The colonists were so ignorant, they didn't understand Shona, so they didn't know what he was up to," Link explains.
Another aspect of Mapfumo's music was his use of the mbira, an instrument associated with Zimbabwe, spiritual practice, religious practice and the summoning of the spirits of departed ancestors, Link adds. "That itself is kind of a resistance to white Christian European hegemony," he notes."
Basically, he got a hit song and got very popular and people started paying attention to him. The government threw him into prison, banned his song from the radio. Because of his being imprisoned, there were large demonstrations. I'm not saying he was Nelson Mandela ... but the galvanizing influence of him being put in prison" was important in bringing together the black majority rule in Zimbabwe.
Mapfumo was released a few months later, and then, in 1980, Rhodesia became Zimbabwe and Mugabe took the reins of government. Mapfumo and performers such as Bob Marley and the Wailers performed in celebration of the end of colonial rule."Sadly, the new black government became corrupt before too long," Link says. "About 1990 or the end of the '80s, he put out an album that was anti-Mugabe, who is still in power and a very problematic figure. Then that government started going after Mapfumo" and he basically lives in exile in Oregon now, Link adds.
Mapfumo - thoughtful, a little wry sometimes, and, naturally, with strong opinions - took time to answer some questions in a telephone interview:
A-M: What was your first introduction to music?
TM: Well, when I started, I started with other people's music - people like Elvis Presley and Little Richard, and from England, The Beatles - the popular groups of the '60s. They helped me a lot to discover myself. that alone was very exciting to me.
A-M: When did decide to devote your life to music, and why?
TM: I was a musician from the beginning. I never worked in other jobs. I started in music. I loved music from (an) early age. That's the story - I'm just a musician.
A-M: What is the challenge for you of being a musician?
TM: Yeah, being a musician, you face a lot of competition, a lot of challenges. Like you have to write good songs, songs with good messages that people can understand, that can make people go out and buy your music. That message is very, very important to my music.
A-M: What is the good side of music for you, the up side, the positive aspect?
TM: There's a lot of excitement in playing music. When you play music, you travel a lot, meet a lot of different musicians, make friends out there. This is very good for me.
A-M: Is your music the same in its sound and lyrics now as it was in 1977?
TM: Yeah, because it's still the same story - the music is all about freedom and justice. ... A lot of politicians overlook these issues. They need to be addressed by musicians.There are a lot of people suffering in this world. Like now, the poor (stay) to the poor and the rich (stay) to the rich. It's not good enough. (The rich) must be seen as leaders of the world. These are people with a lot of money, people with mansions and big houses - and people are sleeping on the streets. This is not good enough.
A-M: What can Danville audiences expect from your performance Monday?
TM: They can expect a lot of African styles in our music. It's going to be edgy. We're not a band which concentrates on one style. We have so many styles. We can also play reggae style. ... We mostly play Zimbabwean style.
A-M: What music do you listen to these days?
TM: I listen to a lot of music, as long as it is good music with a good message. I listen to that music. Mostly there are some favorite artists who actually I listen to. Bob Marley, who is one of my favorites. ... A lot of upcoming youngsters in music today. I also listen to hip-hop stuff and things like that, but they're mostly interested in people who sing about love and loving girlfriends. We have problems we are facing in this world - why don't we sing about that. ... The world is not moving in the right direction. There are so many problems that need to be addressed by musicians.
A-M: Where do you see your music evolving in five years? Where do you want it to go?
TM: It is still changing right now. I've grown to be an old man and my music is still improving every day.