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LMG Choir: the cornerstone of revolution

by Staff reporter
18 Apr 2022 at 10:27hrs | Views
THE battle for the freedom of Zimbabwe from the shackles of imperialism was pursued on various fronts.

Some battled physically, others did so verbally while others provided the necessary resources to battle.

Basically, whoever was involved did their part in eliminating the burden of colonialism that was weighing down the black majority.

For the past 42 years, the month of April in Zimbabwe has had a more significant political, monetary, and social importance.

It denotes the country's freedom from the abusive white system that looked for never-ending double-dealing of mineral assets and oppression of individuals of this incredible country.

As the nation thinks about the excursion it has ventured on, it is essential to note that heroes are not just the individuals who lie at the Heroes Acre in Harare as many might be misdirected into accepting.

There are other people who were not directly in the fighting front whose commitment has some way or another tracked down no articulation in the political talk.

No commitment was too little to freeing the country. Artists, for instance, were important foundations of the insurgency.

They sang, propelled, energised, and showed the upsides of the freedom as given by the pioneers.

They subsequently offered their viewpoints and those of the contenders and pioneers — passing on the message and the standards from the principals to the majority.

Music was hence a significant part of the freedom battle and its commitment can never be overemphasised.

The majority of the pre-Independence black musicians made melodies with profound expressive importance, while some were bound with profound Shona or isiNdebele phrases as they did this at the extraordinary gamble of being captured by the abusive white system that was generally too anxious to even consider gagging anything they considered reproachful of their standard.

Indeed, a portion of the black musicians willingly volunteered to sing about the conflict, about blacks as children of the dirt and being legitimate beneficiaries of their undeniable legacy.

They decided to forfeit the business side of music at the raised area of political practicality and that reality alone merits some acknowledgment.

Great musicians such as the late Solomon Skuza, Dorothy Masuka, the late Ketai Muchawaya, the late Safirio Madzikatire and Thomas Mapfumo come to mind when one talks of the pre-Independence music heroes.

There was also Kasongo band, the original Light Machine Gun (LMG) Choir, Impi Yesiko, Zipra Choir and many other choral groups that braved arrest and did what they knew best to inspire the comrades.

Notably among the groups which still are up and running is the LMG Choir.

The group fought through song and it churned out many popular songs.

For the first time in 42 years, the Bulawayo-based outfit known for tracks like Kubuhlungu Emoyeni and Yithi Laba will perform in their native city, Bulawayo, which is hosting the prestigious occasion for the first time since Independence.

The group which was set up by the late Vice-President Joshua Nkomo to sing revolutionary songs was made the official Zipra Choir in Zambia in 1978.

Its songs turned out to be the driving force of the struggle as they motivated revolutionaries.

Initially, the choir had founders the late Give Nare, Lichani Moyo and Mawuda Moyo. Gladys Moyo, Happiness Sibanda, Albert Nyathi, and the late Solomon Skuza joined the group at a later stage.

The news crew caught up with Gladys Moyo and Happiness Sibanda who are some of the three-long serving LMG Choir active members who went down memory lane.

Sibanda who joined the liberation struggle when she was 13 years old said she developed an interest in politics at the time as she hated how the whites were treating them.

She was mostly influenced by broadcaster, John Mbedzi whom she listened to on the radio and would emphasise the importance of the war.

When one left the country to join the liberation struggle, they were first taken to Selibe Phikwe in Botswana before they were ferried to Zambia.

Sibanda said she joined LMG Choir at its inception in 1978 while in Zambia.

"We decided to form the choir in Zambia with other comrades as we didn't know when we'd return to Zimbabwe.

This was also a way of curbing the issue of loneliness or thinking about our parents because we were young.

"At the war, there was no form of entertainment from radio or television so the only way to entertain ourselves was to form a drama group and a choir," Sibanda said.

She said they thought that as a group of 25 they could have something that would assist other comrades in various camps.

"We started the choir and travelled all over Zambia to Freedom Camp (FC), Mkushi camp, Nampundu and Jason Moyo among others.

We went to these places to motivate the fighters and sang plenty of songs — Sihlezi Egangeni, Laphuma Laba Bahle, Sizogijima, Guerilla Ilanga Litshonile, they were so many of them.

"Most of our songs were composed following the situation of that day — the same applied after the bombardment of Mkushi and FC," said Sibanda.

"Most of the LMG songs are about the bombing. That's when we composed songs about the pain that we went through."

She said the bombardments really affected them as, "you would be talking to someone and the next thing their intestines are out, the head has separated from the body and the hand is in another direction."

She also has scars from the bombardments she witnessed at Mkushi Camp that serve as a constant reminder of her experience in the trenches.

According to Sibanda, it was not all gloom in the trenches as they would joke about their circumstances to up their spirits.

"There's a song called Guerilla Ilanga Litshonile Uzolalaphi? It's a song that we were mocking each other saying we don't have shelter and don't know where we'd sleep and the reply was: I'll sleep in the trees like a bird.

This was because we'd dig some pits while in the bush and that's where we'd sleep."

When the country attained Independence in 1980, LMG Choir was among those who performed in celebration of the victory.

"We were the forerunners to Bob Marley's performance meaning we were the last act before he went onto the stage.

It was really great to see the Union Jack being lowered down as it showed that at last, we had liberated our country.

"After Independence, we composed songs Emoyeni, Kwakubuhlungu and Salwa Salala Egangeni Lenyamazana narrating what happened during the war.

We continued to celebrate the Independence through our songs as we went around provinces singing to our parents," she said.

Sibanda said having performed at numerous galas over the last 42 years, being part of the Zim @42 celebrations is humbling as they will be showcasing in their native city.

"We're so humbled to be performing in our own city as one of the first groups to perform at the galas.

It's indeed a blessing."

Moyo said the choir was a tool to motivate the fighters to have high spirits.

"Whatever took place, we used to communicate it through music.

This is seen with every song we sang as it was reference to what was transpiring and what we were aiming to do.

Our music was widely accepted and people were always happy to see us perform live as they mostly heard our music from Radio Zapu and Radio Freedom which was the form of communication down in the bushes," said Moyo.

She said the attainment of Independence was one of the memorable moments as they were part of the first people to come to Zimbabwe, aboard a plane with Father Zimbabwe.

Reflecting on the Zim @42 celebrations, Moyo said: "The feeling is great because we, as the war veterans, have lived the life pre and post-Independence so we really appreciate the kind of life that we're living in terms of the conditions.

Source - The Chronicle
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