Mbira (Lamellophone): by Tobias Dzandiwandira and sons

Mbira: gourd-resonated lamellophone in posession of Tobias Dzandiwandira and his sons: Nkono village, Manica, Mozambique 23.07.2014. Photo: Author, Video: Prof. Regine Allgayer-Kaufmann

Mbira (lamellophone), a musical instrument that was independently developed in many African countries, is most popular in the South-East Africa. The instrument is made of 22-28 lamellae (toungues) arranged in two ranks which are attached to a hardwood soundboard. The soundboard  is usually placed inside a large gourd to amplify the sound. On the outside of the the gourd, there are buzzers from bottle caps attached that give a sympathetic buzzling sound.

On a field trip to Mozambique with my colleague Prof. Regine Allagyer-Kaufmann, we encountered one famous mbira player, Tobias Dzandiwandira who¬† plays together with his sons in a band. He lives in the middle of the bush, close to the boarder with Zimbabwe. The traditional context for the mbira are in specific ceremonies that are used to invoke the presence of ancestors spirits. In the video above Tobias is showing us how the ancestors’ spirits are invoked through the dance called mabzyoka. In his hand he is carrying a special stick called ndonga that symbolizes the person being a leader.

Their songs are in chimanyika, a dialect of the shona language. “Kwenda kwa mbuya” is the title of the song which means going to the father.

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Bablofil says:

    Thanks, great article.

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