BY MOSES MUGUGUNYEKI
Chimurenga music maestro Thomas “Mukanya” Mapfumo says he is setting up an arts and culture centre in Domboshava on the outskirts of Harare as part of his departure from the mainstream music industry, which he has served for many decades.
Last year Mukanya, on his 75th birthday, exclusively shared his retirement plan with this publication, saying he would now devote most of his time imparting musical knowledge to up-and-coming musicians, particularly the young.
Early this month, the US-based musician on his birthday had this to say: “I am 76-years-old today (July 3, 2021) and looking back at my life, I can honestly say that I have been extremely blessed to have lived a full life,” Mukanya said in a statement.
“I have managed to make a living out of my God-given gift, seen the world and lived long enough to see my children grow. Ndinotenda Mwari nemudzimu vandisvitsa pandiri nhasi. (I thank God and all my ancestral spirits for having taken me this far.) I also thank my fans for always supporting me — God bless you all and thank you for the love! ”
Mukanya was born on July 3, 1945 making him one of the oldest living musicians in the country.
During one of his interviews on a tour of the country under the Peace Tour organised by Entertainment Republic in 2019, Mukanya hinted at retiring at the age of 75, but from the look of things, the musician is still in the game and is promising new songs and live performances.
On Friday, the Vanhu Vatema hit maker told Standard Style that he was soon calling it a day and dedicate his time on grooming up-and-coming musicians.
“There has been a lot of talk with regard to when am I retiring, but the truth is that I am not retiring at all. A musician does not retire, I am just leaving live performances and concentrate on something else,” Mukanya said.
“We have started work on the establishment of an arts and culture centre in Domboshava. Work on the site is in progress and we are leaving no stone unturned in our quest to impart cultural knowledge in these young musicians.
“I will be spending most of my time with these youngsters in Domboshava, as I believe quite a number are lost when it comes to music. They are living on borrowed lifestyles, even stage names are exotic, and they take everything from outside and make it theirs.”
Mukanya said he was, however, working on an album, which he believes will sum up his five-decade-long mainstream music career.
“Yes, it’s true, I am working on a new album, a blend of old and new songs. We are in the studio and something new is in the offing,” he said.
Mapfumo, who has been based in Oregon since his self-imposed exile more than two decades ago (returning home just twice for some shows), said he was also arranging a farewell gig in Zimbabwe and South Africa before he calls it a day.
“It’s unfortunate that there is a pandemic, but I have plans to do a farewell gig in Zimbabwe or South Africa. I am hoping the pandemic goes away and we do a very big bash,” he said.
“I am also planning to do a tribute gig for my late friend David ‘Yogi’ Mandigora in the United Kingdom. He was a good friend and I should do something for him.”
Mukanya’s last performance in Africa was in South Africa when he gave a five-star display at a two-leg gig at Ekurhuleni Boksburg Hotel on the outskirts of Johannesburg in October and November 2019.
Most of his scheduled 2020 shows were called-off due to the advent of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Since then Mukanya, just like many other artistes, has been on the sidelines.
He said the Covid-19 pandemic has ravaged the arts sector in Zimbabwe.
“Covid-19 is wreaking havoc across the globe, but I know in Zimbabwe it’s not looking good at all, especially with the advent of this Delta variant,” Mukanya said.
“With a rundown health system like ours, Zimbabwe might find it difficult to deal with this Delta variant. I am hopeful everything will be fine and we get back to business.”
On his return to Zimbabwe, the musician said he was coming soon as part of his retirement plan.