Lion Songs

Thomas Mapfumo and the Music That Made Zimbabwe

Banning Eyre



Like Fela Kuti and Bob Marley, singer, composer, and bandleader Thomas Mapfumo and his music came to represent his native country's anti-colonial struggle and cultural identity. Lion Songs is an authoritative biography of Mapfumo that narrates the life and career of this creative, complex, and iconic figure. Banning Eyre ties the arc of Mapfumo's career to the history of Zimbabwe. The genre Mapfumo created in the 1970s called chimurenga, or "struggle" music, challenged the Rhodesian government—which banned his music and jailed him—and became important to Zimbabwe achieving independence in 1980.


[A]n intensely detailed and lucid work. Eyre is a musicologist, so when he explains the musical alchemy that went into creating Mapfumo's mbira-inspired chimurenga (revolutionary struggle) music, his descriptions are illuminating and technical. - Kwanele Sosibo, The Namibian


Banning Eyre is a guitarist, writer, photographer, and producer specializing in the music of Africa. He has produced the Peabody Award-winning radio show Afropop Worldwide and is author of several books on African music