Zimbabwe / South Africa: ‘Travelling concert’ highlights repression

7 January 2008
A socalled ‘travelling concert’ event in Southern Africa gives stage to Zimbabwean artists who have suffered censorship of some of their work on state-controlled radio and television.

Mbira star Chiwoniso Maraire was a key figure on the ‘Make Some Noise’ protest concert in South Africa which gathered a crowd of two hundred people on 8 December 2007 at the Bassline, one of the capital’s live music venues.

‘Make Some Noise’ is a travelling concert that aims to raise awareness about the current crisis in Zimbabwe. The concert has so far been mentioned and featured in dozens of mainstream South African and Zimbabwean radio, newspaper and tv reports, and is now to travel further around the region of Southern Africa – from Soweto to Gaberone, Cape Town to Mbabane in the next few months leading up to the Zimbabwe Presidential elections in March this year.

Strengthening networks
“The concert aims to galvanise Southern Africans into action on the Zimbabwe crisis especially in light of the current SADC ‘talks’ and the looming Zimbabwe elections,” said the Zimbabwean rapper and poet Samm Farai Monro, also known as Comrade Fatso, who coordinated 8 December show.

He wants to bring together the many Zimbabwean asylum seekers and human rights defenders in South Africa, and help them strengthen their networks.

“We also aim to galvanise the South African public into putting pressure on their government to be a positive force for change in Zimbabwe,” he said.

Asked if he is afraid that the Zimbabwe government will stop the project in one way or the other, he replied:”Resistance to oppression has its consequences. A stone thrown at a tank can always bounce back twice as hard at the stone thrower. State security knows who we are and what we do. But we speak the truth, spitting it out in verbose verse. And for the truth we are ready to be arrested.”

Are you not afraid to be forced to live in exile after this ‘touring concert’?, Freemuse asked Comrade Fatso.

“Exile is the last straw. Exile is agony. I would only go into exile if I really thought my life was threatened.”

Recently, police banned four political satires by renowned playwrights simply based on the fact that they were critical of President Robert Mugabe’s government.

The concert in Johannesburg was a joint initiative between Magamba, a Zimbabwean network of spoken word artists and activists, and LNM Entertainment, one of Johannesburg’s musical promotion companies. Amnesty International runs a campaign with the same name, ‘Make Some Noise!’, but this event doesn’t have anything to do with this.

Lyrics of Comrade Fatso – an excerpt

Words are warriors
And their great gifts are glorious
But politicians wanna sell us words that are worthless
Creating a populace that’s wordless
Throwing curse upon curse on the word’s carcass
But the word is a bird and birds fly regardless
Flying above the durawalls of their so-called silence
The word still heard above their virile violence
‘Cause you can bomb the word but you can’t keep it silent
Comrade Fatso, 2007



Comrade Fatso


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