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Zimbabwe: "We Are Still Here Ambuya"

AfricaFocus Bulletin
Dec 10, 2003 (031210)
(Reposted from sources cited below)

Editor's Note

"We Are Still Here Ambuya," sings mbira player and activist Machingura in his new CD released recently in Berkeley, California. Linking struggles for social justice in Zimbabwe, the United States, and around the world, Machingura's music-making in California follows on his experience as vocalist in Harare's Luck Street Blues band in the late 1990s. It has also led to his selection as one of six "Artist Ambassadors" for the World Social Forum in Mumbai, India in January. He follows in a rich tradition of Zimbabwean musicians whose music has both reflected and inspired their people's quest for justice.

This issue of AfricaFocus Bulletin features words from the title track of Machingura's "We Are Still Here," along with a link to download the song or order the CD. It also features a selection of links to introduce the reader to the rich world of Zimbabwean music online, with reviews, downloads, background articles, and more.


++++++++++++++++++++++end editor's note+++++++++++++++++++++++

MACHINGURA - Singer, Songwriter, Activist

Machingura is a Zimbabwean mbira player and global justice activist living in Berkeley, California since 1999, He is a Steering Committee member of Health GAP and Priority Africa Network and a member of the Interim Steering Committee of the Zim-friends Association in California. A regular performer at cultural and political events in the Bay Area, he has just released his first CD. The words of the title track are below.


Music and words by P. Machingura

Title track from new CD "We Are Still Here" - available for free download from the Machingura website [] The CD can also be ordered through the website.

You'd not believe it Mbuya Nehanda*
After all this time
Not much has changed

There are rivers everywhere
Not a place is there to bathe
They wage war and call it peace
Your land is drenched in red

With today's technology
We produce more than we need
And yet throughout this living earth
There is so much poverty

We spent longer hours at work
But our paychecks continue to shrink
The kids are alone at home
Being brought up by network TV

You would not believe it Mbuya Nehanda

The more things change
The more they remain the same
The more things change
The more they remain the same
Ain't that strange
I think it's strange
It's all so strange

There are rivers everywhere
Not a drop is there to drink
The gov'ment that sought my vote
No longer represents me

Public airwaves are colonized
Freedom of speech demonized
Ignorance and hatred
Are the seeds they sow

Our taxes buy guns and missiles
Don't have no money to hire teachers
Forget about schools and books
We've got prisons and more police

You would not believe it Mbuya Nehanda


But despair not Ambuya
We are still here Ambuya
Your bones your spirit
Working night and day
For a world with justice
But no, we won't forget

They hanged you in Salisbury
They killed Martin Luther King
Murdered Mahatma Ghandi

But oh little did they know
That in every corner of the world
Your spirit would rise
Your spirit would rise

And now here we are Ambuya
Tatekeshera nenyika yese
[we are to be found all over the world]
Kumabvazuva nekumadokera
[from the east to the west]
From the north to the south

Oh Ambuya hear us
Hear your children singing

Haiyai hondendee
Haiyai hondendee

* Ancestral spirit "Grandmother" Nehanda. The woman who was her medium in the late nineteenth century inspired Zimbabwean resistance to European conquest in 1896-97, and was hanged by the British in 1898. She is famed for her saying that "my bones will rise again."

General Sites on Zimbabwean Music

Dandemutande: Zimbabwean Music Worldwide

Includes catalog, free downloads, and extensive resource guide to other resources.

Music of Zimbabwe: Zimbabwean Music Guide

Artists' profiles, album listings, sample downloads, and a primer with background on traditional and contemporary instruments and genres

Zimbabwean Music Festival

Zimfest 2003, the "largest annual gathering in North America of students, teachers, performers, and fans of Zimbabwean music" took place from August 8-10 in Portland, Oregon.

The Music of Zimbabwe

Essays, some lyrics, translations from publications by Alice Dadirai Kwaramba.

Individual Musicians

Thomas Mapfumo and the Blacks Unlimited

Oliver Mtukudzi and the Black Spirits

Brief excerpt from interview with Oliver Mtukudzi

by Meron Tesfa Michael, April 4, 2003

World Press Review: Your albums are known for your lyrics that deal with social and economic issues in Zimbabwe. What are the problems that preoccupy you most, and your suggested remedies?

Mtukudzi: My lyrics have always been drawn from people and their day-to-day issues - not just their difficulties but also their humor, happiness, irony. I may reflect more on those issues that touch me in some way, but my lyrics tend to highlight people?s values and I guess I reinforce the more positive ones. I also like to challenge customs and behavior that encourage greed and selfishness, and I am very conscious of the disparities in our society, especially where women's rights are concerned. As far as Zimbabwe is concerned, we are living in a very divisive society right now, so these days I sing about the need for peace, unity and tolerance.

World Press Review: If you had to distill all your work into just one song about Zimbabwe, to convey a message to the world, what would the message be?

Mtukudzi: For several years now, Zimbabwe has been a major focal point for the regional and international press. The message I would most like to convey to my listeners is that there are so many major catastrophes facing the African continent right now (like the AIDS pandemic, famine, etc.) that it is frustrating to witness governments that have been voted into power by the people spending so much time, energy, and often scarce resources on issues of conflict and power.

As a person who is recognized within my community, I feel a really strong sense of responsibility to be the kind of role model who promotes the right things. Peace and democracy are such critical factors in building a healthy society and yet our politicians seem obsessed with party politics, and corruption is eroding every sector of society.

Key Sites for More African Music Resources

AfroPop Worldwide

The site for the public radio show and much more, including interviews, song downloads for 99 cents each and a weekly e-mail newsletter on African music.

Putumayo World Music

One of the leading world music labels.

AfricaFocus Bulletin is a free independent electronic publication providing reposted commentary and analysis on African issues, with a particular focus on U.S. and international policies. AfricaFocus Bulletin is edited by William Minter.

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