Yesterday there was a great post on Facebook by The Mbira Centre which anyone seriously interested in the story of mbira in Zimbabwe should see. Many thanks to The Mbira Centre for the permission to re-post here on Zvembira.
By The Mbira Centre
Frontman, artistic director and Gonamombe’s mbira maker Sekuru Gora (Thomas Wadharwha), David & Daniel Gwanzura, Madhanaga, Bernard Chiponda, Tute Chigamba and Albert Chimedza. Chigamba and Chimedza are not in the image. The band was formed towards the end of 1995 by Albert Chimedza who still leads it to this day.
The band played mbiras specifically conceived for an mbira orchestra by Albert Chimedza. The instruments were constructed by Sekuru Gora. Prototypes were completed in 1996 and first tested by Gora, Chimedza, Chigamba and one of his sons, possibly Garadziva. The instruments had an overlapping five octave range spread on three instruments. 2 players (David and Daniel Gwanzura) played high range instruments for color, 3 players (Albert Chimedza, Madhananga and Bernard Chiponda) played mid range instruments to provide the rhythm section while Gora and Chigamba played the bass mbiras. The group’s vocalists were Gora and Madhananga. Generally the group played without hosho and ngoma except when specifically requested by a client to do so.
These images were taken in the Harare suburb of Kuwadzana in 1997 shortly after the group had returned from performing at the Umbria Jazz Festival and Villa Ada in Rome as part of their tour of Italy. During the tour the group also performed at various other venues and festivals and were the subject of a television film “Jazz Tales”. The film was commissioned by Italian television channel RAI International and directed by Albert Chimedza.
When the images were taken Albert was still in Italy finishing “Jazz Tales”. Tute Chigamba had left the group prior to the tour but continued to, on and off, perform with Gonamombe until 2007 when he was part of the Gonamombe edition that performed at the New Crowned Hope Festival in Vienna, Austria.
Various permutations of Gonamombe have continued to perform over the years. Since 2007 the group has, among other performances, performed and collaborated with international artists in Zimbabwe during the Harare International Festival of the Arts (HIFA) in 2008 and 2011, at festivals in Java, Indonesia in 2007 and 20011. The group also performed on the occasion of The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) 150th anniversary in February 2013 and with the internationally renowned Zimbabwean band Mokoomba during Mbira Month in Harare in September of the same year.