This is the blog for our project Matepe 21st – Documenting Chaka Chawasarira’s reportoire, which started mid-May 2023 at Chawasarira’s home in Chitungwiza, Zimbabwe.
The goal of the project is to document the entire matepe repertoire of 82-year old master musician Chaka Chawasarira, as well as his instrument building process. The outcome will be made available online and distributed via music schools and cultural centres in the country, free of charge.
The matepe is a mbira (lamellophone) from Northeast Zimbabwe and adjecent regions of Mozambique. It is arguably the most sophisticated mbira in terms of construction, [overtone] tuning, and playing technique. It is played with four fingers, often each with their own rhythmic pattern.
Unfortunately, the matepe has become very rare. According to recent research, there’s only a good handful of master musicians who play their full regional repertoire, and only two experienced makers of the instrument in the country.
The project team:
- Chaka Chawasarira
- Stefan Franke, creator of the Sympathetic Resonances learning platform for mbira
- Othnell “Mangoma” Moyo, professional musician and ethnomusicological researcher
- Kuda “Samora” Nyaruwabvu, digital media expert and matepe student
The project is funded by the Federal Foreign Office (Germany’s Foreign Ministry), and supported by the German Embassy Harare. We are greatly indepted to the FFO and Mrs. Katrin Simon from the embassy.