Oliver Mtukudzi: Living Tuku Music in Zimbabwe

By Jennifer W. Kyker | Go to book overview

ONE
Hwaro/Foundations

During the height of the dry season, in September 2002, I was invited to attend a postfunerary ceremony at my host family’s home in the Chiweshe rural areas, located along the way from Harare to Oliver Mtukudzi’s rural home, or musha, in the village of Madziva. Long relieved of their harvest, fields crackled with the parched stubble of maize stalks waiting to be plowed into the soil. Cows grazed at leisure, ambling together in small herds peppered by the brilliant white flecks of cattle egrets. Against a backdrop of bare boughs, a few trees clung to a last scrim of leaves. Low on the horizon, the morning sun was already hot as we awoke the morning after the ceremony. Just out of its reach, small groups of women rested in the shade. Seated on handwoven reed mats, or rukukwe, they gazed out at the modest structures of a rural homestead—a round kitchen with its thatched roof, a few square, brick bedrooms topped by sheets of corrugated asbestos, a crumbling, roofless toilet block, and a grass enclosure for bathing.

Mostly madzisahwira (sg. sahwira), or ritual best friends, these women had spent three days assisting the residents of this compound with the ritual of kurova guva, held roughly a year after the death of a family member to reincorporate his or her spirit into the family’s ancestral lineage. After staying awake all night, most people had stolen away for some much-needed repose. Yet these female madzisahwira spontaneously rose again, forming a circle in the middle of the dusty yard. Their long skirts swung out behind them as they began the weaving, counterclockwise movements of mafuwe, a ceremonial genre associated with rainmaking.1 Clapping their hands to keep time, the women launched into song, their voices settling into a high-pitched, narrow range as the lead singer called out:

Zvemusha uno / What is happening in this home

The others immediately answered her with a unison refrain:

A hiye wohiye rava dembetembe / Reflects a state of disorder2

Pausing momentarily, several of the singers interjected exclamations—Hokoyo / Watch out!—as well as frequent ululation, or mhururu, a ritualized expressive form reserved for women.

-31-

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Oliver Mtukudzi: Living Tuku Music in Zimbabwe
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Acknowledgments ix
  • Introduction - The Art of Determination 3
  • One - Hwaro/Foundations 31
  • Two - Performing the Nation’s History 59
  • Three - Singing Hunhu after Independence 85
  • Four - Neria- Singing the Politics of Inheritance 109
  • Five - Return to Dande 127
  • Six - Listening as Politics 147
  • Seven - What Shall We Do?- Music, Dialogue, and HIV/AIDS 169
  • Eight - Listening in the Wilderness 203
  • Conclusion - I Have Finished My Portion of the Field 219
  • Notes 227
  • Bibliography 257
  • Index 275
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