About this site

This is the website 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 was to document the entire matepe repertoire of 82-year old master musician Chaka Chawasarira, as well as his instrument building process.

The result is a comprehensive set of video lessons on both aspects, made available on this website and distributed through music schools and cultural centers in Zimbabwe, free of charge.

Two matepe, made by C. Chawasarira

The Matepe

The matepe is a mbira (lamellophone) from Northeast Zimbabwe and adjacent regions of Mozambique. It is among the most sophisticated mbiras of the entire continent 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 – Chawasarira himself and James Kamwaza.

The Team

Our project team (from left to right):

Support

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.

Contact: mail@matepe.org