To accompany the latest Afropop Closeup, “Thomas Mapfumo: The Enigma of Return,” Banning Eyre’s report on Mapfumo’s triumphant return to Zimbabwe following a decade and a half of exile. Thousands of his countrymen turned out to greet him in a massive all-night concert in Harare, confirming, as Banning notes in the article, that “Chimurenga is the voice of redemption and reconciliation—the joy that comes after suffering. That expression, which Thomas traces back to the murder of the prophet Chaminuka in precolonial Zimbabwe, is indomitable.”
This installment of our “Best of The Beat” series takes us back in time with “On the Road With Thomas Mapfumo,” the story of Banning’s first encounters with Mukanya (Thomas’s Shona nickname), in Harare in 1988 (the year Afropop Worldwide was founded). He then relates the saga of his experiences going on the road with the Blacks Unlimited on their first U.S. tour in 1991, and offers intriguing first-person insights into the complicated character of Mapfumo, and a snapshot of the Blacks Unlimited at this early point in their career.
Published in The Beat Vol. 10 #6, 1991