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SATURDAY

In 1977, when Zimbabwe was still Rhodesia and his songs proved too much for the white-controlled government, Thomas Mapfumo was imprisoned. He was released only in exchange for his performance at a concert in honor of an interim prime minister he didn’t support. Taken there at gunpoint, Mapfumo stunned the authorities by playing his chimurenga (Shona for “struggle”) music, clearly demonstrating to the government that he could not be bought. And he survived the incident to continue his protest. In the late ’80s, the Lion of Zimbabwe and his band Blacks Unlimited released Corruption, which bravely spoke out against the post-independence President (for life?) Robert Mugabe. It took 11 years for Mugabe to shake Mapfumo, but in 2000, for fear of arrest or worse, the 57-year-old Mapfumo exiled himself and his family to Oregon. Recently, his American recordings were released as Chimurenga Rebel/Manhungetunge—and were promptly banned from airplay back home. On those discs, Mapfumo offers a revolution you can dance to, singing largely in Shona over funky Zimbabwean rumba that utilizes guitar and mbira (a handheld pianolike instrument) plus brass, percussion, and keyboards. Challenging musical boundries as well, Mapfumo—a fan of the Beatles, Wilson Pickett, and folkloric Zimbabwean music—offers a modern sound that includes both the traditional plonk of the mbira and electric-instrument adaptations of those homegrown riffs and melodies. He plays with his band at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 9, at the Barns of Wolf Trap, 1635 Trap Road, Vienna. $18. (703) 218-6500. (Steve Kiviat)