Toi Toi by Thomas Mapfumo & The Blacks Unlimited

Thomas Mapfumo and the Blacks Unlimited – Toi Toi (Protest)
Thomas Mapfumo and the Blacks Unlimited

Toi Toi (Protest) (aNOnym ReCOrds, 2003)

With lyrics that encompass Mapfumo‘s strong sense of social activism and pleas for divine intervention, Toi Toi (Protest), released on aNOnym ReCOrds, is a musical journey through the sometimes desperate human landscape of Zimbabwe, all wrapped up in the rhythmic elegance of Africa.

Mapfumo, marked as a revolutionary hero in his native Zimbabwe, continues his social and political crusade on Toi Toi with songs such as “Pasi Inhaka” (This World), “Vechidiki” (Youngsters) and “Musha Wenyu” (Your Home) that speak of the suffering that continues there and the need for help.

Backing up Thomas Mapfumo with Lancelot Mapfumo, Christopher Muchabaiwa, Mavis Mapfumo and Firista Bisiwasi on vocals is the incomparable The Blacks Unlimited and Friends. Chaka Mhembere and Bezil Makombe are the group’s mbira players with Zivai Guveya taking electric and acoustic guitars, marimba, mbira and vocals.

Percussion is rounded out with Lancelot Mapfumo, Christopher Muchabaiwa, Gilbert Zvamaida, Marven Sarutawa and Njwaki Batista Nyoni. Tsepo Makhaza plays bass; Banning Eyre on acoustic and electric guitar plays a couple of tracks; Gilbert Zvamaida is heard on the Zimbabwean sessions and Paul Prince plays guitar on Musha Wenyu. The brass section is rounded out with Brooks Barnett on trumpet; David Rhodes on tenor saxophone; Ohj Tavallai and Abel Chipango on trombone and Philip Mandizvidza Svosve on saxophone. Lancelot Mapfumo and Philip Domingo play keyboards.

Mapfumo fans will take quickly to upbeat “Timothy” and “Dande.” The charming ease of tracks “Komborera” (Bless) and “Ndateterera” (I Am Pleading) are musical proof that Mapfumo make even the most heartfelt appeal for change dignified and delightful at the same time.

Toi Toi opens the mind and the heart and hopefully makes change possible.

Author: TJ Nelson

TJ Nelson is a regular CD reviewer and editor at World Music Central. She is also a fiction writer. Check out her latest book, Chasing Athena’s Shadow.

Set in Pineboro, North Carolina, Chasing Athena’s Shadow follows the adventures of Grace, an adult literacy teacher, as she seeks to solve a long forgotten family mystery. Her charmingly dysfunctional family is of little help in her quest. Along with her best friends, an attractive Mexican teacher and an amiable gay chef, Grace must find the one fading memory that holds the key to why Grace’s great-grandmother, Athena, shot her husband on the courthouse steps in 1931.

Traversing the line between the Old South and New South, Grace will have to dig into the past to uncover Athena’s true crime.