Dzimbanhete advocates for participation and investment in culture and heritage  

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Press Release: 14 June 2022

Dzimbanhete Arts & Culture Interactions Trust advocates for cultural investment in its mandate to promote the arts, culture, and heritage. Through prioritising heritage preservation and enabling the promotion of indigenous knowledge practices, Dzimbanhete supports the spirit of Pan Africanism and Ubuntu. Aspiration 5 of Agenda 2063 of the African Union envisions “An Africa with a strong cultural identity, common heritage and shared values and ethics” which is at the core of Dzimbanhete as a cultural resources centre. 

It is the mandate of the organisation to contribute to the development and exhibition of cultural activities that encourage participation and interpretation by artists and audiences. 

The institution is tapping into Africa’s rich cultural heritage through creating cultural productions on heritage and art education, packed with indigenous traditional practices and material culture to stimulate the growth and transformation of the creative sector. These activities offset the institution’s greater idea, which is to advocate for investment in indigenous cultural heritage.  

Dzimbanhete is laying the foundation for preserving culture and heritage through a monthly Dare conversation titled “Chivanhu, Chinyakare neMatare”, which kicked off on 25 May in celebration of Africa Day. The idea is to get people to share knowledge about indigenous knowledge systems and practices and how they relate to contemporary life and society. What is essential is to ensure that an accessible, welcoming and responsive cultural and heritage ecosystem exists that enables full participation by diverse members of society. 

The launch of the Dare conversation, which took place at the All Africa Village, emphasized the importance of infrastructure in fostering a vibrant culture and heritage ecosystem. Audiences experience a tour of the All Afrika Village, which currently consists of indigenous architecture from Nigeria, Zimbabwe, South Africa, and Botswana. In the same context, audiences participate in conversation, collective research, and guidance through Matare a traditional court that the resource centre is now utilising for meaningful engagement. The participants are also treated to a taste of traditional beer and mbira music. 

The event challenges audiences to think about the meaning of indigenous culture and heritage and how it can be part of everyday living within communities. The underlying outcome is enabling and activating public education on culture and heritage and building relevant relationships between individuals. 

Dzimbanhete recognises that investment in cultural heritage enforces social cohesion and contributes to strong economic growth. Therefore, the organisation is setting out a five-year plan advocating for a USD 2 million investment centralised around activating the mobilisation of indigenous cultural heritage at the All Africa Village. The aim is to promote and celebrate Africa’s material culture and indigenous knowledge systems in an architectural environment representative of the continent’s rich and diverse heritage. 

As a critical player in the cultural and creative sector in Zimbabwe, Dzimbanhete foresees increased participation of investors in cultural production to ensure that the Cultural and Creative Industries in Zimbabwe (CCIs) achieve the objectives of Agenda 2063, National Arts and Culture Policy, as well as the National Development Strategy (NDS1).

THE SOUNDS OF THE SACRED WEB FESTIVAL

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Gule Wankulu performance during the SOSAWEF Festival. The Gule dance is a Malawian traditional cultural performance

The Sounds of the Sacred Web Festival (SOSAWEF) was a celebration of the rich and diverse spiritual, ritual, material culture and artistic influences of cultural interactions and heritage happening within a purpose build ALL AFRIKA VILLAGE thematic park. The festival was centred on the establishment of this safe space for cultural and artistic dialogue and interactions within a context propelled by the of traditional African knowledge systems.  Through this festival Dzimbanhete Arts and Culture Interactions Trust and its partner Oja Cultural development Initiative in Nigeria promoted intercultural dialogue and cultural exchanges amongst diverse audiences in an accessible manner to collectively celebrate, discuss and document African heritage and culture over a period of 17 months.

The Sounds of the Sacred Web Festival (11-13 December 2020), was a hive of activities; from traditional performances, music, chants, folklore, storytelling and traditional costume exhibition by the participants. The festival was lined up with performances from the Mbende Jerusalem Dance group from Murehwa, The Bharo Children’s Dance group from the nearby community, the Ndau performers from Chipinge, The Tonga performers from Binga, the Doma traditional leaders from Guruve, the Venda performers from Limpopo Province in South Africa, representatives of the Igbo and Hausa from Nigeria and the Gule Wamkulu from Malawi. The esteemed Guest of Honor on the occasion was Dr. Biggie Samwanda, Director- Arts, Culture Promotion and Development in the Ministry of Youth, Sports, Arts and Recreation who gave a befitting speech presented in one of the local languages to celebrate and uphold to aesthetics of the festival and uplift the community. Present on this day was also the Director of Culture Fund Zimbabwe, Mr. Farayi Mupfunya. Alkebulani Sound Systems a Sosawef collaborator, provided the much needed state of the art PA System.

