Home » Arts & Culture » Ammara’s Emotional Account

The environment was emotional and most people in the audience fought back tears when Ammara Brown, the stepdaughter to the late mbira exponent Chiwoniso Maraire, chronicled a touching account of their relationship, describing her stepmother as a cultural icon. The songstress said there were many facets to Chiwoniso.

“Most people knew her as an artist, but there was more to her. She was beautiful and her ‘light’ did not end on stage but would continue to shine.

“Through Chiwoniso I learnt that mbira is not a normal instrument, but it is very powerful as she was able to prove that no matter where she went in the world, she was able to effortlessly and selflessly share that ability and gift,” said Ammara.

She said this during a discussion on “Tribute to Chiwoniso Maraire” at Book Cafeacute recently titled “Chiwoniso Maraire: The Rebel Woman,The Flame Lily of Zim Music”.

Ammara almost broke down as she poured out her heart.

“Every time I spent with her, I felt warmness and I felt the connection to the instrument after having learnt it from an expert of such a kind.

“More importantly even long she is gone, the mbira is my step, it helps me to find the artist that I am. That I have to be so distinctively

Zimbabwean no matter where I go and for me this defines her as a cultural icon and she should be remembered.”

Professor Fred Zindi described Chiwoniso as a national cultural heritage.

“In her short but rich musical career, she became a national cultural heritage itself. As Stephen Chifunyise puts it, ‘she performed the most distinctive performing arts heritage of the Shona people clearly as a disciplined and appointed custodian of a mbira heritage with a mature handling of its intricate spirit’.

“In her stage performances, Chiwoniso did not only reminiscence her late father’s (Dumisani Maraire) passion for mbira music but also his respect for that cultural heritage which she rejuvenated in English,” said Prof Zindi.

Famous poet performer, Chirikure Chirikure defined Chiwoniso in other dimensions as an individual, human being, as an artist and as a friend. Chirikure said he was very fortunate to be part of the Maraire family experience in the early 90s.

“After our performance in Maputo with Chiwoniso in the early 2000s a military officer invited us to his house. The request was for Chiwoniso to play a solo mbira to his daughter in her mother’s hands because the father appreciated Chiwoniso’s music.

“I have seen Chiwoniso in so many different situations and reactions in so many ways but in that particular experience I saw a completely different Chiwoniso from the Chiwoniso I have known all my life.

“She was in between tears, smiling and singing. She said ‘I am not a spirit medium’ but in a number of ways I could feel there was something in her which was beyond a natural being,” said Chirikure.

The event included premiering of her videos, a slide show of her pictures on stage and trips with friends.

It ended with a musical concert where a number of musicians including her own band Vibe Culture performed.

Source : The Herald