Geoff Geis

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Zimbabwe!

RECTANGLEMUGABE

After a tough campaign season, Robert Mugabe is finally ready to chill.

This is it! Today is the day! Election day in Zimbabwe! The polls have just closed, and even though results haven’t been announced everybody is already angry about them.

Did you know that Bob Marley played a concert for Robert Mugabe on the day he became Prime Minister in 1980? It’s true! You can look it up.

That doesn’t mean that the Rastaman supported Mugabe, necessarily. And even if he did, who is to judge? Marley was a proponent of a truly post-colonial Africa full of empowered Africans, so I’m sure Mugabe and others like him seemed promising at the time.

Mugabe didn’t actually like reggae. Yet, 33 years ago, he didn’t have enough clout to make the final decision over who played his own inauguration. Marley was picked because his song “Zimbabwe,” released on the Survival album when the nation was still Rhodesia, had been inspirational to the movement. After a chain of events that seems murky to me even after watching the documentary, there was some crazy tear gas incident at the concert. Kind of ominous.

The song  is optimistic, confrontational and energetic. However, listening to it is bittersweet. Zimbabwe hasn’t lived up to its expectations. Bob Marley didn’t even get to see it fail because he dropped dead. It’s seriously depressing.

Anyway,  hearing about Zimbabwe’s election inspired me to cover the song. In this version, I tried to capture a bit of the sadness and regret that I hear when I listen to the original. But hopefully I didn’t overdo it; I don’t have any reason to be overly pessimistic, and neither Mugabe’s regime nor the Rastaman’s demise diminishes the potency of the song’s message. I’d like for this to come off as more “pensive” than “melodramatic.”

Here it is, with backing vocals and organ from Sarah Cisco.

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Music

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