Politics In Zimbabwe Has A New Soundtrack

Zinzile Majola, 27-year-old singer of Friends Band, says it felt like a window opening when Mugabe left. “It actually gave us more confidence that things would change from now on, from the way they were, from the way they used to be,” Majola says.

Music and politics have always been intertwined, from “Yankee Doodle” to “A Change is Gonna Come.” And that’s true in Zimbabwe, too — a country that is now facing a historic political transition.

In the 1960s and ’70s, when the country was still known as Rhodesia, black nationalists fought a bloody war to overthrow white minority rule. At the concert celebrating the country’s new independence in 1980, Bob Marley performed his song “Zimbabwe,” singing, “Every man got a right to decide his own destiny.”

Zimbabwean artist Thomas Mapfumo rallied the people of his country with his song, “Tumira Vana Kuhondo,” which translates to “Mothers Send Your Children to War.” And Zimbabwean psychedelic rock band Wells Fargo had a hit with a song called, “Watch Out.” It made the band famous, but it also got its members into trouble.

“We had to sit down and change the lyrics to soften them up a bit,” Wells Fargo co-founder Ebba Chitambo, now 66, says with a broad smile and close-cropped white hair. The first version of the song was banned on the radio.

“The chorus was straight and direct: ‘Watch out, freedom is coming,'” Chitambo says. “So, police came to one of our gigs and knocked us around. We had to change it to, ‘Watch out, big storm is coming.'” That was enough to keep the authorities happy, even if everyone knew the “big storm” was freedom.

Ebba Chitambo, the 66-year-old co-founder of Wells Fargo, now…

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