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Freshlyground: Banned In Zimbabwe, Booked In Brighton

While much of their music may be infectiously upbeat, the South African Afro-pop band Freshlyground doesn’t shy away from touchier topics.

South African band Freshlyground (Courtesy photo)

South African band Freshlyground (Courtesy photo)

Freshlyground has been making music together since 2002 but didn’t burst onto the global music scene until they collaborated with Colombian pop star Shakira on “Waka Waka,” the official 2010 World Cup anthem. The same year, they released their fourth album “Radio Africa.”

In the fall of 2010, they collaborated once again, this time with Thierry Casuto and Jonathan Shapiro, the controversial cartoonists behind ZA News, a satirical news program known for taking on African politicians.   The video “Chicken to Change” showed various African political figures in the form of puppets, most notably Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe. The song opens by hailing Mugabe as a “noble conqueror, “a supernova,” but eventually reaches a chorus proclaiming the leader “a chicken to change,” condemning him for clinging onto power for over 30 years.

Shortly after the video was released, the band’s working permits were revoked and their Harare concert subsequently canceled.

While “Chicken to Change” may have received extra attention, all of the tracks from “Radio Africa” are a cause for conversation.

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Hosts Meghna Chakrabarti and Anthony Brooks introduce us to newsmakers, big thinkers and artists and bring us stories of relevance to Bostonians here and around the region. Live every weekday at 3.

WBUR's Sacha Pfeiffer is co-hosting Radio Boston while Meghna Chakrabarti is on maternity leave.

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