Audio

Zimbabwe's Independence

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From trumpeter Hugh Masekela's mournful ode to migrant workers "Stimela (Coal Train)" to blues poet Gil Scott-Heron's "Johannesburg" and reggae prophet Bob Marley's lament "War", music has played an integral part in Africa's fight against the injustices of colonialism and apartheid. In Zimbabwe's struggle against white settler colonialism the situation was no different. Musicians like Stella Chiweshe, The Bhundu Boys, John Chibadura, Thomas Mapfumo, Oliver Mtukudzi and others provided the soundtrack the revolution.

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“Underlying all Zimbabwe culture is our on-going battle for justice, the concept of Chimurenga (taken from the Shona word for 'struggle' or 'outcry')”, says writer Alexander Fuller. It’s a concept that seeps and speaks through the writings of Dambudzo Marechera (House of Hunger) and Yvonne Vera (Stone Virgins), the compositions of Thomas Mapfumo, the plays of Daves Guzha (The Two Leaders That I Know) and many others.

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Today marks the troubled country’s independence from colonialism in 1980. Sadly, 32 years on Zimbabwe, once a beacon of promise, resembles nothing of a free state. So to honor this day, we’ve compiled a list of some jams criss-crossing the old-school and the new of resistance from the troubled nation.

Happy Independence Zimbabwe, aluta continua, the struggle continues.

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Interview

Interview: The Awakening of Bas

We talk to Bas about The Messenger, Bobi Wine, Sudan, and the globalized body of Black pain.

The first thing you notice when you begin to listen to The Messenger—the new investigative documentary podcast following the rise of Ugandan singer, businessman and revolutionary political figure Bobi Wine—is Bas' rich, paced, and deeply-affecting storytelling voice.

Whether he is talking about Uganda's political landscape, painting a picture of Bobi Wine's childhood, or drawing parallels between the violence Black bodies face in America and the structural oppression Africans on the continent continue to endure at the hands of corrupt government administrations, there is no doubt that Bas (real name Abbas Hamad) has an intimate understanding of what he's talking about.

We speak via Zoom, myself in Lagos, and him in his home studio in Los Angeles where he spends most of his time writing as he cools off from recording the last episode of The Messenger. It's evident that the subject matter means a great deal to the 33-year-old Sudanese-American rapper, both as a Black man living in America and one with an African heritage he continues to maintain deep ties with. The conversation around Black bodies enduring various levels of violence is too urgent and present to ignore and this is why The Messenger is a timely and necessary cultural work.

Below, we talk with Bas aboutThe Messenger podcast, Black activism, growing up with parents who helped shape his political consciousness and the globalized body of Black pain.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

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