Saturday, December 13, 2008

Zimbabwe: From Botswana with Hope

The political and economic crisis in Zimbabwe has provided Botswana performers and musicians with an unexpected source of inspiration. Artists from neighboring countries are finding musical ways of showing their support for Zimbabwe's citizens. Botswana's top 2 selling artists have released CDs containing messages of hope. Voice of America English to Africa Service reporter Martin Ngwenya says that during the liberation struggle in South Africa, artists in many countries across the African continent contributed by motivating and encouraging the masses.

Musicians like Mzwakhe Mbuli, the late Miriam Makeba and Lucky Dube inspired millions during apartheid. It seems a similar, although smaller, phenomenon is underway regarding the unfolding situation in Zimbabwe. As the country's economic and political landscape remains uncertain, increasing numbers of artists in Botswana are singing about the fortitude and strength of Zimbabwe's people.

Kwaito-kwasa star Odirile 'Vee' Sento recently released a CD titled "Setimela", which means train. It contains the song, "Zvichanaka" a Shona word for "It will be fine". The performer asks why people watch as Zimbabweans suffer. Vee muses that while life is tough in Zimbabwe now, it won't always be that way. His fellow countryman and leading kwasa kwasa artist, Frank 'Franco' Lesokwane, has dedicated his song 'Zimbabwe' to those suffering in the neighboring country. Franco says he's been deeply affected by the crisis. He's appealing to Africa to assist the troubled nation.

Zimbabweans, says Franco, don't deserve to be treated with disdain or phobia. He sympathizes with the hordes of Zimbabweans who cross into neighboring countries to seek a living, only to be ridiculed. Both songs' lyrics are written in Shona. Fans say the 2 tracks contain messages of hope and inspiration.

Myron Nyathi, a Zimbabwean living in Botswana, compares the current situation to the days of the liberation struggle when musicians like Chinx Chingaira and Thomas Mapfumo motivated fighters. Both Sento and Franco have performed in Zimbabwe. They hope their latest offerings will endear them to the Zimbabwean people even further.

By: Published with the permission of Voice of America
Published by Mike Hitchen, Mike Hitchen Consulting
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This blog will be on holiday from Dec 15 2008 -Jan 12 2009!