Back to Index
Chiwoniso: Mbira queen with unique voice
Charumbira, The Standard (Zimbabwe)
July 28, 2013
The death of
mbira songstress Chiwoniso Maraire last week has thrown the Zimbabwean
music scene into deep mourning.
She died on
Wednesday evening at South Medical Hospital where she had been admitted
of encounters that many had with Chi, as she was affectionately
known, are bound to appear as friends, fellow musicians and fans
struggle to come to terms with her untimely death.
I am one of
those who had a chance to interact with Chiwoniso.
Chi became a
darling for me when I was a school boy at Oriel Boys High. Back
then I lived in Mabvuku and we would be mesmerised by the sound
of her voice with my peers.
a different edge to all the forms of music that we had grown up
Despite my admiration,
it was only at the burial of her former husband Andy Brown at Mazvihwa,
Mberengwa that I had my first encounter of her.
We had met several
times before, but it is at funerals that most people pour their
just before burial in the afternoon weeping.
She went into
the room where the casket was housed wailing.
Andy’s casket and kissed it. It was evident that an abyss
had been created in her bossom.
The way she
went on around the coffin one would think she was a drama queen.
As there were
many relatives at the funeral there was not much we could talk about.
We were to meet
once again in Gweru at a food court on our way back to Harare.
On sight of
me she crumbled into my arms and cried.
waenda shamwari (Andy is gone my friend),” she said sobbing.
I consoled her
and she calmed but still there was not much she could say. She remained
a disturbed soul.
It was in November
that we last had a close encounter at Jazz 105.
We laughed at
some gentlemen who had tried to court Andy’s sister in whose
company we were.
She teased the
men about asking for cigarettes and we all laughed at her guts.
But that was
She would not
care whether you were angered; she would throw in jab after jab.
have been said about her drinking behaviour lately.
Some said she
had reduced herself to a drunk but those around her knew she was
always jovial and lived a full life.
death in March 2011 she had been rumoured to have had a fall out
with then Andy’s wife Nadine at his home in Cranbone.
denied it and we also laughed about it.
Her talent was
undisputed and whenever she stepped onto the stage everyone knew
they would be in for a treat.
At the Harare
International Festival of the Arts this year she dazzled thousands
of revellers when she stepped onto the stage at Baaba Maal’s
A simple improvisation
did it. She worked with numerous world artists in her several tours
of the world affirming her as a queen of the genre.
Her place on
the Zimbabwean musical scene can never be filled by anyone else
and she will always be remembered for hits like Wandirasa and Mai
Fambai Zvakanaka among others.
She leaves behind
two daughters Chengeto and Chiedza.
She will be
buried at Chakohwa Village 60 kilometres out of Mutare on Monday
Please credit www.kubatana.net if you make use of material from this website.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License unless stated otherwise.