Musicians Who Paid The Price Before Pussy Riot

Thomas Mapfumo wrote one of the most famous revolutionary songs, "Hokoyo."

From NPR:

The two-year jail sentences for the members of the band Pussy Riot might seem extreme to people in the U.S., where musicians are protected under freedom of speech. But this is not the first time musicians around the world have faced punishing consequences for being rebellious.

In some countries, the treatment of outspoken musicians is so severe that it’s better for them to leave their homes altogether, says Banning Eyre, senior editor of the public radio show Afropop. “The greatest singer, arguably, of modern Zimbabwe, Thomas Mapfumo, is currently living in exile in Eugene, Ore.,” says Eyre, “in the aftermath of some very, very direct criticisms that he sang of the government in the late ’90s.”

One of Mapfumo’s most famous revolutionary songs, “Hokoyo,” from the 1970s, warns a white government to watch out — the black majority will take back the country. But unlike Pussy Riot’s very public trial and sentencing in Russia, Eyre says, many African musicians who speak out against their governments are simply harassed. He says that’s what happened to Mapfumo.

“They never banned him,” he says. “They never did anything overt, but he received threatening phone calls. They just made him so uncomfortable that he left.”

Continue reading the rest of the story on NPR