SOSAWEF achievements.

Rehabilitation of the All Afrika Village & the Cultural Residency Program  was aimed at building two villages namely the Zimbabwean Village with 5 huts from around Zimbabwe (Karanga, Ndebele, Ndau, Tonga and Doma) and the Nigerian Village with the Igbo compound of 3 huts. The two Villages were to be the site space for the festival. The basic hut structures of the two villages were completed within the first six months of the project and a Healing Centre with one very large hut that serves as a cultural court and a small hut that serves as the Shaman’s healing room “Dare ”where established. In the second phase of the project however we decided to go beyond the set target and established two more villages, that is, the Botswana and the Namibian Villages. The construction of these two villages was advantageous to meet the needs of shelter required for the festival in December.

The building of one of the huts in the Zimbabwean Village.

The Architectural/Cultural Residency Program saw SOSAWEF hosting 8 technicians and cultural experts who came to the All Afrika Village to direct the building of their respective indigenous villages. The residency program was designed for artists, architects or cultural enthusiast to understudy while supporting expert builders as they led in the architectural discourse, construction and narrations on materiality and underlying aspects of their village structures. Notably, the Healing Centre was unveiled during the tour of the Culture At Work 2nd Networking event where we hosted 64 guests from 15 different Afrikan countries at Dzimbanhete on the 19th of February 2020.

A research Trip to Nigeria focusing the Igbo people in South East Nigeria was implemented in October 2019. This marked the first activity for the festival in preparation of the construction of the Nigeria Villages within the All Afrika Village thematic park.

The research was essential in acquiring knowledge on the cultural complex of the Igbo that also encompasses indigenous architecture, language, systems of classification, resource use practices, social interactions, ritual and spirituality. These unique ways of knowing are important facets of the cultural diversity that SOSAWEF aimed to display, and provided a foundation for locally appropriate discussions on sustainable development during the festival. The research did not only seek to inform the building of the Igbo compound in the thematic All Afrika Village, but also to provide perspectives from a different culture that will contributed to the discussions on cultural policy within the festival, it emphasised the role of intercultural dialogue and sharing priorities and concerns that have emerged in the need to safeguard cultural heritage. The contributions included knowledge and experience on safeguarding endangered language, spirituality, tangible heritage and cultural practises.

The Obu/Obi hut of the Igbo people of Nigeria housed in a state museum in Enugu State.

All Stakeholders and Launch was hosted by the district office of the Ministry of Youth Sports Arts and Recreation (thanks to Ms. Tarisai Gusho the provincial Arts and Culture Officer) in support of the Dzimbanhete Arts and Culture Interactions Trust to introduce the All Afrika Village and the Sounds of the Sacred Web Festival to various stakeholders within the district who were expected to play a significant role in contributing towards meeting the communal objectives of the project for our shared communities. The meeting was a success with the presence of the District Administration Office, the Regional Aids Council, the Zvimba Rural Chief and sub-Chief, Environmental NGOs, cultural groups and youth leaders.  Some important issues were raised particularly the relationship between the SOSAWEF and matters dealing with rural development and empowering the youth for sustainability.

Three Traditional Ceremonies were hosted for the Sounds of the Sacred Web Festival build-up activities. The first was the Bira Rekuvhura Mwaka in 2019, the second was the Bira Rekuvhara Mwaka and raining petitioning ceremony and the last was Bira Rekuvhara Mwaka in 2020. Both are annually celebrated ceremonies in Karanga culture. Bira Rekuvhura Mwaka ceremony marked the beginning and the ending of the 13th sacred month whereby the ancestors go to conference with Musika Vanhu/ Mwari (The Creator). The first Bira (in December 2019) was hosted on the day of the launch of the festival making it a significant event for this cultural festival as this awarded us an opportunity to say our prayers for divine guidance throughout the festival activities. The second Bira (in October 2020) also marked our first activity after the 7 month long Covid 19 lock down period.

