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Conceptualized over 1,000 years ago, the mbira is used in ceremonies of healing and personal meditation, and incorporates a canon of songs that are offered as prayers. The mbira is particularly associated with the ancestors, spirits of loved ones who no longer walk the earth but are still among us offering guidance and comfort.
The ndoro is an emblem personified by the spiral shape of the mollusk shell. These shells were rarely found in land-locked Zimbabwe. Because of their rarity, the ndoro spiral became an insignia of spiritual power and are considered a link to the ancestral realm.
Ndoro Dze Madzinza (“emblem of Africa’s clans, linking us to our ancestors”) is a collection of mbira songs and an expression of appreciation for the richness and beauty Shona and Pan-African traditions.
Song List and Descriptions
Click on title to hear a sample!
- Chigwaya – In honor of the Njuzu, (mermaid Spirits) who are much loved because they bring wealth and protection.
- Chipembere – The name means “rhinoceros”.
- Kanhurura – The name alludes to “something small used to get something big”, such as an object utilized to pick fruit off of a high branch. May be used in ceremony to entice the Spirit to come, because the melody is considered to be so beautiful that they cannot ignore it. This is also an example of nhetete style – soft music played toward the end of a ceremony as everyone gathers to hear what the Spirits have to say.
- Shumba Ya Ngwasha The song refers to an in-law who works very hard.
- Nyama Musango “There is meat in the forest.” So, go out and get what you need. Don’t wait for what you need to come to you.
- Chimentengure One of the five types of lamellophones typically played in Zimbabwe, it has a very different key arrangement and repertory than the mbira dza vadzimu. Karimba are typically played for entertainment, rather than for ceremony.
- Mukai Tiende “Wake up, let’s go!” Played to awaken us to do what it is we need to do.
- Nhema Musasa One of the oldest and most popular songs in the 1000 year old canon of repertoire, the name means ‘to build as temporary shelter in the forest’.
- Baya Wa Baya “Stab after stab”. Played for Kurova Guva ceremonies to welcome home the wandering Spirit of a deceased relative.
- Karigamombe “Undefeatable, one who cannot be knocked to the ground.” Although this song is typically the very first one learned by new mbira students, it is regularly played in ceremonies.