Thomas ‘Gandanga’ Mapfumo
|Born||July 2, 1945|
|Education||Donnybrook Primary School|
|Organization||Previous resident musician Club HideOut 99|
|Children||Janet Mapfumo, Charmaine Mapfumo, Chiedza Mapfumo, Matinyanya Mapfumo, Tapfumaneyi Mapfumo|
Thomas Tafirenyika Mapfumo, also known by his nicknames "Mukanya" or "gandanga", is a Zimbabwean Chimurenga music singer, a songwriter who is based in the USA. Mapfumo is one of Zimbabwe's top musicians. His genre of music is called Chimurenga (Shona for Revolution ) and many of his songs comment on socio-political issues. In 2001, Mapfumo went on a self-imposed exiled in the United States of America claiming his family could be harmed by the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU PF) government. His music career spans decades having started in the early 60s.
Following the ouster of Robert Mugabe as president of Zimbabwe in November 2017, it was announced that Mapfumo would be returning for a concert in Zimbabwe. Mapfumo came on the night of 18 April 2018 and was welcomed by a big crowd at Harare International Airport. Mapfumo hadn't performed in Zimbabwe for 14 years.
Mapfumo was born on 2 July 1945 in Marondera where he lived with his grandparents. His grandfather was a musician and his family was well experienced in the Shona traditional way of celebration songs accompanied by drums and Mbira. In Marondera, he attended Chiwonana School. After moving from Marondera to Mabvuku, Thomas did his primary education at Donnybrook School in the then Salisbury. He later moved to Mbare. Mapfumo is married to Verna Mapfumo. He has two daughters, Janet and Charmaine from his first marriage. He has three other children from his second marriage to Verna – Chiedza, Matinyanya and son Tapfumaneyi.
Early Music Career
Mapfumo said he got his first break to perform music with a quartet called Zoot Brothers (called Zutu in other reports) in Mabvuku while he was still in School. After hearing the Beatles and Wilson Pickett in the early '60s, Mapfumo taught himself guitar. But he also sang songs from African countries such as style known as Rhumba from the then Zaire.
In Mbare, Mapfumo was trained by Kenneth Mataka, Laina Mataka and their son, Edison Mataka whom Mapfumo described later as a "great musician". According to Laina, Mapfumo had tried music with the Zutu Brothers but failed before he approached them for help in 1962.
He joined the Mataka family (Father, Mother and Son) to become the Cosmic Four Dots playing rock and roll music after Little Richard and Elvis Presley and then moved onto the Springfields in 1966 with which he recorded songs at the then Rhodesian Broadcasting Corporation until 1973 when Daram Karanga headhunted him for the formation of the Hallelujah Chicken Run Band in Mhangura. It was with the Hallelujah Chicken Run band where his traditional style became real traditional by the inclusion of guitars that produced mbira sounds.
When he left Mhangura, Mapfumo had no band and would hang around until he met the late Jonah Sithole at Jamaica Inn. Jonah was leading the Drifters, a band he had brought from Mutare in 1974. The band had changed its name from Pepsi Combo to Vibrations and the Drifters. Eventually, they formed The Black Spirits together with Jonah Sithole. But the Black Spirits was to be disbanded and the Acid Band formed without Sithole.
The Acid Band itself was short-lived and gave way to a Blacks Unlimited again with Sithole in 1978. Their first album as Blacks Unlimited was Gwindigwi Rineshumba (There Are Lions In This Wilderness). Mapfumo has worked with the Blacks Unlimited band to date. He developed his mbira pop sound with guitarists Jonah Sithole and Leonard “Picket” Chiyangwa, bassist Charles Makokova, and others. Mapfumo’s lyrics reflected the concerns of the people around him such as the hardships of rural life, young men heading to the bush to fight, and a rising sense of indignation at white rulers who had systematically devalued Shona culture for four generations.
The guerrilla fighters had taken the name “Chimurenga”, Shona for “struggle”, and Mapfumo decided to call his new sound “Chimurenga music”. Chimurenga songs captured the imaginations of black people at that time. Mapfumo dedicated most of his songs to the fight of the Liberation struggle.
Mapfumo's music and its popularity with black people led to tensions with the white government and in 1977 was sent to prison for subversion. To obtain his release, Mapfumo is said to have agreed to perform for the white government, but at the concert, he sang only his most revolutionary songs and said later:
"I told them that since I'd been in detention, I didn't have time to write new ones." 
Chimurenga music after Zimbabwe's Independence
At the attainment of Zimbabwe's independence in 1980, Mapfumo's group shared the stage with Bob Marley and the Wailers at the national celebration of Zimbabwean independence. That concert is credited with the transition from a local musician to an international one, as he landed some international recording contracts.
In 1987 Mapfumo performed with Paul Simon and Bruce Springsteen at the 1987 Human Rights Concert in Harare, Zimbabwe. Thomas Mapfumo toured worldwide mostly USA and UK. In 1989 when he saw the new black political leaders as not serving the people, he started penning songs that opposed them. He warned young people not to let themselves be used by dirty politicians and in that year released the album Corruption. Throughout the 90s and 2000s Mapfumo continued to pen and sing some anti-government songs releasing such albums as Chimurenga '98, Chimurenga Explosion , Toi Toi (Thomas Mapfumo album) | Toi Toi and Chimurenga Rebel Manhungetunge1. The album Chimurenga Explosion, for example, which was released in 2000, had the following songs: Musanyepere (translated, "Don't Lie"), Mamvemve (translated, "Tatters"), Disaster, and Nhamo Zvakare (translated, "Back to poverty"), among others.
