Nothing to celebrate – Zimbabwe Vigil Diary

The celebrated Chimerenga musician Thomas Mapfumo says he feared for his life if he returned to Zimbabwe for the funeral of his brother Lancelot. Mapfumo lives in the United States but last went to Zimbabwe to perform in 2018 after the overthrow of Mugabe, of whom he was a vocal critic.


Mapfumo expressed disappointment with the current government. ‘I am totally against the Mnangagwa regime. People, the young people should take to the streets and remove Mnangagwa. I hate an oppressor, that’s why I am in exile.’

Mapfumo was jailed by the Smith regime and, after independence, was persecuted by the Mugabe government before fleeing to the United States. He said Zimbabwe was not moving forward. ‘It’s evident that the current government has failed the people and the gains of liberation have been wiped off.’ (See:

A South African-based academic Professor Rodwell Makombe has dismissed suggestions that Zimbabweans are ‘silent accomplices of their oppression’. On the contrary, he said, the country was ‘awash with resistance, opposition, frustration, anger, disappointment, and cynicism’.

Makombe was speaking after receiving a prize for his book ‘Cultural Texts of Resistance in Zimbabwe’. He said: ‘cultural

artefacts such as music, whether Chimerenga, sungura or gospel, are in many ways the music of resistance against the poverty, family disintegration, hunger, death, and political bigotry that have proliferated in the context of the economic crisis’. (See:

Two examples of the resistance are the opposition legislators Job Sikhala and Godfrey Sithole who have again been denied bail after being held in prison for four months facing a charge of incitement to political violence. They submitted a petition signed by more than 50,000 people demanding their release and they argued vainly that they are political prisoners (see:

Other points

  • The Vigil marks its 20th anniversary on 15th October next week. We sent this message to our Vigil activists: ‘Please come to our 20th anniversary event and encourage others to come. We always say we mark the occasion rather than celebrate because after 20 years of campaigning things are no better in Zimbabwe in terms of human rights abuse and lack of democracy. However our Vigil activists can be congratulated on their consistency and commitment. Unlike many human rights organisations we have not been armchair activists. We have come out onto the street week after week to be the voice of the voiceless in Zimbabwe. We look forward to seeing many old friends.’ Check for flyer. Thanks to Vigil activist Chido Makawa for producing the flyer.
  • For Vigil pictures check: Please note: Vigil photos can only be downloaded from our Flickr website.

Events and Notices:

  • 20th anniversary of the Zimbabwe Vigil. Saturday 15th October from 2 – 5 pm outside the Zimbabwe Embassy, London.
  • The Restoration of Human Rights in Zimbabwe (ROHR) is the Vigil’s partner organisation based in Zimbabwe. ROHR grew out of the need for the Vigil to have an organisation on the ground in Zimbabwe which reflected the Vigil’s mission statement in a practical way. ROHR in the UK actively fundraises through membership subscriptions, events, sales etc to support the activities of ROHR in Zimbabwe. Please note that the official website of ROHR Zimbabwe is Any other website claiming to be the official website of ROHR in no way represents us.
  • The Vigil’s book ‘Zimbabwe Emergency’ is based on our weekly diaries. It records how events in Zimbabwe have unfolded as seen by the diaspora in the UK. It chronicles the economic disintegration, violence, growing oppression and political manoeuvring – and the tragic human cost involved. It is available at the Vigil. All proceeds go to the Vigil and our sister organisation the Restoration of Human Rights in Zimbabwe’s work in Zimbabwe. The book is also available from Amazon.
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