African Music, Power, and Being in Colonial Zimbabwe

African Music, Power, and Being in Colonial Zimbabwe

Mhoze Chikowero
Distribution: World
Publication date: 11/24/2015
Format: Paperback 35 b&w illus.
ISBN: 978-0-253-01803-8
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Winner, 2016 SEM Kwabena Nketia Book Prize

In this new history of music in Zimbabwe, Mhoze Chikowero deftly uses African sources to interrogate the copious colonial archive, reading it as a confessional voice along and against the grain to write a complex history of music, colonialism, and African self-liberation. Chikowero's book begins in the 1890s with missionary crusades against African performative cultures and African students being inducted into mission bands, which contextualize the music of segregated urban and mining company dance halls in the 1930s, and he builds genealogies of the Chimurenga music later popularized by guerrilla artists like Dorothy Masuku, Zexie Manatsa, Thomas Mapfumo, and others in the 1970s. Chikowero shows how Africans deployed their music and indigenous knowledge systems to fight for their freedom from British colonial domination and to assert their cultural sovereignty.

Author Bio

Mhoze Chikowero is Associate Professor of African History at the University of California, Santa Barbara.


“Whereas previous generations of scholars have argued how Africans adapted and revived musical traditions to resist colonialism in Zimbabwe, Mhoze Chiowero takes a longer view to demonstrate just how complicated and varying music history across Africa is during this era.”
 — Tyler Fleming, University of Louisville

“A worthy contribution to African history, ethnomusicology, music, and dance married together with the powerful institutions of African colonialism and missionary work.”
 — Tendai Muparutsa, Williams College

“Reveals the power of colonialism to infiltrate African culture and manifests how Africans were socially engineered to be complicit in the colonial project.”
 — Maurice Taonezvi Vambe, University of South Africa

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Table of Contents

Introduction: Cross-Cultural Encounters: Song, Power and Being
1. Missionary Witchcrafting African Being: Cultural Disarmament
2. Purging the "Heathen" Song, Mis/Grafting the Missionary Hymn
3. "Too Many Don’ts:" Reinforcing, Disrupting the Criminalization of African Musical Cultures
4. Architectures of Control: African Urban Re/Creation
5. The "Tribal Dance" as a Colonial Alibi: Ethnomusicology and the Tribalization of African Being
6. Chimanjemanje: Performing and Contesting Colonial Modernity
7. The Many Moods of "Skokiaan:" Criminalized Leisure, Underclass Defiance and Self-Narration
8. Usable Pasts: Crafting Madzimbabwe Through Memory, Tradition, Song
9. Cultures of Resistance: Genealogies of Chimurenga Song
10. Jane Lungile Ngwenya: A Transgenerational Conversation
Epilogue: Postcolonial Legacies: Song, Power and Knowledge Production

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