“Ropa Re Zimbabwe” by Flavian Nyathi and Blues Revolution - album review

features in: Album Chart of 1980Album Chart of the Decade: 1980s

TJR says

From sadness to relief, celebration to hope, this is an album where the singer, Flavian Nyathi, reflects the mixed emotions felt by a great many of the Zimbabwean people as 1980 drew to a close. The title-track, a Top 10 single in the fall, finds the singer in tears as he mourns: “Ropa reZimbabwe mkapamra paChimoia” (Zimbabwean blood was spilt at Chimoio). This refers to the massacre of November 23rd 1977, when Ian Douglas Smith’s Rhodesian Air Force audaciously crossed the Mozambican border, bombarding incessantly with strikes over the course of a few brutal hours, indiscriminately killing around 6,000 exiled Zimbabweans including men, women and children. Whilst I only have small clues to go on, it seems that most of the tracks are informed by the near 20-year violent struggle for independence which was finally gained in the springtime of 1980. I imagine the opening track “Takawira” (“Falling”) to be celebrating the fall of the Rhodesian Front party from power; whatever it’s about, it’s a great dance track! Flavian’s not the greatest of singers but this set certainly has plenty of spirit from all concerned. “Mwana Takamushaya” seems to be a call for the children to take over – they are the future hope for Zimbabwe. “Ve Soweto” keeps the tempo lively, and I guess this is a “brothers in arms” message of solidarity to the ANC in South Africa to keep the faith. Offering a different flavour, “Ndikakunga Maivangu” channels reggae basslines and is peppered with suitably mid-tempo African guitar lines; an interesting combination. The reverential “Vu Mugabe” is typical of the majority mood in the country at this time. It’s excellent as a dance track, as is “Pfumo Demo” (“Spear Demo”) which features especially ebullient vocal hollers as well as a neat line in bird whistling; it sounds like a bit of a war dance. I don’t know what became of Flavian Nyathi – one internet commentator suggests he himself was one of the freedom fighters and that he later died in poverty unable to support his family – but one thing’s for sure, he has at least one brilliant LP to his name.

The Jukebox Rebel

A1 [04:45] 8.9.png Flavian Nyathi and Blues Revolution - Takawira (?) Africana
A2 [04:14] 7.9.png Flavian Nyathi and Blues Revolution - Mwana Takamushaya (?) Africana
A3 [03:22] 8.5.png Flavian Nyathi and Blues Revolution - Ve Soweto (?) Africana
A4 [03:47] 6.5.png Flavian Nyathi and Blues Revolution - Ndikakunga Maivangu (?) Africana
A5 [04:14] 8.7.png Flavian Nyathi and Blues Revolution - VaMugabe (?) Africana
B1 [04:24] 6.9.png Flavian Nyathi and Blues Revolution - Ropa ReZimbabwe (Flavian Nyathi) Soul Ballad
B2 [04:02] 8.8.png Flavian Nyathi and Blues Revolution - Pfumo Demo (?) Africana
B3 [04:38] 6.3.png Flavian Nyathi and Blues Revolution - Baba Namai (?) Soul Ballad
B4 [04:06] 8.2.png Flavian Nyathi and Blues Revolution - Vakasara (?) Africana
B5 [03:52] 8.4.png Flavian Nyathi and Blues Revolution - Hakuna Nyika Isna Rinda (?) Africana
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