Chimurenga Music

I am actually very excited to write this blog post because I am now delving into the popular culture aspect in Zimbabwe. This post will speak about Chimurenga music, and this was a Zimbabwean popular genre that delivers messages of social and political protest throughout western popular styles and assorted music of Southeastern Africa particularly though featuring the Shona mbira (Chimurenga, 2014). The Shona name translates to “struggle”, or “liberation war.” Chimurenga music played a very key role in rallying rural populations against the white minority government during the struggle for black majority rule during the 1960s and 70s. From the very beginning, Chimurenga music for black Zimbabweans has been an icon for strength, integrity and modernity of black traditions.

The person that started this style of music was Thomas Mapfumo who was a Shona musician and political activist. It’s important to know the background of Mapfumo because his background is how this style of music started. By the time he was in his mid 20s, in the late 1960s, Mapfumo and the majority of black Zimbabweans were entwined in an escalating conflict with the white minority government of the new, albeit unilaterally declared, independent Rhodesia (Chimurenga, 2014). Because of this political climate this inspired Mapfumo to express his musical Shona ideas and identity. In my research, I found something that really stood out to me and that was in 1970s, Mapfumo formed the Hallelujah Chicken Run Band. With this band one of his first initiatives was to change the language of the songs from English, which was associated with the white minority administration, to Shona, which was spoken by the majority of the country’s black population. As the music grew in popularity, the Rhodesian government recognized the music as a serious threat to its authority. This was interesting to me that music could have such a huge impact not only on the people but the government as well, is just amazing to me. Many chimurenga music was censored, if not banned. Mapfumo was imprisoned for many months in 1977. Zimbabwe was granted independence from Britain in 1980, and this happened with the help of chimurenga music. One of the songs Thomas Mapfumo released was a song called “Hondo” in this song he sings about war, AIDS and the loss of traditional African culture (Zimbabwean’s Songs of Struggle, 1993). His songs really integrated political views and this was something that didn’t happen before in Zimbabwe. One of Zimbabwe’s challenges, historically through chimurenga songs, the country has been able to achieve some notable level of national cohesion (The mobilitons of popular music, 2009).

I really enjoyed learning about this kind of music because it is very different than the kind of music nowadays has to offer. Chimurenga music delved into social justice problems that was perpetrated by the government. I found it interesting how a type of music could have such an impact on the people. This just shows that music is more than just words to a beat, it has meaning and can make huge impacts in the world.

For Further Reading:

Gorlinski, V. (2014, January 31). Chimurenga. Retrieved April 13, 2018, from

Musiyiwa, M. (2009, May 19). The mobilization of popular music in the promotion of national unity in Zimbabwe. Journal of Music Research in Africa. Retrieved April 13, 2018, from

Pareles, J. (1993, September 04). A Zimbabwean’s Song of Struggle. New York Times. Retrieved April 13, 2018, from



Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU)

To go along with my last few blogs posts I will talk about one of the liberation movements in Zimbabwe called the Zimbabwe African National Union. This was a political party during the Rhodesian Bush War, and it was formed because of a split from the Zimbabwe African People’s Union. In 1963 ZAPU had a split and the Zimbabwe African National Union was formed and lead by Ndabaningi Sithole. Robert Mugabe was elected as General Secretary (Zimbabwe, 2017). These two leaders were very dissatisfied with the military tactics of Nkomo in ZAPU. Chitepo was the head of the war council of Zimbabwe African National Union, headquartered in Lusaka, where it and other Zimbabwean nationalist groups sought to free Rhodesia from the rule of its white minority (Assassination of Herbert Chitepo, 2003) It wasn’t until after Chitepo’s assassination on March 18, 1975 that Robert Mugabe would later assume control of ZANU. Interesting enough he would later become prime minister and President. Recently, he just got overthrown in November.

ZANU units were armed primarily by China. Many of the insurgents that fought in the war received military training abroad in China, Algeria, and Tanzania. In my research, a part I found interesting is both political groups established exile headquarters in black countries, particularly neighboring Zambia. With these two liberations movements, they originally thought to bring about change through peaceful means, but they soon turned to more violent methods, including the formation of military elements trained in guerilla tactics and armed with the necessary weapons to carry them out.

