In partnership with the Center for African Studies, through support from the US Department of Education's Title VI Program, Krannert Center welcomes Thomas Mapfumo & The Blacks Unlimited for a performance at Stage 5 in the central Lobby. The performance will be accompanied by commentary from Mhoze Chikowero based on his award-winning book, African Music, Power, and Being in Colonial Zimbabwe.
Thomas Mapfumo is known as "The Lion of Zimbabwe" for his immense popularity and for the political influence he wields through his music, including his sharp criticism of the government of President Robert Mugabe. He both created and made popular Chimurenga music, a Zimbabwean music genre that blends traditional Shona mbira music with modern electric instruments and lyrics characterized by social and political commentary. The word chimurenga itself is the word for liberation in the Shona language. Mapfumo's slow-moving style and distinctive voice is instantly recognizable to Zimbabweans.
Mhoze Chikowero, Professor of African History at the University of California, Santa Barbara, just won the J.H. Kwabena Nketia book prize for 2014-16. His book presents a historical account of the articulation of colonialism and self-liberation in Zimbabwe and Southern Africa through music and related performative cultures. The Blacks Unlimited, and particularly its leader Thomas Mapfumo, feature prominently in the book.
Together, the talk and performance advance an African multimodal approach to self-authorship that brings together scholarship and performance in the same space to present a powerful experience of music and intellectual discourse.