends, the Njobos and the Mlambos went off to wind down the long weekend on Centre Island.

As the kids frolicked in the sand and splashed in the numerous pools on the island, and our women shyly waded into knee-deep water, Njobo and I were wandering around looking for nothing in particular.

Our aimless walk-about was actually rewarded in a big way. We had a "stoney" surprise. We bumped into one of the several stone sculptures prominently positioned on the lush lawns.

“This looks very Zimbabwean,” said Njobo as we approached the magnificent figure of a beautiful African woman with a child made out of shiny black marble.

“Only those stone carvers back home can produce such an exquisite piece of art,” I agreed as we knelt down to read the small card nailed next to the sculpture.

And, lo behold, it was indeed a Zimbabwean work of art by one John Mutasa. What excitement that induced in us. All of a sudden what was beginning to look like a boring afternoon for the two of us was now exciting.

We searched around like kids on an Easter egg hunt and found at least two more sculptures by an M. Mamvura and there could be more. We were so proud to be Zimbabwean and we proudly showed our kids their heritage.

I don’t know about Njobo and others, but I have already declared to myself that I own part, no! parts of Centre Island on behalf of Zimbabwe, thanks to SaMutasa naVaMamvura and others.

Now, when anyone asks me where they can go and spend an afternoon, I direct them to "our" Centre Island and I make sure they undertake to marvel at our sculpture.