By Richmore Tera.
Harare, Zimbabwe. (News of The South) – WITH Chimurenga music guru Dr Thomas Mapfumo now based in the United States, Mbuya Stella Chiweshe domiciled in Germany, talented songbird Chioniso Maraire late and Mbira Dzenharira and Mawungira Enharira seeming to be pale shadows of their former selves, there is great fear that no one is really taking the traditional mbira music seriously at the music apex.
This is the genre that defined and still defines the roots and fabric of Zimbabwean music, with the afore-mentioned artistes having earned their rainbow colours from playing it to an international audience that was entranced by it.
By holding the world captive through the traditional mbira sound, some of these artistes either contributed to a dilution of the original feel of the music that was and still is at the backbone of Zimbabwean traditions and culture.
Other artistes, on the other hand, had themselves totally swallowed and immersed into foreign cultures thus ‘vanishing’ together with them the pin-codes of the original mbira music of yore.
At least this is the general feeling that runs through a certain sector of the Zimbabwean society, some musicians constituted.
One of such artistes who feels that Zimbabwean musicians need to retrace their steps back to the original Zimbabwean traditional music vibe which has the real mbira at its core is none other than female musician, Tryphine Tigere-Foya, otherwise known as Mai Foya in music circles.
Together with the traditional beat, Mai Foya also laments the erosion of traditional values of Unhu/ Ubuntu which she says have left our Zimbabwean culture exposed.
Speaking to her, Mai Foya also revealed that she has since reverted to playing traditional mbira music and not her usual ‘gospel’ music.
Asked about her shift from ‘gospel’ to mbira, Mai Foya had this say: “It wasn’t a difficult transition at all. Hatina kubva ku gospel tichienda kubhawa (The shift that I made was not a big one.) I just realised that it was high time that as a musician I have to revert to the traditional beat and use it to spread the gospel of remoulding our traditional values that have been eroded and are now on the verge of extinction.
“In fact, one can play mbira while singing gospel music. Mbira, as some people would like to put it, is not a pagan instrument but is actually one of those instruments which the Bible mentions among those music instruments which people can use to praise God. So what I have done here is that I have taken the gospel to another arena and I am spreading it from there,” said Mai Foya, who has since changed her hairstyle. She now sports a crop of dreadlocks which are well looked-after, judging from their looks.
To complete her transition, Mai Foya has released an eight-track mbira album titled “Tsika Dzedu”.
Its title says it all, just like how the musician herself puts it in her own words.
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