The Sunday Mail
“MUKANYA woye, Mukanya woye,” echoed chants across the foyers of the Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport on Wednesday evening as fans welcomed the legend who is back home after 14 years in the USA.
He is Zimbabwe’s music icon, the legendary Dr Thomas “Mukanya” Mapfumo.
People had driven to the airport in the dead of the night. It was 9pm and the airport was packed.
Indeed, an important person was coming to town.
The atmosphere was pregnant with ecstasy. Everyone at the airport was in a bubbly mood, with some going a step further and dancing to the music in their heads.
Those who had been on the same flight with Mukanya boasted of pictures they had taken with the legend.
The sight of the legendary musician became the highlight of Independence Day.
“I am really excited to have Mukanya return and perform in the country after a very long time. This guy is a legend and there are few artistes who can match the standards he has set in music,” said Victor Kunonga’s drummer, Denis Mushaishi, who was part of the crowd at the airport.
As the immigration team delayed releasing Mukanya by about 90 minutes, waiting for all the other passengers to leave the premises first, signs of agitation started creeping in, resulting in some people pushing and shoving.
Airport security intervened by shutting doors at the arrivals section and releasing Mukanya from the less congested Departures Zone.
However, with the 14-year wait finally over, Mukanya’s handlers unsuccessfully attempted to smuggle him out of the airport.
The fans quickly discovered this and rushed to welcome the 72-year-old legend, who was all smiles.
“I touched him,” shouted a jubilant teenager, Tatenda Chasara, adding, “I’m so excited, I grew up listening to Mukanya’s music as my dad is a big fan and now I am hooked too. I can’t wait for the concert.”
After a few photo moments and interviews, Mukanya was then guided to a waiting car where the driver of the vehicle could not immediately take off as the crowd mobbed the automobile, demanding to have more pictures taken with their icon.
Finally, after a few more minutes, Mukanya’s entourage drove away and peace was restored at the airport.
One of the artistes performing at the Big Bira, Gary Tight, was also at the airport.
He said he has to up his game.
“For some weeks now we have been preparing for this concert but after what we saw at the airport on Wednesday night, we have since gone back to the drawing board to make sure that we polish up our act,” said Gary Tight, through his manager Godfrey “Vokal” Bakasa.
He added: “I have been at the airport on a number of occasions when international artistes come through but I have never seen anything close to what I saw on Wednesday. I believe this will be a very big concert and we are working hard to ensure that when we perform, people will see that we were included on the line-up by merit.”
Another act performing at the concert is Winky D.
He shared similar sentiments through his manager.
“This concert is a special one where two uplifting forces will be meeting,” said Winky D’s manager, Jonathan Banda.
“When Chimurenga music began, it was used to uplift the spirits of the then freedom fighters — fighting to liberate Zimbabwe and today we celebrate our independence. Winky D’s music has also been used by the ghetto youths to uplift their spirits in the face of a tough economic climate that has plagued the country since the early 2000s.
“So come the day, it’s going to be a celebration of these unifying factors with an audience of the young and the old. We are looking forward to having a great time,” revealed Banda.
Oliver Mtukudzi’s manager, Walter Wanyanya, was also at the airport to welcome the legend.
“The atmosphere at the airport was amazing. It showed that people are excited about Mukanya and for them to drive out in the evening is really special,” he said.
“We are hoping that the levels of excitement we witnessed at the airport will be carried over to the Glamis Arena on the day of the Big Bira. This concert will celebrate Zimbabwean music and as Tuku Muzik, we are looking forward to it,” added Wanyanya.