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Mukanya Gig — And the Lion Roared for the First time in 14 Years

An unassuming big crowd gathered at the Glamis Arena, obviously to watch the greatest musical export Zimbabwe has ever produced, Thomas Mukanya Mapfumo – But none could have foretold what they witnessed.

That Mukanya left Zimbabwe in his 50s only to return in his old 70s made others assume this was more of a sentimental gig than it was real entertainment.

70 years is an advanced age for any artist and expecting a longer performance from such is deemed ridiculous.

But Mukanya defied the laws, he defied his age. Dr Mapfumo went on stage a few minutes after 2 Am, our watch said 0208 am.

As the band played, eyes were glued to the huge stage gazing from left to right in anticipation of the lion that was about to emerge and roar for the first time in 14 years.

Out came the lion clad in all black with his long dreadlocks let loose from the same black floppy festival hat… And the lion roared his first word ‘Zimbabwe….’

The Roar was loud and The crowd went into delirium.

Once the crowd had settled, it was a Mukanya show, he placed his foot on the acceleration pedal and as we would later discover, this was not an ordinary artist.

We had missed him, he had missed us.

The night’s setlist was taken from a catalogue that contains hits after hits, anything that he played was loved.

But there were exceptions, whilst he played favourites like Bhutsu Mutandarikwa, Mugarandega, Jekiseni.

Loud cheers and deafening sing-alongs belonged to songs like ‘Pidigori ‘Waenda’, Nyoka Musango’ and ‘Chauya Chauya.’

For Pidigori, as another fan explained the loud cheers to Zimbuzz, was a fulfilment of the demise of former President Mr Mugabe. (he recited the lyrics to us as he made his point ‘Pidigori Waenda anga achinyanya kuvhaira’)

But again there was another special moment…another Dr, Oliver Mtukudzi joined Mukanya on the stage as the two danced to Nyoka Musango. It was special.

But the icing was on the new song Chauya Chauya, which was leaked onto the black market the past week and we wrote about it.

The song is a timely reminder to Zimbabweans to fully exercise their constitutional right to vote.

The reception to the song was massive, it did not sound like a new song, as again sons and daughters sang along to it.

The song got a rare attention, as Mukanya would play it again as he neared the end of his set. perhaps he wanted the message of elections to really hit home.

The memorable moment…

Like we said earlier, Mukanya went on stage at around 0208 am, our expectation, understandably so was that he would go for something under two hours..

He left the stage at around 6 am. And he still was sounding as good as the minute he started, in fact, he was gaining strength by the hour.

The master was delivering a lifelong lesson to a generation that it trying to make it in this concrete jungle of music.

The crowd was shocked, it was unbelievable that for a man, 72 years of age, he can drag on to such lengths.

The explanation…

Somewhat sensing the confusion on the faces of some fans, another dreadlocked elder in the VIP section approached this reporter to give an explanation of what was happening.

“Young man you are a journalist right,” he asked this Zimbuzz reporter. “Yes Baba I am,” this reporter replied.

“What is the name of this gig,” he asked rhetorically before he answered himself.

“Its called Thomas Mukanya Mapfumo Welcome back Bira, Now by rule, every BIRA will only end after the SUN has risen,” he tried to demystify the occurrence.

“So don’t be shocked by this long performance, he is doing exactly what you asked him to do, that’s how a BIRA is conducted.

We waited, but our wait was that of anxiety more than it was enjoyment.

And true his words, as soon as the sun was showing signs of struggle as it tried to hatch itself from the dark clouds, Mukanya sang Chamunorwa..and then another …By that time the sun was now visible.

He didn’t give a farewell, he just turned his back and walked away…And History was made. We were part of it. Entertainment Republic Made it Possible

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