The music of Zimbabwe's women mbira players

About

The seven members of Mhare dzeNhare are Irene Chigamba, Rhoda Dzomba, Tendai Mavengeni, Patience Munjeri, Winnefrider Ndava, Joyce Warikandwa, and Chipo Wazara. As individuals, the members of Mhare DzeNhare have recorded dozens of albums, taught several generations of mbira students, and performed for audiences at ceremonies, festivals, and concerts in Zimbabwe and abroad. The recordings featured here represent their first project together as a group.

From left to right: Winnefrider Ndava, Tendai Mavengeni, Joyce Warikandwa, Irene Chigamba, Jennifer Kyker, Rhoda Dzomba, Chipo Wazara, and Patience Munjeri

With support from a Mary E. Woolley Fellowship from Mount Holyoke College, Mhare dzeNhare members rehearsed monthly for nearly a year in preparation for their first studio recordings. The music featured on this site was recorded during these recording sessions, which were completed a week before Zimbabwe's COVID-19 lockdowns in mid-March 2020.

Name Meaning

The name Mhare dzeNhare emphasizes women’s skills as mbira musicians. It also honors the legacy of pioneering female artist Benita Tarupiwa, who passed away in 2018. As group member Patience Munjeri explains:

Mhare DzeNhare, it’s a name that we chose for the group that explains that we are experts, actually, in mbira playing. As women, we would really find that there are very few women who play this instrument in Zimbabwe. So we felt that this name suited us very well. "Mhare," here it’s talking about experts. And "nhare," it’s another name for the mbira. So we chose that name for our group, and it suited us all. And it connects us with Benita Tarupiwa, who also had this name in mind. So we felt that when we use it, spiritually, we will be together with her.