Back from a slight academic hiatus, Dutty Artz’s Chief Boima has vaulted back onto our speakers with his latest, the Chimurenga Renaissance mixtape. Done as a promo for the upcoming Chimurenga Renaissance album by Tendai Maraire (from Seattle’s rap trailblazers Shabazz Palaces), the mix moves through a set of tunes drawn from all around southern Africa (along with a few choice geographic digressions). Along the way, it makes a number of border-crossing connections, linking its roots oriented tracks with the more modern sounds of pop and hip-hop through their shared articulation of a variety of cultural struggles.
This struggle represents a broad interpretation of chimurenga, a Shona word that is literally translated as Murenga’s thing, or somewhat looser, as Murenga’s war. Murgena was a revered Shona ancestor whose warlike spirit was powerfully evoked during the 1896 uprising by the Shona and Ndbele people against the encroaching English. This struggle came to be known as the chimurenga war. It came to life again in the 1960’s and 70’s when the guerrilla warriors struggling against the oppressive Rhodesian government used the word to define their own fight. It made the jump to music through Thomas Mapfumo, who described his own highly political art as chimurenga. Since then its usage has loosened considerably, sometimes describing a general category of Zimbabwean music rooted in Shona traditions, while sometimes referring exclusively to the music made by Mapfumo himself. By broadening the term’s meaning, Boima explicitly links it to a broader sense of pan-african politics, noting how “music and contentious politics from Mozambique to South Africa to Zimbabwe to Angola are intimately intertwined in a history of struggle against colonial rule and state-based violence.”
Check it out!