The last traditional ceremony was the Bira Rekuvhura Matare, another annual traditional ceremony that celebrates the end of the sacred period of Mbudzi and ushers in the beginning of the New Year according to traditional cultures in the 13th Month of the Karanga calendar, the month of Bandwe.

Traditional Healer’s Conferences and traditional leaders’ panel called a Dare was held as platform to impart indigenous knowledge to the participants. The traditional healers were able to articulate themselves and respond to the questions that arose and clearly demonstrated how traditional knowledge is generally transmitted; orally, experientially and is learned through hands-on experience and not taught in an abstract context.

Cultural Conversations was hosted in collaboration with National Gallery of Zimbabwe under their flagship event the ‘Harare Conversations’ a well-established artistic platform. The conversation which was themed Rethinking Epistemes: Uprooting Toxicity and Moving towards a Socially Engaged Practice was marked with speakers from different ethnic groups from Africa; A South African of the Zulu ethnic group ubaba Menzi Maseko co-founder and Director of The Institute of Afrikology and a Nigerian from the Igbo ethnic group, Nna Jeff Unaegbu writer, film maker and the Principal Cinematographer in the Institute of African Studies at the University of Nigeria. The other participants were Sinyoro Chikonzero Chazunguza the Creative Director of Dzimbanhete re, Samaita Jonathan Goredema the Cultural and Spiritual Director of Dzimbanhete representing the traditional healers and Dziva Phillip Kusasa the founder and Director of the Ndau Arts Festival representing the Ndau tribe.

The second conversation was held during the tour of the Culture at Work 2nd Networking group which visited Dzimbanhete and the All Africa Village on Wednesday the 19th of February to tour the village and have an experience of the Sounds of the Sacred Web Festival venue. The afternoon was colored with introductory and cultural conversations by the two Dzimbanhete Directors, a tour of the site space with the DACIT team and improvised performances by both local and the visiting musicians from within the visiting delegation from all over Africa. In keeping with the theme of the festival, the participants were treated to a spiritual meditation practices and tree planting. The sharing of the traditional brew “Hwamatanda” which was especially made for the occasion highlighted the afternoon.  

The third conversation was online and organised by Oja Cultural Development Initiative in Nigeria. The theme of the conversation was Culture as a Healing Tool and it was necessitated by a desire to see cultural promoters engaging communities to promote peace and healing, this conversation was designed to cross-pollinate ideas from creatives across the board who are promoting culture in their communities.

Kumusha Children’s Day Camp was a one day camp meant to expose kids to village life through engagement in a real life activities: Mahumbwe format. Mahumbwe is a traditional learning process of playing and acting while recreating real life experiences; as such children got to know what happens in a village from food processing, the chores and the responsibilities of family members. The camp assimilated the village life by engaging characters that are real, in a village set up and environment that was uniquely designed for experiential learning.

On arrival, children were taken for a walk to tour the village, where they were received by Ambuya (female elder) and Sekuru (male elder). A traditional snack kicked off the village activities, with village introductions and chores, which took them until lunchtime. A traditional lunch was served and after lunch, children were introduced to traditional games, music, dance and storytelling. The camp ushered in the children into a world of cultural appreciation and broaden their understanding of different cultures, most of whom have never really experienced an organic village setup.

Children’s Mentorship and Traditional Dance Workshops the young minds mentoring were designed during the Kumusha Children’s Day Camp. Many of the children who attended were from the surrounding rural/farming communities and our interactions with them on this day brought a huge alert on the need to create a safe space for these children who are exposed to different abuses from birth because of the lifestyle in the farming compounds.

The mentoring sessions evoked an alternative paradigm of education and social growth. We believe this method to be effective in ensuring intergenerational communication enhanced by storytelling, observation, ceremonies, myths, legends and proverbs. Children exposed to these teachings will absorb the intrinsic values of their culture, values reinforced by adult living.

Community Film Screening – SOSAWEF collaborated with Sembene Across Africa to run a 3 day film screening in the ALL AFRIKA VILLAGE. The screenings which were a celebration of the life and work of Ousmane Sembene took place every evening and were part of the ground-breaking program, bringing African cinema to our community free of charge and having discussions after watching.