Self Imposed Exile to the USA
Mapfumo was the resident musician at Club HideOut 99 just before 2000 when Mapfumo moved his family to the United States on self-imposed Exile claiming that his life was in danger from the ruling political party, ZANU PF. Writers at government-owned newspapers, especially The Herald, however, dismissed his claims as exaggerated and that he was not under threat as he would come to Zimbabwe annually for shows from 2001 until 2005 when he stopped. Mapfumo was linked to an auto-theft ring and police said that they would pick him up for an unclosed docket involving allegedly stolen cars.
In 2012 he reportedly told the UK based New Zimbabwe blog that he would not return to Zimbabwe because he did not want to live in a country in which he's rich in a sea of poverty. He also said he didn't want to ask people who are struggling to just get by to pay to watch him sing. Mapfumo said his return to Zimbabwe was unlikely with the former President Robert Mugabe still in charge.
Return to Zimbabwe
In 2018 it was reported that Thomas Mapfumo was coming to perform to Zimbabwe. The show was scheduled for Aprill 28, 2018 at the Glamis Arena.
Zimbabwe Peace Tour
Thomas ‘Mukanya’ Mapfumo was expected back in December of 2018 to perform in several cities and towns. Mukanya’s Peace Tour was expected to see him perform at Gweru Golf Club on December 7, 2018. After the Gweru show, Mapfumo was also expected to perform in Bulawayo at the Large City Hall on December 8, 2018. A week later Mapfumo was to perform at Pagomba Café in Beitbridge. On December 15, 2018 he would perform at Caravan Park in Masvingo then at Golden Peacock in Mutare on December 21 followed by Kadoma on December 22 at Odyssey.
Mapfumo still continues to tour in America, Europe, and Africa.
- 1978 Hokoyo
- 1980 Gwindingwi Rine Shumba
- 1984 Ndangariro
- 1984 Mabasa
- 1984 Chimurenga Singles
- 1985 Mr. Music
- 1986 Chimurenga for Justice
- 1989 Corruption
- 1991 Spirit of the Eagle
- 1991 Shumba: Vital Hits of Zimbabwe
- 1991 Chamunorwa
- 1994 Vanhu Vatema
- 1994 Hondo
- 1995 Chimurenga Forever: The Best of Thomas Mapfumo
- 1996 The Singles Collection: 1977-1986
- 1997 Chimurenga: African Spirit Music
- 1999 Live at El Rey
- 1999 Chimurenga '98
- 2000 Chimurenga Explosion
- 2001 12 from 5: Collection, Vol. 2
- 2001 12 from 5: Collection, Vol. 1
- 2001 Dreams & Secrets
- 2002 Collected Classic Cuts and Rare Tracks
- 2002 Chimurenga Rebel/Manhungetunge
- 2002 Toi Toi
- 2004 Choice Chimurenga
- 2004 Chaputika/Live in Milton Keynes '04
- 2005 Spirits to Bite Our Ears: The Singles Collection 1977-1986
- 2005 Rise Up
- 2006 Sweet Chimurenga
- 2006 Zimbabwe Mozambique
- 2006 Roots Chimurenga
- 2006 Chimurenga Masterpiece
- 2006 Chimurenga Movement
- 2007 The Long Walk
- 2009 African Classics: Thomas Mapfumo
- 2010 Exile
- lacks/Chimurenga Singles Unlimited Ndangariro
- Mr. Music (Africa)
- Artist of the Year from the American World Music Awards in 1999
- Zimbabwe's Person of the Century in the Art's Award in 2000
- AFIM's Best World Contemporary CD Award in March 2001 for his 2000 release Chimurenga Explosion 
- Thomas Mapfumo Arrives In Zimbabwe After 14 Years For Homecoming Bira Concert, Pindula News. Retrieved: 19 April 2018
- Thomas Mapfumo Biography, Thomas Mapfumo Official Website, Retrieved: 9 March 2014
- This is The Truth About: Thomas Mapfumo, New Zimbabwe, Retrieved: 9 March 2014
- J. Poet, Artist Biography - Thomas Mapfumo, ALL MUSIC, Retrieved on 9 March 2014.
- Wonder Guchu, The day Thomas Mapfumo told me that tokurova nechipepa chako ichocho, Intimacy with Zim musicians, Published: 29 September 2011, Retrieved: 9 March 2014
- Dwight Woodward, "Bob Marley of Zimbabwe" to Receive Honorary Degree, Ohio University Media Services, Published: June 7, 2001, Retrieved on 9 March 2014
- Why I'm not returning to Zimbabwe: Mapfumo, New Zimbabwe, Published 30 July 2012, Retrieved 9 March 2014
- Thomas Mapfumo Releases Peace Tour Dates And Venues ⋆ Pindula News, Pindula News, retrieved: 21 Nov 2018
- Thomas Mapfumo, World Music Central, retrieved 9 March 2014
- Thomas Mapfumo and The Blacks Unlimited, retrieved 9 March 2014