The split in ZAPU and the founding of the more militant and inward-looking ZANU proved to be the turning point in the history of the nationalist movement. ZANU’s agenda was more of a socialist and pan Africanist. It demanded an independent state with black majority rule in one party republic, as well as elimination of all racial discrimination, and government control of land use. ZANU at the end was banned for a few weeks after it had been formed, but interesting enough it continued to operate as an external organization in neighboring black countries as an underground operation. It was organized by occupational groups such as farmers and miners. This part really stood out to me because it showed that the people were dedicated to ending the rule that was happening around them that they didn’t agree with. Also by having miners and farmers make up this organization this just showed to me that the lower class wanted to step up for their country and try to finally make their voice heard. ZANU was committed to the total liberation of Zimbabwe and will defeat any efforts by the imperialists to maintain or regain control (Women’s News, 1980). Then a little bit later Zimbabwe African National Union leader Mugabe announced that Rhodesia’s guerilla groups, ZANU and ZAPU are to be merged under one command after the political affliction of the two groups in the Patriotic front (Zimbabwe African National Union, 2012).

This blog was interesting to learn but I have posted a lot about the history Zimbabwe so I am very excited to hopefully in my next post talk about pop culture in Zimbabwe. I hope to talk about something that is more light hearted.



For Further Reading:

Viewpoint. Woman news, vol 1, no. 3, 1980, p. 11. Archives of Sexuality & Gender. Retrieved April 12, 2018, from

White, L. S. (2003). Assassination of Herbert Chitepo: Texts and Politics in Zimbabwe. Retrieved April 12, 2018, from

Zimbabwe African National Union leader Robert Mugabe announces that Rhodesia’s guerrilla groups, Zanu and Zapu. (2012, April 30). South African History Online. Retrieved April 12, 2018, from

Zimbabwe. (2017, November 16). South African History Online. Retrieved April 12, 2018, from

Second Matabele War

As a continuation of my last blog post we are now going to explore the Second Matabele War. This war can be slightly confusing because it has been named multiple things such as the Matabeleland Rebellion, or it could also be known as the First Chimurenga War. I should mention that as I was researching my topic, I ran into some difficulties. The difficulties I faced as I learned about this topic is there were multiple names for the same war which confused me. Another problem I should mention that I faced is that websites I researched sometimes called the war the First Chimurenga war and some websites called it the Second Chimurgena War, so it was hard to know what was the right information.  I had to ask multiple people about what it was called exactly.

This war was fought between 1896 and 1897 in an area that was known as Rhodesia but is now Zimbabwe. This war was fought because of a revolt of the Matabele also known as the Ndebele people against Cecil Rhodes’s British South African Company. It pitted the British South Africa Company against the Ndebele (Matabele) people, which in turn led to conflict with the Shona people in the rest of Rhodesia. So, in March 1896, the Ndebele revolted against the authority of the British South African Company in what is now celebrated in Zimbabwe as the First Chimurenga. First Chimurenga was an uprising in Southern Rhodesia with a set of struggles over land, cattle, and taxes rather than a planned, unified movement intended to overthrow the whites (The First Chimurenga, 2011). Neither the Africans nor the British were unified. The First Chimurenga also called the First Liberation War happened in 1893-1896, the war was pitted locals using spears and bows and arrows against white settlers with guns (Zimbabwe presses for repatriation of skulls from Britain, 2015).

I should mention that at this time the country was in a drought with locust plagues and cattle diseases ravaging the country at the time. An important figure during this war was the Milmo, who was the Ndebele spiritual leader. Mlimo is credited with shaping how the Second Matabele War would be. “He convinced the Ndebele that the white settlers (almost 4,000 strong by then) were responsible for the drought, locust plagues and the cattle disease ravaging the country at the time.” (Second Matabele War, 2011). So as this quote spoke about I found it extremely intriguing that one person could have such an effect on the Ndebele and Shona people and convinced them that why all of this is happening to their country is because of white’s settlers. So with Milmo’s convincing skills the Ndebele people moved on to fight. “Matabele Forces are ready to move on Buluwayo”. (Massing for Attack, 1896). Military intelligence at the time thought that capturing the Mlimo would be the speediest way to end the war. Which in turn they were right about because once they captured him they assassinated him which in turn led the Matabele warriors to lose and the Europeans won the land and got to distribute the land and how they wanted which of course would be in the Europeans favor.

