Weighing in on everything from avocados to Zimbabwe

Weighing in on everything from avocados to Zimbabwe

America to Zim: Days 24-28

posted by Leila Z. on

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It has been a quiet week here at Bushbaby, and there hasn't been much of interest to any but the most diehard mbira fanatics -- which is part of why I haven't posted recently. The other part is that I've been busy learning mbira, which requires lots of practicing, especially to keep them straight as the parts pile up. Here's a quick summary of the week:

Monday was a teaching day with mbira maker Gift Rushambwa. He is another amazing mbira player and a very good teacher, and taught us parts for a version of Nhema musasa yepasi. He's also a colorful character, and liked interacting with the students even with limited English. Somewhat less desirably, he also enjoyed, say, 6 or 7 beers over the course of the late afternoon/early evening, so by the time he got to playing with the students, he was somewhat less charming. For me, he stopped me in the middle of playing Dande to tell me the part I was playing (which I had learned from a teacher earlier in the workshop) was not good on nyamaropa tuning. During playing with Pablo, he stopped altogether and left (maybe to pee? Who knows) for 10 minutes (a somewhat perturbed looking Erica took over). Humph.

Gift talks to Gulla, pre-beer
Things were calmer on Wednesday when mbira maker Josephat Mandaza came and taught us a singing song, Tambarara... (The name is much longer but I have forgotten the rest), about dealing with a troublesome person in the village. Mandaza turned out to be an amiable guy and another good teacher (although the song he taught was not too difficult).

From left: Gulla, Erica, Mandaza, and Professor Peter, on the steps where we have lessons
Today is the last teaching day, and we have been learning different parts to Nhema musasa from the Pamuchakata Mbira Group, a rocking group from Chiweshe made up of two fathers and two sons. It has been another head stuffing day -- in addition to the four parts I learned from them this morning, I also leaned a few parts late yesterday from Erica and Gulla which are also taking up some real estate in my short term memory. But I figure it's the last day; I might as well go big.

Pamuchakata rocks out on the teaching steps
Tomorrow is my last day in Zimbabwe. There will be a party (barbecue, really) during the day, for us students and for all the teachers we have seen these two weeks, plus a few others. The guest list reads like a who's who in mbira: Fradreck Mujuru, Matemai Newton Gwara, Leonard Chiyanike, among others. Should be a fun time with lots of good food and even better music!

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