Mukanya Mapfumo was honoured with a World Music Award at the 2018 Globalfest Awards in New York

Written by on 21 May 2016

Zimbabwean musician ‘Mukanya’ Mapfumo was honoured with a World Music Award at the 2018 Globalfest Awards in New York at the weekend.

“We are elated by this global recognition and it is a testimony of the impact and illustrious artistry work of a career spanning four decades,” Mapfumo’s publicist, Blessing Ivan Vava, said. “Undoubtedly, Mukanya has endeared himself as one of the finest musicians to come out of Zimbabwe.”

According to the Globalfest website, the awards are designed “to celebrate artists who excel in the small but crucial global music field in the US, too often with little recognition”.

Globalfest presents awards to artists and members of the field who have been instrumental in making significant, longstanding contributions to the performing arts landscape in the US, it said.

Vava said Mapfumo had dedicated the award to the people of Zimbabwe “for their resilience over the years despite the difficulties they have been going through”.

“Over the years Mukanya’s compositions could be interpreted with narratives predicting the future of Zimbabwe. The raspy, staccato, smoothly and deep voice of Mapfumo refuses to be bowed, to be bought and remains pointed against all forms of oppression,” Vava said.

In a written speech read by Chimurenga Music Company manager Austin Sibanda at the awards ceremony, Mapfumo said he felt touched by the recognition.

“It is such a humbling experience to be fished out of a maze of global musicians and be recognised with such a powerful award before such an amazing audience,” he said. “We have come a long way from Zimbabwe to be here. Our chimurenga music has evolved so much but has stayed hooked to the core values of peace and justice.

“The music journey has been fraught with challenges but the same music has given us hope for the social change we believe in. It has not been an easy tour to fight for freedom and social justice in a situation where the music stage could find itself next to men in dark glasses awaiting the last song before sad action starts.”

Mapfumo urged musicians in the diaspora to soldier on. “Let us all keep singing from our various corners for our music to be heard in faraway lands. My chimurenga brand of music keeps going among various political challenges and threats, but it’s that hurdle that becomes the energy booster. Music should stay relevant and interesting not only to entertain – it must also educate, inform and empower the people.”

Mapfumo, whose music caught the attention of former president Robert Mugabe through the song ‘Hokoyo’ (Watch Out), fled Zimbabwe for the US in 2005 after becoming a target of government harassment. Despite leaving the country, his music gained momentum and was deemed a threat to Mugabe’s regime.

There are rumours that Mapfumo will perform in Zimbabwe for the first time in more than a decade this year.

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