Home » Arts & Culture » Stella Chiweshe to Launch ‘Chivanhu Trust’ At Book Cafe

Mbuya Rambisai Stella Chiweshe is set to host public discussions at the Book Cafe with a view to launch “Chivanhu Trust”. The three-day discussions will be held on June 5, June 16 (to coincide with the anniversary of the Soweto youth uprising) and on July 8.

The “Chivanhu Trust”, created and conceived by Mbuya Chiweshe, seeks to reignite the spirit and passion for Zimbabwean cultural legacy, especially amongst the youth.

More than this, the vision behind the trust is to accord elderly folk of Zimbabwe their traditional respected role in social life by understanding and listening to their wisdom.

In this way, youth and elders become connected so younger members of society may understand their own legacy. One African proverb says “Wisdom is like a baobab tree no one person can embrace it”, another says “When an old person dies, a library burns to the ground”.

Mbuya Chiweshe is the great grand-daughter of VaMunaka, who was the medium of Tateguru Kaguvi the resistance fighter beheaded by the British. Not only did she fight the colonial mentality that prohibited and discouraged indigenous worship, mbira and spiritual activities to honour ancestors who pass the prayers to our creator, she also took on gender role reversal by playing the Mbira that was mostly played only by men those days.

It was not easy for her to convince people that a woman could master the instrument. Refusing to be relegated to the role of an Mbira spectator, she was driven from within to convince her uncles and grandparents to teach her how to play the mbira.

After two years trying to persuade her uncles to teach her, Mbuya Stella Chiweshe finally gained instruction from one of her mother’s uncles.

For over 40 years and counting, Mbuya Chiweshe has blazed a trail. During the colonial era, Mbuya Chiweshe was risking imprisonment performing at “underground” mbira ceremonies. Her very first single in 1974, “Kasahwa” recorded at Teal Record Company, went gold.

After Independence Mbuya Chiweshe trained in stage work for five years from 1981 to 1985 with the National Dance Company of Zimbabwe. She was a dancer, musician, actress and also took on other roles. She integrated marimba with mbira in 1986, a ground-breaking innovation at the time.

Critics suggested she was dishonouring tradition but for her, marimba and mbira served the same spiritual purpose. By integrating the two, Mbuya Chiweshe persuaded many young people to understand their heritage, at a time when youth were disoriented from colonial disinformation.

Mbuya Stella likens the 23 keys of her mbira to 23 voices. She says the unwritten lyrics of songs can come through dreams and visions so deep that only few may understand them. Mbira music has powerful spiritual qualities for those who appreciate Zimbabwean culture.

She has since won international acclaim, bringing the spirit of Mbira to many parts of the world.

Source : The Herald

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