Chimurenga revival at Book Cafe



Arts Correspondent
Chimurenga music lovers are in a for a treat tomorrow when the Book Café hosts a gig dubbed “Chimurenga Revival”, which coincides with Zimbabwe’s 35th Independence anniversary.

The gig brings together three performers Jairos Chabvonga, Washington Guveya and Vadzimba, as well as Talking Guitars who all pursue Chimurenga music.

Explaining how the idea of the gig came about, Thomas Brickhill, who has taken over the reins at the Book Cafe since his father’s passing away, had this to say: “Chimurenga music is part of our national heritage, but it is slowly losing ground top new genres such as dancehall, hip-hop and afro-pop, among others.

“We have come to a stage where Chimurenga music is now more popular in neighbouring countries like South Africa, yet we own the brand. I strongly believe we as the Book Café have a role to play in preserving our national heritage.

Brickhill, himself is an accomplished musician who fronts mbira punk group Chikwata 263.

Chabvonga and his Ngorimba Afro Fusion Band are on the list of the dwindling number of musicians pursuing Chimurenga music.

Armed with his debut eight-track album “Nevanji”, the Chitungwiza-bred musician has shared the stage with the likes of Jah Prayzah and Progress Chipfumo.

Chabvonga has already caught the eye of several promoters with one describing him as a force to reckon with in Chimurenga music circles.

“We are ready to keep the Chimurenga fire on. We are trying our best to save the genre and Saturday’s show is one of the events when we come together for the sake of the genre. We want Chimurenga fans to keep enjoying the music,” said Chabvonga.

Guveya, a self-confessed Chimurenga die-hard, insists he will not play any other music, even though he is open to collaborations with musicians who play other genres.

With a career that dates back to the 1980s, the Vadzimba frontman and lead guitarist has come a long way, despite suffering a lot of ups and downs along the road to stardom.

First the original Vadzimba suffered an acrimonious split, with the various band members going their separate ways. Guveya was forced to hang up his with his beloved guitar for informal jobs in Botswana and South Africa.

Comprising eight members, down from the original 10, Identity Band has been rechristened Vadzimba, Guveya says, in deference to his Chimurenga roots. Guveya says the group will sample some of their new songs such as “Muchatonga”, “Masoro, “Anokuperekedza”, “Vana vemuZimbabwe” and “Rudo RwaAmai” among others during tomorrow’s show.

Then there is Chirikure Chirikure who is a household name both in Zimbabwe and abroad. Born in Gutu in 1962, he is a poet, songwriter and writer.

He has written and translated a number of children’s stories and published some educational textbooks. Chirikure has also written lyrics for a number of leading Zimbabwean musicians and he occasionally performs with some of them.