Fans of traditional music rejoice as concerts resume


IN ONE of the rooms, Virimai Nhedega, a traditional Zimbabwean music player, sniffed a brownish substance known as ‘bute’ in preparation for a performance, one of the few events he has hosted this year. due to pandemic restrictions.

“I feel so happy because it has been a long time since we last met the public,” Nhedega told Xinhua. “The virtual shows we did don’t have the same punch as the live shows.”

“Watching the audience’s reaction gives you energy when you perform on stage,” he added.

Nhedega, who is passionately known as Vee Mhofu, is an avid player of mbira, a traditional Zimbabwean musical instrument consisting of a hardwood soundboard and has a series of thin metallic keys attached to its surface.

With his six-member musical group named Dziva Rembira, Nhedega aims to bring traditional Zimbabwean music to the international stage.

The traditional harmonies of the musical group are often mixed with other modern genres, giving them authentic traditional Zimbabwean music with a modern twist.

Traditional African drums are also included in their performances, and the synchronized rhythm of the mbira and drums creates a euphonic effect in the ears of the listener.

The powerful clicking sounds of the hosho, a traditional percussion instrument made from dried gourds filled with seeds, also add a vibrant and dense sound quality to the mbira and drums.

On stage, a group of immaculately dressed men performed traditional songs, leaving audiences in awe with their melodious tunes and energetic dances.

A large number of spectators followed the proceedings attentively, some regularly sniffing snuff.

In ancient times, the “bute” played an important role in spiritual healing among the Shona who constitute the majority of the Zimbabwean population, as it was used to connect to the spiritual realm and treat various illnesses.

As the sound of African drums thundered through the pub, several traditional music lovers from the audience spoke.

Memory Mutangira-Patare, an mbira enthusiast who spoke to Xinhua after the concert, was delighted that the performances had resumed.

“It was difficult for us during the COVID-19 pandemic, but now that the shows have resumed, we are very happy, we dance, we do whatever we want and that makes everyone happy,” he said. she declared.

“We were very happy, everyone here was very happy. We encourage Zimbabweans to come back to our culture so that everything runs smoothly, ”said Shamiso Madzima, a Nhedega fan.

Despite the return of music events, all social gatherings are still limited to 100 people to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Nhedega, who is also a talented actor, said his goal is to make traditional music attractive to young people.

Many young people in Zimbabwe regard traditional music as old, even demonic.

“It’s something new that we’re trying to introduce. We’re trying to attract a new generation of people, people our age who don’t appreciate mbira. We are bringing a new approach that has not been adopted by mbira players, ”he said.

The talented musician who started playing mbira at the age of 12 said that besides its cultural significance, mbira music has meditative and healing properties.

“Mbira plays many functions,” said Nhedega, who believed Mbira had healing powers for sick people.

Traditionally, music has been used to teach social values ​​and history, celebrate festivals, and help communities connect with their ancestors in the country.

James C. Tibbs