Outreach Programs

Our SOSAWEF partnering organisation in Nigeria Oja carried out an outreach program in Oboli Ndị Agwụ Community in Enugu under the theme Culture as a tool for healing. The Oja team went out on a healing visit to commensurate with families that lost their children and teacher in the terrible accident involving the school bus of Presentation Nursery and Primary school. The pain unleashed on the community is something one cannot explain. With gifts of consolation as is the Igbo culture the outreach program was received with warm regards and respect from the village elders and the families of the deceased. 

In conclusion through this festival Dzimbanhete Arts and Culture Interactions Trust and its partner Oja Cultural development Initiative in Nigeria together with other stakeholders promoted intercultural dialogue and cultural exchanges amongst diverse audiences in an accessible manner collectively celebrating, discussing and documenting African heritage and culture. The SOSAWEF activities upheld tradition as symbols of continuity of cultural values derived from past experiences which shape the present.

The activities which ran throughout a 17 month period achieved notable milestones in bridging the tension gaps created by modernity and belief systems that place emphasis on points of difference rather than parity. These activities such as cultural residencies, community film screening, conversations and traditional ceremonies created unity, broadmindedness and appreciation of indigenous culture for our audiences.

Additionally these activities provided a neutral platform to heal, promote peace and understanding of different traditions and rituals by digging deep into scared traditions that contributed to the oneness of our people. The festival was able to engage participants evoking an appreciation of culture as a crucial element in our people’s survival as it is the product of their direct experiences with nature and its symbiotic relationship with the social world. This knowledge, ancient, proven and based on cognitive understandings and interpretations of social, physical and spiritual worlds, encompassed concepts, beliefs, and perceptions of the participants.

The Sounds of the Sacred Web seems to have been well suited for these hard times we are living in. Happening at a time when the Covid 19 pandemic has disrupted many systems of knowledge and had almost rendered them useless at the present moment, culture and indigenous knowledge seem to be providing the solution in Africa and beyond. A renewed awakening and awareness of the importance of culture knowledge systems has been ignited and we are at the heart of it providing platforms such as the SOSAWEF and spaces such as the ALL AFRIKA VILLAGE to shape the discourse bridging communications gaps between generations and diverse cultures. This festival was instrumental in facilitating the sharing of the knowledge systems as epistemic recuperation for the African.

The Ndau and Ndebele huts in the Zimbabwean Village.
The Healing Centre and the Shaman’s hut.

Resilience and Innovation during the current Lockdown

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Press Release

Dzimbanhete Arts and Culture Interactions Trust’s All Afrika Village has remained resilient under the current Covid-19 lockdown, while it has maintained the lockdown measures by downing “hard tools” and remaining closed to the public. The team,which successfully pulled down the curtains on its Sounds of the Sacred Web Festival which was funded by Culture at Work Africa a consortium that includes Culture Fund and co-funded by the European Union, towed from August 2019 to December 2020, breaking off to observe Covid 19 national restrictions now and again. Having constructed the Igbo compound of Nigeria, the Zezuru, Tonga, Ndebele, Ndau and Doma huts representing Zimbabwe, Tswana and Khoisan representing Botswana and Kavango hut representing Namibia, the team has moved quite a milestone regardless. The team is looking forward to have completed the construction of the SADC region before the end of the year.

Through their innovative skills the team will soon be launching an Online Library of Indigenous Afrikan Architecture, this has come out as a way maintaining continuity during the current travel bans. This library will help inform the All Afrika Village construction team, as they will be able to reference for accuracy during the construction of the remaining countries’ homesteads. It will also avail information on indigenous Afrikan architecture to diverse audiences worldwide. The library will not just consist of images of huts, but detailed information on materiality, construction methods and underlying aesthetics, knowledge systems and narratives on how the custodians respond to their architecture. For the formation of this library, we have created links, people and communities in other Afrikan countries, whom we are working with. So far we have linked up with people in more than 30 different African countries and are still waiting for confirmation from the remainder. These links will be working as our research coordinators, visiting and documenting information on the ground in their respective communities via video, photographs and written narratives. All collected data will then be availed on our online platforms.

