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Zimbabwean Musicians Protest Through Song, Dance


Political tensions are flaring in Zimbabwe as President Robert Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai struggle to make their power-sharing government work ahead of elections planned for 2012. But Zimbabweans thousands of miles away have a solution: Mugabe should go. And two musicians are trying to make sure the long-time leader gets that message through a traditional form of Zimbabwean protest song.

It's the weekly Zimbabwe Vigil protest outside the Zimbabwe High Commission in central London.

Carrying the tune of the protest each Saturday are Dumi Tutani and Farai Marema, who make up the Zim Vigil Band.

Tutani dances - kicking up his legs and swinging his long braided hair.

While robed in a Zimbabwe flag, Marema plays African drums.

And together they sing - all to expose the human rights abuses of the Zimbabwe government.

“It is up to us as human rights activists to expose the Zanu-PF regime for what it is - that it is a gangster regime,” Tutan said.

Their lyrics call for the end of the 31-year-rule of President Mugabe.

The African leader is known for the violent eviction of white farmers from their land - crippling Zimbabwe’s massive agricultural industry and its economy.

And it's what inspired Marema to start writing protest music. “It is sad to see the situation in Zimbabwe now. Zimbabwe use to be called the “Bread Basket” of Africa. Zimbabwe used to feed other African nations," he noted. "And now it is one of the poorest countries in the world.”

Marema was forced to leave Zimbabwe a decade ago because of his music. But he hasn't stop singing. “We are not going to be intimidated by anyone. We are going to stand up to those guys and expose them because what they are doing is bad,” he stated.

Marema and Tutani have taken their protest songs from the sidewalks of the Zimbabwe High Commission onto the Internet. They are currently recording an album in Marema’s home studio.

Zimbabwe Vigil coordinator Rose Benton says the duo’s music helps to keep Zimbabwe visible in the media. “Their singing is wonderful. And they are also getting it out there on YouTube and websites, and so people know,” she said.

But both Tutani and Marema say the singing and dancing will not stop until the Zimbabwe people have the same freedom as they do.

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