Once you hear a song like “Maruza Imi” and “Vapambi vePfumi” by Cde Chinx, or Dr Thomas Mapfumo’s “Pfumvu Paruzevha” and “Zimbabwe Yevatema”, you can never forget it.
These are the songs that inspired a country’s liberation, providing both the masses and freedom fighters much needed morale to stand for what was right in the face of a tough enemy. And on April 18, 1980, after years of bloodshed, Zimbabwe gained Independence.
Rufaro Stadium, the venue of the festivities from April 17 into the 18th, burst to life as arguably the greatest reggae icon to ever walk this earth sang a song of freedom.
Thirty seven years on, Zimbabwe has not lost its tradition of using music, dance and other forms of entertainment to mark its Independence. The April 18 parties started last Thursday and they will continue well into Independence week.
Turbulence & Mega Banton
Just as it was 37 years ago, reggae music takes centre stage at Glamis Arena in Harare where top Jamaican artistes Turbulence and Mega Banton headline the Independence Eve Gala.
The gig is hosted by Red Fox Family International and Yard 1 Promote.
Andy Muridzo, Soul Jah Love, Snipper, Boom Beto, Blot, Progress Chipfumo, Ricky Fire, Garry B and Templeman are among some of the local acts that will take to the stage. The show will be the final leg of the One Unity, One Reggae Tour that was scheduled to start on Friday in Kwekwe, with the second gig taking place yesterday in Bulawayo.
Speaking to The Sunday Mail Leisure, Red Fox Family International boss Robert Zhuwao said the Harare leg – the main gig of the tour – was being held on Independence eve because of the significance of the day to Zimbabweans and Africans.
“We chose to host this gala on the eve of Independence Day for the benefit of our born-frees who never experienced the euphoria of Bob Marley when he performed in the country in 1980,” said Zhuwao.
“We want to bring that history back, that Zimbabwe and Jamaica were tied by that performance and that is what brought reggae music into Zimbabwe.
“To this day, we have reggae music, reggae-dancehall, which we have been pushing as Red Fox for seven years, and that has basically become the genre of choice for the new generation.
“My feeling was that if the new generation was gravitating towards reggae-dancehall, so why not try and honour the history of where it all started?”
He said they had chosen Turbulence and Mega Banton because they wanted seasoned acts rather than mere commercial artistes.
“We were not going for the commercial bit of the industry but rather depth because if you look at Mega Banton, he is a well-accomplished artiste who has been on the scene since the ‘90s.
“Turbulence has been here before. We thought he would be a good act to bring back because when he came he gave a good account of himself but he did not use a band. So we thought it proper for him to perform with a band because I have seen his performances with a live band and they are very good.”
Zhuwao added that they had organised gigs in other cities to give reggae fans in those places the opportunity to see international acts of that calibre live on stage.
Main Event @ the NSS
As is the norm, Harare’s massive National Sports Stadium is the focal point when it comes to Independence Day celebrations.
While some events are taking place tomorrow, thousands of people are set to invade Zimbabwe’s largest sports venue where the main Independence Day celebrations take place on Tuesday.
One of the biggest artistes in the land, Alick Macheso, will headline the event.
There will also be a lot of other entertainment on the day.
Dendera in Canada
The celebrations are not confined to Zimbabwe. Dendera torchbearer Suluman Chimbetu was yesterday expected to perform in Canada at a gig dubbed Zimbabwe 37th Independence Celebration.
This is not the first time he has held a gig celebrating Independence abroad, having done a similar show in Botswana last year.
In an interview last week, Chimbetu’s publicist Joe Local said they had gone to Canada to celebrate Zimbabwe’s Independence with their fans in North America.
“This is a special day for every Zimbabwean, which is why we saw it fit to also come and celebrate with other Zimbabweans who are based in this part of the world,” said Joe Local.
Sista Flame on Fire
Tomorrow’s Jam Session at City Sports Bar in Harare will be exciting not only because it is a ladies’ affair on stage, but also because it will be an Independence celebration with the tagline “Be in Deep and Dance with the Divas”.
Some of the artistes taking to the stage are Lady Storm, Sista Flame, Amanda Manyowa, Faith Candy, Tete Pipilo, Lindsa, Zoey and Bev.
“I am always humbled when I am invited to come and perform alongside other talented female artistes especially for a gig that is meant to celebrate our Independence,” said Sista Flame.
Spin masters and Burnouts
They might be born-frees, but these youthful entertainers have decided to bring their own flair to the celebrations accompanying this special holiday.
Harare’s Borrowdale Racecourse will be a hive of activity tomorrow afternoon with what has been dubbed the Blowout, a celebration of the urban lifestyle of souped up cars and loud music.
Some of the DJs on the decks include The Family 263, Judgement Yard, Iroq, Storm, Raydizz, D Nosh, Chucknosis and Reverb 7.
So whether you are at the National Sports Stadium, blessing it up with Mega Banton and Turbulence, rocking away outside Zimbabwe, grooving at City Sports Bar, spinning the wheels at Borrowdale, or anywhere else this holiday, go ahead and do the Indepen-dance.
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