Mukanya, HIFA deal hits snag

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Jonathan Mbiriyamveka

Harare – Efforts to bring Dr Thomas Mapfumo to perform at the Harare International Festival of the Arts’ Opening Night Tuesday hit a snag after the Chimurenga icon asked for a hefty pay cheque.

Mapfumo, who staged an emotional homecoming concert after a 14-year long absence on the local music scene, was expected to appear on the Opening Night themed: “A year of change. A year of potential. A year of celebration”.

However, HIFA organisers and Mapfumo’s management did not agree on the figure he wanted.

“Oh, yes! I wanted him (Mapfumo) to appear on the Opening Night but the figure he wanted to be paid was too much and obviously we couldn’t afford,” Manuel Bagorro, the founder and artistic director said.

Mapfumo’s management could not be reached for comment, as they had already left for the US.

Mapfumo, or simply Mukanya to his fans, last week delivered an emotional performance at Glamis Arena before a sell-out crowd staging a vintage set spiced with some of his latest hits.

It was also an emotional homecoming when he performed ‘Chauya Chauya’ at least twice emphasizing his hard-line stance as a protest musician. On the song, Mukanya urges people to exercise their right to vote and warns of an end of an ‘era’.

That Mukanya played the song twice shows how much of a protest he is and it evoked emotions regarding the impending elections due in July. But to most fans, Mukanya has not changed a bit – he is still the same yesterday, today and tomorrow.

“Yahwe,” he chanted and the crowd responded by loud cheers.

Backed by an 18-member piece band, including four mbira players, this was the stuff that made his performance so emotional and in tune to the last note.

As the last act, a lot was expected of him and he delivered on his promises to serenade music lovers with a four-hour show matching world-class standards.

But for some reason, the sound was inaudible at the VVIP where fans paid a whopping US$150 per head.

The cheapest ticket was going for US$20 again a sign that musicians of Mukanya’s calibre do not come cheap. A great outing organised by Entertainment Republic.

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