Often described as "the Bob Marley of southern Africa," Mapfumo reportedly entered the country on a "P visa" granted to musicians, but is now trying to change his status by applying for political asylum.
If he’s able to leave the States and travel at will, the American authorities could decide his case isn’t critical and might not even bother letting him back in.
Knowing Mapfumo entered the States and then applied to stay, the U.K. authorities might equally have taken the view that he may get here and then suddenly decide he wants to stay.
Festival director Thomas Brooman, who won a BBC Radio 3 award this year for his contribution to world music, said he had to "throw the towel in" over Mapfumo "about eight weeks ago."
He’s not the not the only international musician who has been turned away from Britain this year because of visa regulations. A nine-strong Mozambique group called Djaaka was deported from Gatwick airport at the end of July because the members lacked transit visas needed to fly to a festival in Italy.
Four musicians from Mauritanian singer Dimi Mint Abba’s group wouldn’t be present when she performed at The Proms at the London’s Royal Albert Hall August 5th, according to The Independent.
And Edinburgh Fringe festival performer Kieran Butler has put out a last-minute call for a replacement violinist after his partner Michelle Wilson was deported back to Australia. Immigration officials said she worked in the U.K. without a permit.
WOMAD sold out its new 17,000-per day capacity – up 2,000 from last year – nearly a week in advance. It also sold about 4,500 day tickets (July 28-30) and let about 11,000 under-14-year-olds in for free.