We highly consider the accumulation of such information, which we believe is rarely found, be it in academia and also wherever it is found it is never in the voice of the cultural custodians and it is frivolously labeled. This library will be groundbreaking in the understanding and appreciation of indigenous African architecture. African architecture is in general eco-friendly, built with natural material, which in most cases is locally available, is viewed by many as an entity of the past, if not backward. Yet the information we have gathered so far proves how efficient these structures are in terms of energy circulation and preservation, acoustics and how in their simplistic appearances are by far more complex than one would think. Each structure’s respective details serve more than one purpose and the details have remained quite specific over centuries. The fractals seen on the ceilings, which are a new phenomenon in modern mathematics, have been a feature in most of these structures since time immemorial and to hear how the Karanga people relate components of these fractals to the woman and man’s ribs as the computable methodologies for construction, indeed opens up another window of understanding. This is some of the information and details that the library will be availing to the global public once the project is complete.

Cultural Talk : THE KAVANGO PEOPLE

Ms. Lahiya Musimani takes us through this cultural talk of the Kuvango People of Namibia exploring knowledge systems, traditions and cultural practices.

She joins Dzimbanhete for a week long residency as the technical support for the building of the Namibian indigenous shelters within the All Afrika Village thematic park.

BIRA REKUVHURA MATARE

Join us for this exhilarating traditional ceremony as we welcome the new year in Karanga Culture in this month of Bandwe.!

Come let us sing the night away, dancing and clapping hands to the sounds of the mbira, ngoma, nehosho under the full moon as we celebrate Bira Rekuvhura Mwaka.

The traditional beer is already brewing. The beast for the festivities has be selected. The fire wood has been gathered. The new moon has appeared!

Let us sing, dance, feast, drink and and ululate the night away. And when dawn breaks let us part take of the oneness of the Bira, connecting, healing, igniting a renewed sense of belonging through our culture.

This is the Sounds of Sacred Web!

Kumusha Children’s Day Camp

We are always excited to invite you to the All Afrika Village and this time our excitement has us clapping and smiling as we look forward to having the young explorers and adventures running around in the Village all giggles and laughs as they enjoy the stories and songs in this one day cultural camp.

Bring the little ones and let them experience the essence of Kumusha. Treat them to this spectacular experience of fun learning that will also feed into their school curriculum.

Our children’s day-camp program is meant to expose kids to village life through engagement in a real life Mahumbwe format.

Mahumbwe is a learning process of playing and acting while recreating real life experiences; as such children get to know what happens in a village from food processing, the chores and the responsibilities of family members.

At Dzimbanhete Arts and Culture Interactions we assimilate the village life by engaging characters that are real, in a village set up and environment that is uniquely designed for experiential learning.

Upon arrival, children are taken for a walk to the village, where they are received by Ambuya and Sekuru. A snack kicks off the village activities, with village introductions and chores, which will take them until lunchtime. A traditional lunch is served and after lunch, children are introduced to games, music and story telling.

Usher the children into a world of cultural appreciation and broaden their understanding of different cultures.

DZIMBANHETE HOSTS SEMBENE ACROSS AFRICA FOURTH EDITION,OCTOBER 21-23 2020

African Cinema for Africa

Running under the banner of the Sounds of the Scared Web Festival (SOSAWEF) Dzimbanhete Arts and Culture Interactions in collaboration with the Sembene Across Africa (4th edition) will host a 3 day film screening from the 21st to the 23rd of October 2020. The screenings which are a celebration of the life and work of Ousmane Sembene will start at 6pm every evening and are part of the ground-breaking program bringing African cinema to communities throughout Africa and the Diaspora, free of charge for one weekend a year.

Sembene Across Africa, an annual program launched in 2017, returns with a week of online and in-person screenings and seminars, produced in conjunction with more than 100 African institutions.

The 2020 program includes two of Sembene’s films and a documentary about him.•

  • Sembene’s classic tragicomedy MANDABI (1968), which documents the plight of a Senegalese man who tries to cash a money order from a relative in France.
  • XALA (1975), a biting satire about corruption in the independence era.
  • SEMBENE! (2015), an award-winning documentary celebrating the life of this great man.

Ousmane Sembene, the father of African cinema, dedicated 50 years to telling stories to lift up his brothers and sisters. But, for Africans, his films have remained nearly impossible to find. The collaborative program Sembene Across Africa unifies hundreds of organizations, schools, universities and individuals, all with a single goal: to connect Sembene’s timeless, urgent works with Africans.

Sembene was a self-taught filmmaker who became a giant of world culture, and his films and fiction remain among the most inspiring works the continent has seen.

Mandabi, Xala and Sembene! will be available to stream for free in Africa from October 19 through October 25.