This war was different to learn about then the first Matabele war but I learned a lot about these two wars that I never knew of before. This blog was definitely harder for me to research but at the end it was worth it and I learned a lot. The part of this war that I found extremely interesting was that one player had such a huge impact on the direction of how the war would move forward. I look forward to exploring even more into Zimbabwe in later posts!



For further reading:


Massing for attack. (1896, Apr 18). The Washington Post (1877-1922), pp1. Retrieved from


The First Chimurenga: 1896-1897 Uprising in Matabeleland and Mashonaland and Continued Conflicts in Academia. (2011, Winter). Constellations. Retrieved from


Second Matabele War. (2011, August 01). South African History Online. Retrieved from


Zimbabwe Presses for Repatriation of Skulls From Britain. (2015, August 16). Associated Press. Retrieved from


First Matabele War

This first post is going to consist of learning about the First Matabele War. This war was fought between 1893 and 1894 in what we call now Zimbabwe. The war was fought between the British South Africa Company against the Matabele Kingdom also known as Ndebele. The Matabele Kingdom was under the leadership of King Lobengula and the British forces were under the command of Major Patrick Forbes.

So, King of the Matabele, named Lobengula began the war of conquest against the Mashona. But the British intervened. While the main body of Matabele warriors were in the north fighting to conquer the Mashonas, armed columns of the British South Africa Company invaded Matabeleland in what is present day western Zimbabwe in the fall of 1893. With this Lobengula became furious at this encroachment and made plans for war against the invaders. I should mention that Lobengula, King of the Ndebele tried to avoid war with the South African company warriors because he and his advisors were made aware of the destructive power of European produced weapons the company had over Lobengula’s men, which will be spoken about later on in the blog.

On November 1, 1893 the Matabele warriors carried out an assault on the British forces, demonstrating their courage. They had 80, 000 spearmen and 20,000 rifleman, against fewer than 700 British soliders, but the Ndebele warriors were no match against the British Maxim guns (First Matabele War, 2011). Some facts on the maxim gun was in 1885 it was the worlds first automatic portable machine gun to the British Army and it was a very powerful gun. “Havoc played by the Maxim Guns.” (SLAIN BY THE BRITISH, 1893). The title of this article really speaks about how strong those maxim guns were. They were extremely powerful and caused lots of harm to the people. Another article says that it was a “weapon which discharges 600 rounds a minute.” (ADMIRED BY THE BRITISH, 1885). “Conceive a weapon weighing only 65 pounds, mounted upon a light tripod, which can be lowered, raised, moved laterally with one hand as easily as a garden hose, and which pours out automatically.” (ADMIRED BY THE BRITISH, 1885). This weapon as I learned played a huge role in this war because it killed a lot of King Lobengula’s army men. Lobengula as I learned tried to avoid war with the British South Africa Company because he knew of the destructive powerful weapons such as the maxim gun as I talked about in this paragraph that they would bring to fight.

Because of the  British South Africa Comapny maxim guns , Matabele had 1,000 dead and many wounded on the field. But the British South Africa Company only lost three of its members which you could see how much power those maxim guns produced if they were able to kill as many Matabele fighters as they did. The reason the war started was for the purpose of seizing Matabeleland, which was said to be far richer in golds than the territory in Mashonaland. The British South Africa Company wanted to take over the Matabeleland because “they were finding themselves on the verge of bankruptcy and the company thought to get its float with more stock and gets its feet again by seizing the rich gold fields in Matabeleland.” (SLAIN BY THE BRITISH, 1893).

After this what I learned is that Lobengula’s men were not as prepared with the fighting tools that they needed in order to take on the British South African Company. Also I learned that this war started because one player was on the verge of bankruptcy and wanted to gain riches while the other players land was very rich full. Majority of the wars that happen in the world happen over ownership of land and this war was no different. Can’t want to explore Zimbabwe even more in later posts. Talk to you guys soon!

For further reading:

SLAIN BY THE BRITISH.  (1893, Nov 10). The Washington Post (1877-1922) Retrieved from

ADMIRED BY THE BRITISH. (1885, Jun 13). New York Times (1857-1922) Retrieved from

First Matabele War. (2011, March 21). South African History Online. Retrieved from