Global Hit - Chiwoniso

Player utilities

Listen to the Story.

Audio Transcript:

Our Global Hit today features an artist from Zimbabwe.

CHIWONISO: My name is Chiwoniso Maraire. I use Chiwoniso only as my performance name. Chiwoniso was actually born here -- in the United States. But her family is from Zimbabwe, and she's lived there for much of her life.

And it's in Zimbabwe that Chiwoniso has made her mark as a musician. Her new album is called "Rebel Woman." Zimbabwe's economic collapse and recent political turmoil prompted Chinowiso to return to the US a month ago. We asked her recently to tell us about Zimbabwe and about her own experience as a Zimbawean living in the United States.

I don't consider myself a political refugee as such because I was born in this country. So it's not like I left one country I love and gone to a place I don't know because of politics. But, the situation in Zimbabwe is very difficult at the moment. It's frustrating, the arts, music in particular has taken a very serious knocking because of the economic situation. When there's not enough money in the country entertainment becomes something that slides lower down on the list of what's important to do and spend time with. Also, the freedom of speech aspect is very seriously compromised in Zimbabwe right now.

I definitely choose my words carefully. My music and the words that I choose when I'm singing are not words to insult or offend. They are words to bring awareness to a situation that I find important or I know that it's important to someone else's life. Because I don't write only what I'm experiencing and what I see, I also listen to other people's stories and put that down to music.

"Only One World" is a song that basically what I'm saying is to teach our children racism and separatism is only destructive. We carry their future and at the same time they are our future. Everything we teach our children now will determine the type of adults they'll be and the kind of world this will turn out to be.

When I was writing this song I was speaking specifically about what's going on in Zimbabwe regarding the children right now. Because with the way things are politically and the way things have been economically, half the time the teachers aren't going to school, you switch on tv and state television all they're talking about is that you have to basically follow what we tell you. There's no space for freedom of thinking. There's no space for the children to see things other than what they're being told. And I think this is hugely dangerous.

You know human nature requires Zimbabwe to go through some of what it's going through right now. Not all of, but some of, because it's such a young country. I'd definitely want the average American person to understand that we're not all dying of malaria, kwashiorkor, AIDS, you know what I mean? This is a deeply intelligent people. But at the end of the day I just want them to know that there's beautiful, defiant people in music all over the world including Zimbabwe.