Sembene Across Africa will also include seminars, broadcast live on YouTube. Seminars include:

• Sembene’s Senegal: Understanding His Home Through His Books and Movies (Wolof), moderated by Boris Boubacar Diop: October 23 

• Fight the Power: Sembene and Black Power, Then and Now (English), moderator TBD: October 24 

• Rewriting History: Sembene’s Afrocentric Storytelling (French), moderated by Samba Gadjigo, participants TBD: October 25

About Ousmane Sembene

Ousmane Sembene, perhaps Africa’s most influential storyteller, is a truly inspirational figure for our times. Against impossible odds, he spent 50 years creating brilliant, timeless, progress-focused films and novels. Though well known to cinema lovers around the globe, Sembene had been largely forgotten in his native country and throughout Africa at the time of his death in 2007.

Ousmane Sembene


The son of a fisherman and a lifelong laborer, Sembene overcame a limited education and learned how to write while in his 30s. In his 40s, he taught himself to make movies. During the last 50 years of his life, Sembene dedicated every moment to galvanizing and inspiring his people, creating visionary, profound and subversive stories. His 1960 novel God’s Bits of Woods remains in the canon of world literature, and his timeless films include Borom Sarret (1963), Black Girl (1966), Mandabi (1968), Emitai (1971), Xala (1975), Ceddo (1976), Camp de Thiaroye (1986), Guelwaar (1992), Faat Kine (2000) and the Cannes-winning Moolaade (2004). Sembene intended for his stories to serve as an “evening school” for African workers and to inspire visions of a just, prosperous and free Africa.

About Sembene Across Africa

Each year, the Sembene Across Africa project—a continent-wide collaboration—shares works by the father of African cinema. Through its first three events, held in 2017, 2018 and 2019, the project reached millions of viewers through in-person screenings, held in 48 of Africa’s 55 nations, through broadcast and through the internet. For many, it was the first chance to experience movies made by Africans, about Africans and for Africans.

About MANDABI

“A true African pic, mirroring everyday problems in the witty guise of a folksy tale … it marks points with graceful insights, inventive scenes and technical excellence.” –Variety

After Ibrahima Dieng, an Illiterate, unemployed Senegalese man, suddenly gets a windfall—a money order from his street-sweeper nephew in France for $100—his “friends,” family and debtors swarm, and he finds himself dealing with a Kafkaesque bureaucracy designed to rob him of both money and dignity. The first African film shot in an African language, MANDABI is a winner of numerous international awards.

About SEMBENE!

“Endlessly fascinating … an enormously moving portrait of the profound way that art can transform those who come in contact with it.” –New York Magazine

In 1952, Ousmane Sembene, a Senegalese dockworker and fifth-grade dropout, began dreaming an impossible dream: to become the storyteller for a new Africa. SEMBENE! tells the unbelievable true story of the self-taught “father of African cinema,” who fought enormous odds to return African stories to Africa. SEMBENE! uses rare archival footage and more than 100 hours of exclusive materials to craft a true-life epic, as an ordinary man transforms himself into a fearless spokesperson for the marginalized.

About XALA

“Cutting, radiant and hilarious … It is part fable and part satire, but it is much more: with the greatest fineness and delicacy, Mr. Sembene has set out a portrait of the complex and conflicting mesh of traditions, aspirations and frustrations of a culture knocked askew by colonialism and distorting itself anew while climbing out.” –New York Times

Shot in 1975, amidst the increasingly audacious corruption of post-independence West Africa, XALA follows a group of Senegalese businessmen who, having seized power from the French, fall into the same greed and self-serving policies that they pledged to eradicate. Among them, El Hadj Abou Kader finds himself dealing with a curse that leaves him temporarily impotent with his new young bride, his third wife. He traces the curse back to a surprising source.

“Whether it’s DeMille, Hitchcock, the Senegalese filmmaker Sembéne … we’re all walking in their footsteps every day…” — Martin Scorsese

Nine Ancient Sounds

The Mbira Instrument Narrative

The Story of a People

Mbira is a musical instrument whose history is inseparable and deeply encrypted in the history of Afrikans particularly those in the modern day Zimbabwe. This instrument and the music itself present the very narrative of who we are and where we came from as a people.

By researching on the original tunes of the Mbira instrument and music, one cannot help, but gain lots of appreciation of this instrument as a significant era-peg in the historical migration and identity of the modern day Zimbabwean, which again defines what we call “Hunhu”.

