Magaya preserving traditional mbira music

15 Sep, 2019 - 00:09 0 Views

The Sunday Mail

Francis Mashinya

MBIRA, a classic creation that has left its mark on the Zimbabwean culture, produces vibrant and joyful music, thereby giving a real sense of Africa.

Those who have played it and listened to the music it produces have a story to tell.

The Cultural Arts and Education Centre, popularly known as Humwe, is nestled in Mhondoro, Mashonaland West. It is the citadel of the mbira instrument. Cosmas Magaya, the man behind Humwe, is trying to preserve traditional Zimbabwean music. He is grooming young mbira players through Humwe.

However, Magaya remains largely unnoticed in music circles.

He believes that traditional music is the foundation of the country’s music.

“My aim is to preserve mbira music through supporting and inspiring students to study and perform. They also need to understand the cultural and spiritual context in which music is played in Zimbabwe,” said Magaya.

His students’ mbira is complemented by marimba, hosho, singing and dancing.

During the dances, the students carry water laden clay pots on their heads. This is an African way of welcoming visitors and giving them drinking water.

The Humwe students also play Mbakumba, Muchongoyo, Jerusarema and Mhande, whose roots are in Masvingo, Chipinge, Murehwa and the Midlands Province respectively.

The Humwe Trust pays school fees for its 35 students drawn from different schools. Mbira and marimba lessons are conducted during weekends and school holidays.

In partnership with Erica Azim of, Magaya is also running a project that has seen Zimbabwean mbira music being recorded and distributed in the United States of America.

This has seen mbira players earning the much-needed foreign currency.

“In the USA, anti-piracy laws are strictly enforced, thus enabling me to give back to my community,” said Magaya.

Magaya has worked with Mhuri yokwaRwizi, Mhuri yokwaMujuru Mbira Ensemble and the late Mbuya Dyoko.

Humwe is funded by Magaya, his daughter Tsitsi Magaya and some of his USA-based students and friends.

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