By Blessing Masakadza
Veteran Chimurenga musician Thomas “Mukanya” Mapfumo, pictured, is a man of straight talk and his sharp tongue has created buzz around his persona.
Mukanya has always made his feelings known.
His songs, described as protest music, is blunt: It speaks back to authorities and keeps checks and balances on society ills.
His popular songs like Corruption, Mamvemve and Matsotsi are testimony to his openness when dealing with issues.
He is never too shy to express in song what he feels and rarely sing using proverbs or hidden parables.
Mukanya always calls a spade a spade!
The music star has been living in the United States for close to 15 years only returning home last year, with his first performance being in April 2018.
Mukanya returned again for the much touted Peace Tour at the end of last year which has had mixed fortunes for both the musician and his promoter.
But it is his continued stay in Zimbabwe that has seen him touching nerves as he passes comments on fellow musicians.
The last time when he was in the country he gave our sister paper, the Daily News, an interview.
In that interview, he expressed his reservations about President Emmerson Mnangagwa and his government.
At the time, the army had just toppled former president Robert Mugabe.
He was frank and to the point saying he expects good leaders to rule Zimbabwe and not matsotsi (thieves).
The musician has had no kind words for Zimdancehall saying they lack originality and that they should stop imitating Jamaican dancehall musicians.
He has however shared the stage with some of them like Freeman, Lady Squanda and Kinnah.
“I don’t hate them at all. I am actually happy to share the stage with youngsters but they need to be original,” he was quoted in the media.
Mukanya, speaking on national television after the death of superstar Oliver Mtukudzi said he and the late were the only internationally recognised musicians, with the likes of Alick Macheso just performing up to England and not beyond.
“Vanoziikanwa chete ndini na Oliver, vamwe avo vana Macheso vanogumira kunana England…” (Oliver and I are the only internationally known musicians and the likes of Macheso reach England),” he said in a video clip rant that circulated online.
This attracted widespread criticism with people online saying he could have made his point without naming any artiste.
Several people including musicians Jah Prayzah and Carlos Green blasted Mukanya for singling out Macheso’s name.
Others, however, believe Mukanya was being honest and local musicians should work hard to improve their international standing and appeal as he came out explaining his position saying it was not a dig at Macheso but advice to him and his handlers.
“His people are doing him a disservice. They should explore further in countries such as America where we play. A foreigner told me that he is the best bass guitarist. They should go further to countries such as Sweden and Belgium and this is where I said Oliver and I played. It does not help playing for Zimbabweans outside the country. At festivals you play for multiracial people and that way you raise the country’s flag high,” he thundered.
However, people can be forgiven for taking Mukanya to task, bashing his opinion on others. The music star has been away for too long and the local showbiz scene has changed because today Macheso is a household name in the country and his fans were sure to fight for him and protect his brand.
As if the Macheso issue was not enough, the Chimurenga guru appeared in yet another video which has since started circulating with Mukanya making remarks towards dancehall star Winky D.
Mapfumo said it is not correct that Winky D can outdo the likes of Beenie Man.
While the local media usually run with stories purporting that a particular Zimbabwean musician had out performed foreign acts, Mukanya is of the opinion that this should not be misread as being above them.
He says he laughs at such reports each time they come out, saying people do not have actual knowledge of the people they will be talking about. He said the two (Winky D and Beenie Man) cannot be compared as the likes of Beenie Man are the veterans in the genre.
While Mapfumo is correct in his statements, his approach of dragging someone’s name has been condemned; hence the backlash from Winky D’s fans.
Like I alluded earlier, Mapfumo has been away for too long and he might not be aware of how Winky D’s music and brand has grown.
Winky D can upstage Beenie Man on a good day because the singer is a star whom local fans identify with. He has also managed to break several barriers with his music playing on several television channels such as Trace and BBC.
I remember speaking to Winky D and he told me that when foreign musicians come to the country, unlike popular belief that he will be there for competition, his goal will be to learn from them.DailyNews