Last year, at the 3rd edition of Imibala, which we hosted at Alliance Francaise in Port Elizabeth, we had great representation of amazing people from all around the world. One of them was young artist from Zimbabwe, Evanthea Chiwara. Evanthea plays one of the national instrument’s of Zimbabwe, one of the coolest things we have ever seen!
Evanthea: I am an afro jazz artist. I play an instrument called a nyunga-nyunga mbira. It is an instrument that was founded in Mozambique and then modified in Zimbabwe. Mbira was used in Zimbabwe during ceremonies and for story telling. The nyunga nyunga is an instrument which has 15 keys, originated from Manicaland where it traditionally played the entertainment role during social gatherings and commemorations. Jeke (Jack) Tapera introduced the mbira nyunga nyunga in the 1960s from Tete province of Mozambique to Kwanongoma College of African music in Bulawayo. Two keys were then added to make fifteen in two rows. The mbira nyunga nyunga is similar in construction to the mbira dzavadzimu (“voice of the ancestors“), but has no hole in the soundboard. Key pitch radiates out from the center, rather than from left to right.
And how did it all start?
Evanthea: I started doing music in 3rd grade and when I got to high school I did music as my practical subject. That is also when I started playing mbira. I also did marimba (xylophone), piano, recorder +and melodica. I started my musical journey in 2018 by doing short videos on facebook and also playing for small gatherings.
Last year Evanthea performed the nyunga nyunga live at the Imibala festival and it was so beautiful that inspired one of our international team members to buy a Kalimba which is a westernized version of the Mbira adapted by Hugh Tracey, South African ethnomusicologist. The Kalimba is a bit easier version of Mbira. Clearly, Imibala inspires 😉
Evanthea: I was part of the 3rd Imibala Arts Festival in 2019 which was a great experience for me! I hope this year I will be part of it again! This year I have been working on a new song and I was hoping to release an album at the end of this year, but because of the pandemic everything is slow.
If you want to stay updated and hear Evanthea live follow her on her social media!