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Zengeza Mbira artist Masimba Matyatya (a.k.a weDande) is a man with a vision. He lives to see the day artists of this genre from across the surburbs of the city unite to form a body that is representative of their aspirations, challenges, needs and interests.

weDande, who leads the Dandemutande Crew with three releases to their name, is concerned that with the many mbira musicians scattered in Chitungwiza, there has not been much done to establish a centre where these ‘birds of the same feather’ can meet and interact in matters concerning their craft.

“From a traditional, cultural and spiritual perspective, we have a centre of cultural significance in Chitungwiza being the home of Chaminuka, but I feel we are failing to capitalize on that.

“Why is it that mbira musicians have to go to Harare to play at such places as The Volt (formerly Book Café) when we even have celebrated mbira players within our midst… it just boggles the mind”.

Wilfred “MaAfrica” Nyamasvisva who leads Mawungira eNharira is from Zengeza 1, and so is Sekuru Matemai, Lovemore Salary (Hungwe) who leads Madendera Ekumabvazuva, Tonderai Mbira Group, Sekuru Tsuro, Garikai Tirikoti (resident in Seke) and the group Madhonza Makuru.

The late Beaulla Dyoko and Thomas Wadharwa (a.k.a Sekuru Gora) also hailed from this city.

weDande says Chitungwiza needs a centre like Pakare Paye established by Mutukudzi in Norton where festivals and an annual event can be held, one grand one possibly at the burial site of the late spirit medium, Chaminuka, which place he says can also be preserved and converted into a tourist attraction just like Matopos where Cecil John Rhodes was interred.

“Murehwa has a Culture Centre and so many successful products have been churned from Amakhosi Theatre Arts in Bulawayo. Why has Chitungwiza not come up with something similar when we are called musha mukuru by people peeping at us from outside?,” laments weDande.

He says there could be nothing sinister about borrowing a leaf and even taking a template from the Harare International Festival of the Arts (HIFA) and coin a version along the same lines but with a different flavor altogether.

Considering its city status, Matyatya thinks it is high time the National Arts Council also had an office in Chitungwiza where the people are so as to save them from travelling all the way to Mount Pleasant where the nearest offices are located.

“It is high time they (NAC) considered decentralizing to this part of the country because the arts are not exclusively for the elite, but real talent is found at the grassroots, here in the ghetto.”

Matyatya, who is famed for his first album Tsiudzo which comes with a video went on to release his second, Dande Music Volume 2 and he is on the verge unleashing the third.

He has also done a song in English, Xenophibia (Together Africa Survive) whose video he was assisted to put together by Chitungwiza producer Dr Clarence. The idea behind penning the lyrics in English was to spread the message to as many listeners including foreign ones, so they could heed the call to shun xenophobia and pave way for peace to prevail.

Matyatya has previously been performing in Beit Bridge, but will soon be holding shows home in Chi-town where he says lies the umbilical cord.

He is a product of Chitungwiza Arts Centre and used to enjoy a good working relationship with Young Africa.  

Matyatya’s artistry is exhibited by his being able to handle the mbira dzevadzimu type of instrument which has 24-plus keys. Other mbira players can only play the nyonganyonga with eight or 10 keys.

Pix: Masimba Matyatya (weDande) with colleague Nesbert Rusero (Matemai) who features in some of his productions.

Mbira Centre, body overdue – weDande