Mbira Music The Cherry Plum That Spiced African Day Celebrations

The two-hour time slot was not enough as mbira lovers were left calling for more at the National Gallery of Zimbabwe on Africa day.

Classical acts from Panashe Mujuru, Chiedza Tiyenga, Evelyn Singizi and Klara Ana Rosa mesmerised fans with their exceptional traditional mbira playing prowess that resonated well with the African Day that was being celebrated on 25 May this year.

The well-choreographed performance was a five star, revelers felt shortchanged by the generous free entrance fee and event planners promised to make corrigenda to the acme mismanagement.

As if not enough, the free entrance to the function was coupled with an array of delicacies of traditional dish that was cooked with so much mastery that left all sundry salivating for more.

A stella performance from Evelyn Singizi, left the whole auditorium singing along to the chorus of her impromptu, honing her maestro on live performance.

Chioneso Maraire is the inspiration that led Singizi to embark on the Mbira playing journey. “Growing up listening and watching to Maraire’s songs was all I needed to decide to follow her journey in the mbira realm” said Singizi.

She started playing mbira instrument in 2020 when she enrolled with Great Zimbabwe University for a degree In Media Studies.

“I have always had a traditional background, dancing to traditional music at an early age whilst doing Grade 3 and I still do traditional dance as of now”, said Singizi.

Playing Mbira music especially coming up from a Christian background comes with its own challenges. Singizi put it that, “I never got support from my parents or family, but I do have support from people who I look up to in the music industry “.

In the music industry, women face challenges in a patriarchal dominated society that are not only limited to sexual harassment so as to get time slots during life performances.

“Sometimes you will be given a chance to perform at big stages but in this patriarchal society, you need to sacrifice other things to gain something.

Cyber bulling is some of the other things we face as young female mbira players and performing with renowned artist becomes a halucalem task”, Singizi bemoaned.

Singizi urged the National Art Council of Zimbabwe to promote Mbira Music so that the Mbira Sound be nationally celebrated sound just like amapiano genre in South Africa.

One of the artists of note who kept mbira lovers to their feet is Mujuru Panashe.

Mujuru started playing mbira when he was doing his form one at Sahumani Secondary School in the Vallies of Honde.

Besides being taught mbira at school, “I used to go a little further on my own and put variations to what I was taught and come up with top notch sound and that is when I discovered that I was so talented”, Mujuru said.

Just like in Singizi’s case, no family support was offered to Mujuru as they believed that the playing of mbira was a sacred mode and evil spirits manifested.

“Hupenyu Wenherera”, a soliloquy peace in making is a story of orphans suffering in the hands of relatives and was so emotional performance by Mujuru that fans could be seen shedding one or two tear drops.

Mujuru signed off his performance by performing ‘Varimugomba’, a message to God and ancestors appealing for help. The help might be late in coming, so one should assist self and help will be met on the way, sang Mujuru, a spiritual uplifting song.

The writer of this script thought he had read and mastered it all about decoloniality philosophy, the black skin white masks as alluded by Frantz Fanon, but was left with pale face of shame when Klara Ana Rosa did a sterling performance.

“Shoko”, a mbira song filled with biblical imagery from John 1 verse 1, was the last song of the event, an act that became so personal to this writer and got him into thinking.

Conclusively he realised, Africa was not about the colour of the skin, ‘but the conception of the heart’. Klara is more African than most of the black people as revealed by her African allegoric song with Christianity insinuation and her traditional mbira playing artistry.

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