“Hokoyo!” by Thomas Mapfumo and The Acid Band - album review

features in: Album Chart of 1978Album Chart of the Decade: 1970s

TJR says

Since the 1960s, Thomas Mapfumo had been playing western rock music with his band, The Springfields, in the pubs and clubs of Rhodesia, but this belied a love for the traditional drums and mbira music from his rural upbringing which burned deeply within him. Eventually, he worked out a fusion formula, translating the mbira (a hand held piano thumb) to the electric guitar, enthusing others around him in the process. In 1974, he found a key supporter in Crispen Matema, a jazz drummer who was then working for Teal Records as a producer. The single “Hoyo Murembu”, sung in the native Shona tongue, made reference to the war against minority rule in his country that had now began in earnest. This combination of traditional, but modern, music, which boldly sang out against oppressors, caught on like wild fire, and Mapfumo quickly became something of an underground cult figure. He joined forces with Charles Makokove's Acid Band in 1976 and, following a string of single releases, a full LP was delivered in 1978. The LP was the first on Teal’s “Chimurenga Music” imprint, validating the music in print with an identifiable name. Chimurenga is a word in the Shona language, roughly meaning “revolutionary struggle”, and is used to identify the native’s first revolt against British rule in the 1890s. The Second Chimurenga, also known as the Rhodesian Bush War or the Zimbabwe Liberation War, refers to the guerrilla war of 1966–1979; the timing was right for this new genre tag.

Despite the heat of the subject matter, album opener “Hokoyo!” (“Watch Out”) is disappointingly tame, musically at least, opting for a funky western disco vibe. The mood seems to be celebratory already, almost as if openly mocking Ian Smith’s white minority government. Thankfully, the rest of the LP concentrates on the new Zimbabwean sound, and is consistently terrific throughout. “Dindingwe” (a re-recording of the 1977 single), “Hwa-Hwa” and “Matiregerera Mambo” are the three songs which immediately cleanse the pallet following the westernized pollution of the opener. Quite apart from the war for independence, this music must have seemed revolutionary purely in musical terms, instilling a great sense of cultural pride within black Rhodesians. Free Zimbabwe was now just a Chimurenga beat away from reality.

The Jukebox Rebel

A1 [04:50] 5.3.png Thomas Mapfumo and The Acid Band - Hokoyo! (Thomas Mapfumo) Disco / Funk
A2 [03:24] 8.0.png Thomas Mapfumo and The Acid Band - Dindingwe [album version '78] (Thomas Mapfumo) Africana
A3 [03:42] 8.1.png Thomas Mapfumo and The Acid Band - Hwa-Hwa [1978 song] (Thomas Mapfumo) Africana
A4 [04:01] 8.4.png Thomas Mapfumo and The Acid Band - Matiregerera Mambo (Thomas Mapfumo) Africana
A5 [03:36] 7.6.png Thomas Mapfumo and The Acid Band - Dendera (Thomas Mapfumo) Africana
B1 [05:08] 7.9.png Thomas Mapfumo and The Acid Band - Mhandu Musango (Thomas Mapfumo) Africana
B2 [03:10] 8.2.png Thomas Mapfumo and The Acid Band - Murandu (Thomas Mapfumo) Africana
B3 [03:11] 7.4.png Thomas Mapfumo and The Acid Band - Jaju-Mu Jakacha (Thomas Mapfumo) Africana
B4 [03:45] 6.4.png Thomas Mapfumo and The Acid Band - Zvandiviringa (Thomas Mapfumo) Africana
B5 [03:33] 7.8.png Thomas Mapfumo and The Acid Band - Chengeta Vabereki (Thomas Mapfumo) Africana
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