Vocal opposition

Zimbabwe musicians risk all to air their political views.

    In Video

    Freedom of speech is not generally encouraged in Zimbabwe, and Robert Mugabe, the president, is clamping down on citizens who are too outspoken.
     
    Hundreds of musicians, traditionally vocal about politics, have fled Zimbabwe. As a result, the country has not produced a well-known artist in more than a decade.

    Al Jazeera's Haru Mutasa discovers why the few musicians still brave enough to speak out, do so in fear.
     
    One popular Zimbabwean group, Abanqobi Bomlhaba, sang for a better Zimbabwe, one free of violence and intimidation of voters.

    But their songs drew criticism from many of Zimbabwe's politicians, and so they slipped out of Zimbabwe in the dead of the night.
     
    Mandla Mlambo, one exiled musician, said: "It's one of the things government doesn't like at all. Such that if at any given time they get hold of you ... you can be hanged."
     
    Some of the musicians left in the late 1990s. Now they are all illegal immigrants trying to make a living as gardeners, cooks, or street vendors.
     
    Raising awareness

    Watch Haru's report

    Singing does not bring in much money - but the musicians continue their work to raise awareness of what they believe is happening back home. 
     
    Elijah Mlambo, another exiled musician, said: "Now Mugabe is kidnapping people at night ... to kill them. Far away you find their bones. There are bones all over the farms. It's a different style of killing, but he has never stopped killing people."
     
    They say even in South Africa they are afraid of the Zimbabwean government. Rehearsals take place in hiding - late at night - when they feel no one is watching.
     
    Many of Zimbabwe's youth live together in South Africa - they see safety in numbers even if their conditions are undesirable, and they are left fighting for food. Music seems miles away while merely surviving is a daily task.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera


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