Mapfumo the ‘cow’

Robert Mukondiwa
In his first official visit to what would eventually be Christened planet earth around 4,5 billion years ago, God came to earth for six days creating all we know today.

On the seventh day He rested.

He has never been known to have come back on an official visit to this wretched planet to this day.

His son did though. Yes. Jesus, in around 5 BC, 2023 years ago, also paid a visit to the planet. He resided on it, with his godly beauty for the next 33 years until some band of assassins killed the spawn of God

Inevitably He left. Who wouldn’t?

Fast forward to 2004. Thomas Tafirenyika Mapfumo decided to leave. Unlike God and Jesus, he did not leave the planet. Just a patch of it called Zimbabwe and he went to another place called America. There, he professed the food to be good. “The food is good in America,” he bellowed with his trademark night-time lion like roar of a voice.

(Technically, because of his omnipotence and the symbiosis of God and Jesus, they still are on earth, just not on an official State visit!).

And for the next 14 years no one saw Mapfumo in his home country

These are powerful beings, all three of them. Although their power is invariably different.

When God left after only a six-day visit, people, who had not been on the planet when He visited, created an orderly following and still worship Him millenniums after He left the planet. They never forgot him.

Jesus. After just a 33-year visit, has perhaps millions of denominations of churches and billions of followers in His wake who still follow him, living, dead and yet to be born. They never lived in His time but they love him like they knew Him or he lived in the time of their mothers and fathers. He didn’t

Socialite Munyaradzi Mitchell Gumbo weeps with joy as musician Thomas Mapfumo performs for the first time on home soil in 14 years

So when it was suggested that someone who was in Zimbabwe in our time only 14 years ago was returning, the fact that some people felt Thomas Mapfumo could have been forgotten, the sane amongst us only knew that only moronic reasoning could sound thus.

If mankind “remembers” beings that they never saw. Who came onto this planet millions of years perhaps before they trod on this patch, how could they forget Mukanya? A god of traditional Zimbabwean music? Whose music founds the fibre that constitutes the Zimbabwean artistic fabric? How could they forget Mukanya?

Would there be a need for the promoters to even “promote” the show? Would there be a need for the geniuses in the information department to even print a single poster to market a god of the arts? Unless someone suffered serious dementia, nobody would have the human ability to forget Thomas Mapfumo or his music

But, believe it or not that was passed around. That perhaps he could have been a forgotten person by the current generation.

That the show perhaps would flop.

How wrong they were!

What can we equate Mukanya to? Well, let me give you an example.

The year is circa 1986. There is a cow, more appropriately a handsome bull on television. He is a Brahman breed. Accompanying an advert from the then strong brand called the Cold Storage Commission. This cow. Cattle. Bull. Is called Samson. And the pay-off line says “Good meat speaks for itself”…nyama inonaka inotaura yega. Yes, Samson the bull could speak.

Mukanya is like that bull. One that does not need advertising. One that speaks for itself. Like  good steak and good meat.

So Mukanya may have been equated to a primate or monkey because of his totem Soko and also a lion because of his bellow and grandeur. Yet last weekend at Glamis Arena it was also appropriate to say like a mombe, Mukanya advertised himself and proved the critics hare-brained and dismally wrong if the sheer numbers of those who were there are anything to go by.

The place was filled. Packed to the rafters. Not by the old and weary who supposedly “know” Mukanya but by millennials who have a bare and distant acquaintance to the lion of Zimbabwe and his protest music

Socialite Munyaradzi Mitchell Gumbo wept when Mukanya roared “Yahwe iwe!”. Claire Zimbizi consoled him. They were tears of joy.

Gumbo may look older than his birth certificate suggests, bless him, but he was never desk-mates with Mukanya at school. He was here because Mukanya is a huge legend that nobody can ever forget.

And the crowd all went through memory lane, passing all the nooks and crevices of it all and relived the history of Zimbabwean protest and social life in song until the wee hours of the morning.

But the phenomenon went beyond just humans. The full moon stubbornly refused to go down. It didn’t want to set. It also wanted to be a part of the record breaking history-making show by Entertainment Republic and Mukanya. It also wanted to prove the naysayers wrong.

In the end Mukanya had too much energy in him and the sun eventually purged the moon out of the sky.

And as the sun broke the hymen of the virgin day, finally Mukanya agreed to get off the stage after a scintillating four-hour odyssey which had unravelled magically before a record-breaking Glamis Arena crowd

Whoever said Mukanya had been forgotten needed to live the life of a drone and hover above the record crowds, to smell the sweat of many thousand armpits that graced the venue.

And as Nigel Pfunde ably put it, that journalist with a knack for wit, Mukanya had not been forgotten. It is the naysayers who had forgotten that legends do not die.

Just as good writers can never be rid of their good writing; like we still study and remember Shakespeare despite him having died aeons ago, good musicians like Mukanya can never be forgotten. But it takes a good writer, and a good ear to know that inalienable truth.

All hail Thomas Mapfumo, the cow, who like Samson, need not be reintroduced to the world.

A toast to the immortal legend of Mukanya!

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