Santa Cruz Good Times

Tuesday
Oct 21st
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

In their Footsteps

music_MbiradzeMuninga1Zimbabwean ensemble Mbira dzeMuninga honors the past, inspires the future

Remember concerts before artists teamed up with Ticketmaster and Live Nation? Mbira dzeMuninga sure does. Band members of the Zimbabwean ensemble recreate the mbira and hosho-laden music of their Shona ancestors: inhabitants of southern Mozambique and northeastern Botswana, who once performed in the most intimate and dimly lit of venues—caves.

Although no longer performing “in the cave,” as the second half of their name, “dzeMuninga,” suggests—the well-sought-after act journeyed as far as Oregon, for the 2011 Zimbabwean Music Festival, Zimfest, in August—the five gwenyambiras, or “master mbira players,” make their own instruments, wear clothes made of cheetah, goat, and cow skins combined with buckskin leather, and mesmerize audiences with their musical narratives, inspired by the experiences of their ancestors.

“When we play this music, we will be singing songs for joy and people will be dancing,” says Tonderai Ndava, from Harare. The youngest member of the group, Ndava is renowned for his hweva (rhythm) mbira playing and outrageous dancing. The joy he refers to belongs to the Zimbabwe of the past, a country that wasn’t in the midst of economic turmoil, unlike present-day Zimbabwe—still tremendously downcast from the war in the Democratic Republic of Congo and the demise of the Zimbabwean dollar.

“The songs are about suffering,” says Ndava. “People who understand the language start crying.” But you don’t have to speak Zimbabwean to feel moved by the distinct, yet cohesive blend of chant-like voices, plucking of the mbira/kalimba (thumb piano), rattling of several pairs of hosho (gourd shakers) and the rhythmic drumbeats created by Ndava and his bandmates: Peacheson Ngoshi on nhovapasi (bass) mbira; Jacob Mafuleni on ngoma (drums); Micah Munhemo—the sekuru or “elder”—on nheketo (high lead) mbira; and dancer Martha Thom.

music_MbiradzeMuninga2The dynamic five-piece formed surprisingly recently—January of 2009—although most of the members played mbira and other conventional African instruments in the group, Mawungira Enharira, for several years before. Mbira dzeMuninga released its debut album, Muninga—recorded in the ensemble’s homeland and mastered in Washington—that same year, containing seven tracks, including standouts “Shanje” and “Zbovanepi,” with calming chimes of mbiras and distressed, yet hopeful-sounding vocals.

The group members’ desire to remain positive, despite their country’s hardships, shines through in all aspects of their musical careers. Besides putting on large-scale performances on tour, the members—who are unanimously inspired by “all types of music in the world,” according to Mafuleni—teach individual and group singing, dancing and instrument lessons, in addition to conducting small workshops on mbira making.

“We like to teach because we get to meet new people who are really into the music, and [that] inspires us to be good teachers and share our music,” says Peacheson Ngoshi, affectionately called “Peaches.”

Ndava chimes in, “This instrument that I play is amazing … when you listen to mbira, you really feel something spiritual—we want to teach others this music.”

For the first time since 2009, Mbira dzeMuninga—with the exception of Munhemo and the addition of Thom—returns to Don Quixote’s Sunday, before heading back to their homeland. So don’t miss out on this rare opportunity to experience world music at its finest—“This music changes people,” says Ndava. “It can change you.”


Mbira dzeMuninga plays at 7 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 4, at Don Quixote’s, 6275 Hwy 9, Felton. Tickets are $12. 603-2294.
Comments (0)Add Comment

Write comment
smaller | bigger

busy
 

Share this on your social networks

Bookmark and Share

Share this

Bookmark and Share

 

Field Work

Santa Cruz Mountain winemakers explain how the harvest works, and what kind of wine to expect from this year's crop

 

Libra's Two Choices

Libra (our last week) is the sign of creating right relations and values. In Libra we are asked to choose how to be, our identity in the world. We can maintain a hermetic sealed-off attitude (my life, my work, my money, etc.) or we can gain knowledge of world events and learn more about those in need. Libra is a group sign—self with others. Here are some events occurring in our world this week concerning food, poverty, spirituality, values and global realities. The UN (a spiritual experiment) each month places a “light” upon world problems. This week a light shines on Rural Women, Farms, Food & Poverty. Before we choose to respond we must have knowledge. “So we can each do our part.” Oct. 15 - International Day of Rural Women (unrecognized with few resources); Oct. 16 - World Food Day & Family Farming: Feeding the World, Caring for the Earth; Oct. 17 - Eradication of Poverty Day (international). During the month of Libra (with Saturn exalted), we pause, contemplate and assess what it is we know, don’t know, and need to know. Libra receives and distributes Ray 3 of divine intelligence, right relations, right choice and right economy (Venus). Use your intelligence “tips the Libran scales” in terms of being able to see and then choose between the two paths Libra offers (return to the past or step forward into Scorpio’s Discipleship). Libra (the oscillating light) prepares us for the great tests and conflicts in Scorpio. In Libra we are subtly tested as we learn the nature of polarized energies (s/he loves me, s/he loves me not). In Libra we learn more about ourselves through others. Libra’s Ray 3 asks us to become more adaptable and skillful. And then we are to teach each other what we know. In Libra, we all become teachers. In all these ways love is cultivated.

 

The New Tech Nexus

Community leaders in science and technology unite to form web-based networking program

 

Docs Without Borders

United Nations Association Film Festival showcases documentaries from around the globe
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments

 

Nut Kreations

Co-owner Craig Olsen goes nuts over nuts

 

What artist or artists participating in the encore weekend of Open Studios should not be missed?

Santa Cruz | Teacher

 

Martin Ranch Winery

Friends who are wine club members of Martin Ranch invited us to the winery’s fun and festive annual barbecue, where the wine is flowing and the food just keeps on coming. Music and dancing are part and parcel of the action, and a good time is guaranteed.

 

Beer Bus

Santa Cruz’s new Brew Cruz, award winning ales, mole by el Jardín, and Wildcat Ridge Chardonnay