Mapfumo’s Independence anniversary statement

DEAR fellow Zimbabweans, – On behalf of myself, my family and the whole Chimurenga Music fraternity, please allow me to wish the people of Zimbabwe a happy 35th Independence anniversary.

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mapfumo

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We unwaveringly take pride in our Independence as it marked the end of racial segregation after a protracted war of liberation. We salute the masses of our people, the heroes and heroines, sung and unsung, who dedicated their lives to our struggle for freedom.

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The colonial period was a dark epoch as blacks were treated as second-class citizens in our place of birth. We suffered restricted movements and failed to access countless opportunities for economic and social advancement. Today, it is a different story altogether.

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While the liberation struggle was fought among other things for social, political and economic transformation, it is regrettable that the majority of our people continue to enjoy only flag Independence.

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We have shocking levels of unemployment, corruption, poverty and widening inequality. If you are rich you enjoy far more rights.

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You have probably been getting even richer since 1980, you own a nice house; you send your children to overseas schools and universities; you are cared for in the best private hospitals and abroad.

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If, however, you are poor, unemployed or a low-paid casual worker, you have the legal right to all these things, but you do not actually enjoy any of them.

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You are most likely to be little better off or even worse off, than in 1980. Life is a constant struggle to put food on the family table, pay school fees, bills and keep out of debt. The proof of spiralling hardships is everywhere. Many Zimbabweans have fled our country of birth that we love so much because of the unbearable conditions. People are hungry and angry.

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They have no food, medicines or jobs, the economy is heading south, cities have no clean water or reliable power supplies and the infrastructure is going down the drain.

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While the black empowerment programme and the land redistribution exercise may have brought a sense of optimism to correct historical imbalances in Zimbabwe coming through a levelled economic ground, it was a sad development as Zanu PF leaders awarded themselves multiple farms while using their political muscles to access ownership of major industries.

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The majority of the population remained in the same old conditions that they suffered during the Smith regime. The suffering masses who should maintain loyalty and peace, are supposed to cheer for the comfortable corrupt government leaders who are enjoying their acquisitions alone.

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Because of lack of accountability, even the comfortable leaders now pretend to be victims of a system that they themselves created.

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Be that as it may, the dream of a better Zimbabwe can only be achieved through unity, hard work and determination. It will need focus and honesty for the conditions to improve. The political situation in Zimbabwe is not yet conducive for free and fair elections; the new Constitution still carries some unfavourable clauses that entrench dictatorship.

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Democracy is still a far cry. There are many other problems that come with that. There is a lot of work to be done to bring comfort, happiness, peace and unity for the masses.

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For those who left home in search of means of livelihood in other countries, the road has been a bumpy one.

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Race relations are still a factor in some global spots. Some of our people suffer quietly as they are deprived of equal opportunities despite the granted right to live and work in those foreign countries. Then in countries like neighbouring South Africa, the fast-looming hatred for foreigners has become a concern. Xenophobia should be least expected in a place like South Africa.

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Zimbabwe was in solidarity with South Africa as she fought against apartheid.

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Today, 21 years after the fall of apartheid, the remnants of apartheid are still manifesting in some rogue elements who are attacking fellow Africans. It is a sad development because the South African government has not pro-actively reacted to international expectation when it comes to eliminating xenophobia.

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Through more lobbying, maybe something could be done before the situation degenerates into genocide.

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If our Independence really mattered, our people could be safe and sound at home.

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What is worrying is the deafening silence by the Sadc and the African Union in acting against xenophobia in South Africa. Xenophobia must be condemned and it must STOP!

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As a Chimurenga musician, the struggle for social justice and equality continues to be the central theme in work.

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We have, and will continue to sing the music. We do not only entertain; we also make sure that we remain connected to the suffering masses, the message I carried in my new album DangerZone.
\nBut again I do wish to express my disappointment by the Government of Zimbabwe in failing to deal with piracy which has left a majority of us musicians wallowing in poverty because of theft of our artistic efforts.

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Zimbabweans deserve comfort, peace and a guaranteed pursuit of happiness in their homes. They deserve a piece of that cake of national wealth.

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Government leaders in Zimbabwe should listen to, and work with the people to eliminate poverty, crime and the rising unemployment.
\nDaily, we pray that the politicians stop politicking and bickering at the expense of national development. Our leaders must listen to the masses.

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They need to collaborate with them and stop chasing personal luxuries and foreign travel when the ordinary people are failing to access the basics.

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Without such basics, the concept of national Independence could be a farce because only the apex of the social pyramid is benefiting from the fruits of Independence. To the suffering masses, Independence Day has just become another calendar date.

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I pray that our leaders descend from their high towers and seriously pay close attention to people’s needs.

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Our leaders must urgently engage the people in a practical way that upholds all the values of our hard won Independence. People are weary of false promises, whining and government blame games

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If only our government leaders could stop being big-headed, Zimbabwe could progress and many citizens in the Diaspora could find the assurance and confidence to return home to settle and help rebuild the country. It’s a long way home, but could be shorter if we worked together.

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Finally, on this particular Independence Day we must pay our respects to all the gallant sons and daughters of the soil who participated in the war of liberation.

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It is to such heroes that we owe our freedom and we must never forget that debt we owe them and try to live up to the high standards of selfless dedication to the struggle for freedom and a truly democratic Zimbabwe
\nAluta continua!
\nDr Thomas Tafirenyika Muchadura Gandanga Mapfumo, Oregon, US