Chiwoniso: Celebrating A Musical Genius

Thursday 24 July

5.30pm – Discussion

8pm – Tribute Concert

Book Café (139 S. Machel Avenue, Cnr 6th Street)


Musical genius and mbira songstress, the late Chiwoniso Maraire will on Thursday become the first artist to be incorporated into the Book Café’s Hall of Fame. The posthumous award, an affirmation of Chiwoniso’s musical brilliance, is a sparkle in the musician’s career which redefined boundaries endearing itself to many souls around the world.


A year after her untimely death the world still sings and dances to her enchanting voice and magical mbira lines. In commemoration of her life and musical brilliance, Chiwoniso’s band Vibe Culture, Book Café and Pamberi Trust will on Thursday host a show titled, “Tribute to Chiwoniso Maraire.”


Musicians such as Prudence Katomene Mbofana, Eve Kawadza, Nyamasvisva weMawungira eNharira, Bengt Post, Norman Masamba, Freedom Manatsa, Dennis Mushaishi, Rumbi Tavaziva, Tomas Brickhill, Mike Hellz, Verity Norman, Ba Shupi, Cde Fatso, Dischord & Pauline of Mafriq and Victor Kunonga among others will grace the event.


The Tribute is going to kick off with a discussion titled “Chiwoniso Maraire: The Rebel Woman, The Flame Lily of Zimbabwean Music,” from 5:30-7pm at Book Café. It will be chaired by musicologist Extra-Blessings Kuchera who is the co-founder of Mbiravolution. Panellists will include music writer Professor Fred Zindi, Tsungi Zvobgo an arts manager who worked extensively with Chiwoniso, and poet Chirikure Chirikure who collaborated with Chiwoniso. The discussion will focus on Chiwoniso’s impact in the lives of the people around her, her music and spirituality.


“Chiwoniso Maraire was phenomenal. She was an ambassador of Zimbabwean cultural heritage which we still enjoy to date. She lives on in all of us,” said Fred Zindi.


If there is one thing that the mbira songstress did with utmost and excellent ability it was musical collaborations. She collaborated with musicians all across the globe such as Baba Mao, Sakaki Mango, Suki Africa and Max Wilde among others. Locally, she collaborated with her late husband Andy Brown and stepdaughter Ammara Brown, Jah Prayzah, Chikwata 263, Sulu, Tuku among others. The magic that brought it all together lay in her nyunga nyunga and mellifluous voice.


“The name ‘Chiwoniso’ in Shona means ‘a light’; a touch which enables us to see in the dark. Her art, her legacy is exactly that – a bright light that will never fade,” said renowned poet, Chirikure Chirikure.


Chiwoniso infused the nyunga nyunga mbira instrument with a spirit at once new, refreshing and cosmopolitan making her music reach millions across the globe.  What Chiwoniso did with the nyunga nyunga, a fifteen key instrument, was simply magical.


In spite of her global appeal, Chiwoniso always gave the best of herself whenever she performed locally, especially at Book Café which was like her second home, enchanting music lovers with fast mbira rhythms that can only be described as ethnically cosmopolitan. With her genius she took what was essentially ethnically a Zimbabwean sound, and encoded it with a highly unique way of plucking the nyunga nyunga keys layered over with socially and spiritually conscious lyricism.


“Chi, my friend, my sister, forever living. I knew Chi the musician but knew Chi the person better, her gorgeous, talented self, Chi the always loving, mother and Zimbabwean icon but Chi, was a humble soul, she loved nothing else but music and I guess that is what makes her extra special, she played and sang and danced because the music and dance and song came from within, even when the rest of us couldn’t hear it,” said Alice Knuth, a close friend to the late Chiwoniso.


“When I last saw Chi, she said to me ‘don’t worry love we have lots of gigs when I come out of this place” those words gives me the strength to keep the band going. I worked with Chii for almost 10 years and all the years were a learning process for me, no one can ever replace her or fill the shoes she was in because she was very powerful as an artist, as a friend, as a sister and as mother. I will forever cherish what she taught me and the memories we had. No words can really explain the Chii that I knew but all I can say is I’ll forever carry you in my heart,” said Rumbi.


“I was standing with Chi in the midst of the crowd as Baba Maal played the main stage at HIFA, and within a minute or two he spotted her amongst the crowd, put his set on pause to invite her onto stage for an impromptu collaboration. She rocked it, just like she always did. Chi was a rock star and it is a great honour to have played on stage with her; even more so to have had her as a friend,” said Tomas Brickhill.


