ROPAFADZO MAPIMHIDZE (NewsDay Zimbabwe)
A YOUTHFUL musical group, Vatican Delegates, has taken Gweru by storm with their melodious and danceable mbira sounds.
The group leader, Michael Mukoko, said in an interview this week that they considered themselves a delegation from the Pope in Rome.
Established about two years ago, Vatican Delegates is now very popular in Gweru as they sing and dance at all sorts of functions.
They will also be performing at the Harare International Festival of the Arts next month in Harare.
A graduate from the Midlands Academy of Music, Mukoko said he was inspired by the late Taku Mafika who studied at the Midlands State University (MSU).
“Taku is my hero. Actually, people here say I play mbira like him. I learnt a lot from him when he was still a student at MSU,” he said.
Mukoko attributed their success to Father Mapwashike of the Gweru Diocese, who assisted them in producing a Christmas carols album entitled Gaudete (Latin) which means rejoice.
“This track has instrumental tracks like Silent Night, Joy to the World, Jingle Bells and our own composition titled Christmas Day which I composed and sang in English.
“Tuku, Jah Prayzah and Sam Mtukudzi are also some of the musicians that have influenced my musical career,” he said.
Vatican Delegates is a group that constitutes Catholics drawn from the local church choirs in Gweru.
Mukoko lamented that arts are not appreciated by Zimbabweans and added that his choice of the mbira instrument was to challenge the claims that the instrument is demonic.
“Mbira is a beautiful traditional piece of art. It’s an instrument that is unique and deeply rooted in our tradition and culture. It is no different from the guitar that plays rock and roll music which is also deemed to be demonic. But is it?” he queried.
Other members of the group include Tenfoni Matsivo on drums, Oskid Prince Tapfuma on keyboard and Tinaye Mlambo on congas.