Harare Conversations: Author’s Talk

harare Conversations July 2016 01

“Skokiaan: Writing Harare’s Early Urban Cultures Through Song”

African Music, Power and Being by Mhoze Chikowero is as much a book about the history of Zimbabwean music as it is a history through music. It is the first historical study of Zimbabwean (and, to a good extent, Southern African) music from the late 1800 to the end of the colonial period. It does so with both great depth and with theoretical sophistication that befits both an academic study and a work that is accessible to the general reader on this understudied subject. The book can be characterized as a historical and theoretical exploration of how European colonialism sought to subjugate and dominate Africans by subverting and appropriating African cultures, and how Africans responded by deploying their cultures to fight that domination. Chikowero identifies colonial undermining of African cultural sovereignty as a program that was jointly pursued by the colonial state, missionaries and colonial social scientists, particularly ethnomusicologists. Colonists attacked African cultures—musical traditions, spiritualities, and other aspects of their cultures to destroy the foundations of their being. That was the surest way to colonize the people. Africans responded in various ways, including: resistance, identifying with or appropriating some of the colonial ideas, and attempts to repurpose some of the tools of colonizers to fight back. One prominent way in which Africans resisted was through waging Chimurenga, both militarily and musically. In many ways, singing and swinging went together.

harare Conversations July 2016 01About the author:

Mhoze Chikowero is an Associate Professor of African History at the University of California, Santa Barbara and Visiting Research Professor at Wits University, South Africa. He attained his undergraduate degree at the University of Zimbabwe, and his MA and Ph.D. at Dalhousie University, Canada. Before he joined UCSB, Chikowero was a post-doctoral fellow at Rutgers University in New Jersey. Presently, Chikowero is a fellow of the American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS). Professor Chikowero has published numerous journal articles and chapters in edited volumes. Today, the Mbira Centre is honoured to launch Professor Chikowero’s first book, African Music, Power and Being in Colonial Zimbabwe (2015), which is the first in a series of at least three books on Zimbabwean and Southern African musical histories and cultures. The book was published at the end of last year by Indiana University Press. We are particularly pleased because Professor Chikowero is the Research Consultant here at the Mbira Centre for the last several years.


Tawanda Nyamangara (Curator for Education)


Friday 22 July 2016
2.30 PM to 4.00 PM


National Gallery of Zimbabwe – MMCZ Gallery

Special Mbira & Hosho performance by Prince Kudakwashe Musarurwa

* The Author’s talk will be on Chapter 7: ‘The Many Moods of “Skokiaan” Criminalized Leisure, Underclass Defiance, and Self- Narration’. Please email the author at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to get a PDF excerpt.

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