The ever loving and caring songstress affectionately known as Sister Chi was and is still a name that has shape the Zimbabwe music and raised the flag of the country in different corners of the world. Daughter to two musical parents Doctor Abraham Dumisani Maraire and Linda Nemarundwe Maraire, Chi grew to be a master in mbira playing, singing and a music guru. In the 37 years of her life Chi managed to create and be part of 4 master pieces that is, “Ancient Voices”, “Timeless”, “Hupenyu Kumusha, Life at Home, Impilo Ekhaya. The Collaboration: Volume 1” and “Rebel Woman”.


Ethnomusicologist Hector Rufaro Mugani said, “Chiwoniso Maraire is the mother of the new generation of young mbira players. All of them look up to them as a point of inspiration, especially the Nyunga Nyunga players. She managed to reincarnate the mbira giving it what the young ones call swaga. She extensively experimented with the mbira. She is a goddess and her name, her spirit, her sound will never die.”


On the day Book Café is launching their Hall of Fame and Chiwoniso Maraire will be the first to enter. Besides the posthumous award, Chiwoniso was a decorated musician honoured by Radio France (“Decouverte Afrique”) for her debut album, Ancient Voices, also nominated in Kora All-Africa Music Awards for Best Female Vocals of Africa in 1999 and her album also entered the Music Charts Europe three times.


Of all Zimbabwean musicians, Chiwoniso gave the mbira, considered as one of Zimbabwe’s most ancient musical instrument which has withstood the test of time a new breath of life with an unprecedented global reach.

With her mellifluous voice, Chiwoniso carved herself a niche in the annals of not only local but global musical history.


Thurs 24, 5.30pm, Public Discussion: “CHIWONISO ‘CHII’ MARAIRE: REBEL WOMAN – FLAME LILY OF ZIMBABWEAN MUSIC” - presentations on the late mbira legend’s impact on the Zimbabwean and international music scenes by PROF. FRED ZINDI, TSUNGI ZVOBGO, AMMARA BROWN and CHIRIKURE CHIRIKURE – Free, all welcome.

Thurs 24, 8pm, TRIBUTE TO CHIWONISO – a concert to commemorate the ‘Rebel Woman’, featuring a host of her musical friends CHIRIKURE CHIRIKURE, PRUDENCE KATOMENI, EDITH weUTONGA, NYAMASVISVA, BA SHUPI, VICTOR KUNONGA and many more, backed by Chiwoniso’s former backing band VIBE CULTURE – cc$5 (proceeds to Chiwoniso’s daughters)

Fri 25, 6pm, InVision Studios present IN SHORT 7 - The latest edition in a series of short films by young Zimbabwean film-makers, with the première of the ‘insanely cool’ new film ‘ODIUM’ which features Stephen Chigorimbo, Wilhelm Olivier and Denise Edwards. Don’t miss it – FREE, all welcome.

Fri 25, 7pm, Garden stage: MBIRA FRIDAY with MAWUNGIRA ENHARIRA – one of Harare’s top mbira ensembles, led by gwenyambira NYAMASVISVA - cc$5 (entry 6th Street gate)


Fri 25, 8pm, TRANSIT CREW - Zimbabwe’s longest running reggae band, still going strong with a roots rock reggae vibe - cc$5

Sat 26, 11am-6pm, CRAFT FAIR – “Art & Fashion Frenzy” with an art exhibition by DAVID CHINYAMA just back from his tour of France; great deals from Zimbabwean fashion designers, clothes, jewellery, bags, sandals and more; FOOD AS CULTURE presents authentic Ethiopian and Traditional Zimbabwean Cuisine. PLUS Live music from JABAVU DRIVE! Entry: Free!

Sat 26, 8pm,  Urban soul from crowd favourite ALEXIO & SHADES OF BLACK deliver a great show of soulful contemporary Zimbabwean music. Opening with NORMAN MASAMBA - cc$5

Mon 28, 6pm, BOOK CAFÉ OPEN MIC – So You Think You Got Talent?  Bring it on!  The hottest jam party in town: poets, comedians, singers, dancers, musicians, bands – come register with the MC before 6pm – FREE, All welcome!

