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Farewell to Zimbabwe

posted 29 Aug 2011, 00:58 by Robert McLaren   [ updated 29 Aug 2011, 01:10 ]


Last night I bade farewell to many of my friends and associates in Zimbabwe with a rollicking hootnannie. My performance of “Mzansi: Songs of My Country – Songs of South Africa” was followed by an Open Mic session in which people in the audience performed whatever they wanted to – these included three wildly applauded and participated in popular numbers by the well-known Zimbabwean music star, David Chifunyise.

With about 25 people, including children, packed into a make-shift theatre – originally my sitting room/dining room/Ethiopian lounge – the energy and fun was way up there as we began with a children’s naming game so as to get to know each other and then the famous “Dudu mduri” – a Shona game which also familiarises people as to who is who.

In the audience was Chipo Mashingaidze, with whom I had performed “Between the Congo and the Fish”, and she showed she had not forgotten much as she joined me in many of the songs. People really got down on the Tikkiedraai medlay of Cape dancing songs and the shebeen numbers, including that great township number, “Meadowlands”. Even the children could follow the story of the music of the peoples of South Africa, going right back to a hymn to the Zulu supreme deity, Mvelingqangi, the story of Nongqause and those very poignant songs of migrant workers, travelling to the mines in Johannesburg, their experiences underground and their worries about the families they left behind.

The Open Mic session was great, with lots of songs and dances, of all kinds, with some rumbustious gospel, some golden oldies and lovely presentations by the children, including Chipo’s daughter, Lerato, who showed us the mbhakumba traditional dance she had learnt at school.

And the CHIPAWO media team was there to film it with Farai Kuzvidza behind the camera. Farai is the creator and director of the popular children’s television show, ‘Nde’ipi gen’a’ – “What’s up, gang!’

It was midnight by the time everyone began trooping home. There was no water but the electricity came back after a whole day just in time for the show – so we were able to have the slides and people could get the words and sing more vigorously. A typically Zimbabwean evening, as I remarked – for ten years Zimbabweans have been making things happen against all the odds and with very few resources. Oyee, Zimbabwe!

And so goodbye – but that we shall meet again, over and over again, I am sure.