We have 9 Mbira Tunes that have come a very long way in our history, with the very first one having been made from a hardwood, back in Guruuswa 1, which was in the Persia region.

Mbira tunes in brief

Nhemamusasa Tune

../establishing homesteads/shelter.

Guruuswa 1 was all about building an organized society, a collective identity and self sustenance while at the same time scrambling for settling space. There were also many wars being fought to defend the collective and we were not many compared to the surrounding Arab and European groups. It was at this period that the collective led by Mbire the elder brother of Guruuswa who was also Mutapa 1’s father commissioned the making of the first Mbira instrument for the purpose communicating with the Creator with regards to his people’s plea to establishing a peaceful community, thus the Nhemamusasa Tune was established.

Mahororo

../from orora, meaning to triumph.

Mutapa had two sons, Madzudzo and Murenga. His uncle Guruuswa’s spirit was now manifesting and guiding his people through Madzudzo in all the advice that the people needed and all the wars which were being fought. With this guidance, and fighting experience the collective now had a very powerful army in which, all, including women and children were trained and armed to fight. One group after another of invaders came, causing lots of blood shed but they all fell at the hands of this well organized collective led by Murenga. It was after this great triumph that a tune for praise and pride was commissioned and that was the Mahororo Tune.

Chakwi

../was Chaminuka’s other name, so this tune is also known as “Bvunzai Chaminuka”, meaning, ask Chaminuka.

This was now in Guruuswa 2, which is in the Nubia area and Murenga had three children; Chaminuka and Mushavatu the two boys and Nehanda their sister. Chaminuka became the profoundest warrior of all time, with mystic powers such that for all victory in battles he had to be consulted. In his honor, the tune Chakwi/BvunzaiChaminuka, was commissioned.

Mavembe (ma-Vembe)

../Vembe is the name for all Afrikan languages collectively

The migration journey was still on course with the guidance of the spiritual powers, who at this point so it fit to differentiate the people because up until this time the black clan was just one. The oneness of the clan made it weak. It was then given that all the descendants of Chaminuka would have totems from the animal family and those of Mushavatu would have the water and sun family of totems. Thus rituals for these separations were done and allegiances were sworn. It was at this time that Vembe began to evolve into many dialects and languages. The tune Vembe (maVembe) was commissioned to recognize this point in history.

Bangiza (raitidzo)

../the revealer

As revealed by the Spirit, the collective exited Guruuswa 2, which was partially a desert to a much greener land– the Promised Land. Bangiza was then the tune that accompanied them on this journey.

Nyabango

../ Nya = proprietor,  Bango = corner pole.

Upon entering the Promised Land, unlike in Guruuswa 1, people through the spiritual guidance were given freedom and ownership of their own spaces. The joyousness gave birth to the tune Nyabango.

Taireva

../ we fore warned..

Chaminuka had way back prophesied on most of the significant incidences that would follow including the exiting of Guruuswa 2 and the Promised Land. He had also fore told about what would happen in the promised land; people fighting between themselves, greed, selfishness, people losing their identity, people opting for moral values that were not their own, people denouncing their own culture and history, forsaking their own spirituality, forsaking Hunhu, assimilating into foreign cultures and traditions, forsaking even the Promised land itself.

So Taireva Tune was now a direct statement from the Ancestors.

Chipindura

../Respond now

Chipindura Tune is again a direct statement from the Ancestors, whereby they are challenging us as to where we stand now, whether we are still united, whether we still care for each other, what identity do we carry now, whether we are still holding on to their initial national aspirations.

Garaurimo

../stay in there

This tune carries advice on what we should be; the Great Ancestors are saying, since you are one people, with the same Guardian Spirits, identity, race, history and understanding the same light you should stay united, your power is in your unity.

Where there is no unity there is no light, a people losing sight of their own history are bound to lose respect from those who know their own and they will consequently get lost. Stay together in unity. One who strays from the rest will surely perish. The song that goes with this tune is ‘imbwa yangu yaendayega’(my dog gone astray)

This is one of Dzimbanhete Arts Interactions’ research papers, with inspiration from Mr. Garikayi Tirikoti whose dream was purely musical, we at DAI have gone deeper bringing out the historical relevance and we endeavor to continue digging, now with an intend to see how Mbira music in Zimbabwe relates to that of other countries both in the east and so as the south.