Tues 29, 5.30pm, ALBUM LAUNCH – “DZIMBAHWE” by BREZHNEV GUVEYA – with support from Tendai Mavengeni. Come and be part of this exciting launch and get a chance to BUY the album at a SPECIAL Launch Price! – Entry: FREE

Tues 29, 7pm, AFRICAN PRIDE -  rising stars on the Zimbabwean music scene, back-to-back with the lively young singer-songwriter TINA WATYOKA – cc$3

Wed 30, 5.30pm – GETTING TEENS READING – Harare City Library presents a public talk and discussion with the FunDza Literacy Trust (South Africa) on how they are developing a reading culture with books and cellphones – FREE, all welcome.

Wed 30, 8pm, WEDDY WEDDY WEDNESDAY! With MACY & THE RED: “One Planet One Vibe One Love” – Taking the freedom to express themselves in many genres, from reggae to rock, and afro to pop – without limitations!  – cc$5

Thurs 31, 5.30pm, BOOK LAUNCH: “THE SASKAM EXPRESS” by LILIAN MASITERA – a book about the trials and tribulations of the unemployed, expertly portrayed…Meet the author and her inspiring team of young female mbira players. FREE, all welcome.

Thurs 31, 8pm, THE SUPER BAND – an All-Star ensemble of women from diverse musical backgrounds: RUTE MBANGWA (Jazz), TINA WATYOKA (Afro-Pop), EDITH weUTONGA (Contemporary Traditonal) and CAROLINE ‘MASA’ MASAWI’s new and unique sound, backed by some of Zim’s finest instrumentalists – cc$5

Fri 01 Aug, 11am, ROOTS launches the ‘NOT RIPE FOR MARRIAGE’ CAMPAIGN - with a delegation of speakers and representatives from relevant ministries (Gender, Justice, Social Welfare), members of the apostolic sect, Unicef, ASRH Forum, National Young People’s Network on SRH and HIV, NGOs, private sector companies, artistes, media – FREE, all welcome!


Fri 01 Aug, 5pm, ZIBF LITERARY READINGS by leading Zimbabwean authors – FREE, all welcome.

Fri 01 Aug, 7pm, Garden stage: MBIRA FRIDAY with MAWUNGIRA ENHARIRA – one of Harare’s top mbira ensembles, led by gwenyambira NYAMASVISVA - cc$5 (entry 6th Street gate)

Fri 01 Aug, 8pm, KUMABHEBHI: Masquerade Concert - featuring CINDY & CLARE, backed by live band, with PATIENCE MUSA as guest DJ +++ Lots of Prizes to be won! – cc$10 (VIP $20)

Sat 02, 2pm, House Of Hunger POETRY SLAM – the longest running poetry platform in Zimbabwe, celebrating its 9th Anniversary, with a commemoration of its POETIC HEROES, including Dambudzo Marechera, Julius Chingono and Olly Maruma. Come feel the energy!  Poets to register with the slam master before 2pm - FREE, all welcome!

Sat 02, 5.30pm, PEARL NATASHA – join this LISTENING PARTY where the young songstress will be introducing her new band and giving you a taste of their hot new sound – Free, all welcome!

Sat 02, 8pm, MIC INITY & THE RED RADICALS – lovaz rock reggae - cc$5


Activity Report Feedback from ZESN Public Meeting:    An analysis of the Electoral Amendment Bill on   10th of April 2014

See the link for a report on the meeting ZESN Activity Update 100414 - for news about the Creative Sector in Zimbabwe

NPAAC Newsletter November 2013

ZITA Newsletter October

Nhimbe Newsletter October

Nhimbe-NPAAC September Newsletter - news from the cultural scene back home

Masakhaneni Newsletter - Have a look at this very interesting newsletter which covers the pre-election 2013 and post-election period



1 July 2013: Harare News –

Community Newspaper and online website launched

New – Zimbabwe Theatre Association launches newsletter – click on link below

ZiTA%20Newsletter-LAUNCH%20EDITION - Positive outlook from outgoing Ambassador Charles Ray


 CARA and Econet have  installed ‘Life Size’ video conference equipment into a College of Health Science Lecture Hall on the University of Zimbabwe’s main campus.

 ‘Virtual Lectures’ will be streamed in  to support the College of Health Science and the Faculties of Science and Veterinary Science in  areas currently lacking teaching staff, or who could benefit from engagement with the diaspora and/or international partnerships.


Population Census in Zimbabwe 18-28 August – how many people are in Zimbabwe? For more info click on 2012 Zimbabwe Population Census

Dear Friends,
Some of you may be interested in this new blog, which discusses some
current issues in Zimbabwe, based on my recent experiences as Director
at Hlekweni. I’d especially appreciate comments from Zimbabweans, at:

With thanks and in Friendship,
Craig Barnett