Freedom Principle Black History Month Special: Chimurenga (Music of Struggle)

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With respect to February’s Black History Month, The Freedom Principle presents four programs of musical genres borne from diverse origins. In doing so, we continue a tradition here at CJAM of recognizing the contributions to the arts of peoples from the African diaspora, experiences which impact and help define our global culture. For the first part of the series, Desert Blues – A New Generation of Griots, click here.

In 1970s Rhodesia, a cultural reawakening occurred which brought pride back to the Shona majority. The cry of revolution against the British administration was led by the music of Thomas Mapfumo. Recorded in the midst of a guerilla war to overthrow the white minority leadership, the soundtrack was released as “Hokoyo!” meaning “Watch Out!” Borrowing from traditional Shona songs, Mapfumo transcribed the sounds of the mbira (African thumb piano) to guitar and the tripping rhythms of the hosho (cowrie shells tied around the ankle) to the drum kit hi-hat. The resulting ‘Chimurenga’ music (chimurenga means struggle) propelled a revolutionary war resulting in independence. Free elections were held in 1980 followed by a celebratory performance by one Bob Marley in the newly established Zimbabwe.

The Chimurenga (Music of Struggle) Special airs on Friday February 14, 2014 from 5:00-6:30pm.