Nzira Ye Mbira : Mbira Spirit

Mbira Magic's 'Nzira Ye Mbira' (Path of Mbira) Feature Series introduces:

Mbira Spirit

Mbira Spirit consists of artists and educators Amy Matamba from Vancouver Island, Canada and Tafadzwa Matamba from Magunje, Zimbabwe. In this feature, readers will find out how their paths met, and learn about their social vision and inspiring achievements.

"Together we are one!" 

Tafadzwa was born into a family of mbira players. Keen to maintain their tradition, he took part in ceremonies and mbira gatherings around Zimbabwe and furthered his craft under the guidance of many advanced mbira masters. Tafadzwa has always been passionate about sharing his pride in Zimbabwean culture, art, tradition and heritage, and for him, mbira embodies all these things. In an effort to promote the instrument, he started visiting schools, but this wasn’t always easy because the instrument had at one time been banned there. Undeterred, Tafadzwa established a cultural arts centre where foreign visitors could come and share his inspiration for Zimbabwean music and tradition. One particular visitor would change his life and help him take mbira to new lands. 

A fantastic, inspirational, uplifting concert at the Duncan Showroom January 1, 2015. Setting good intentions for the New Year with powerful music, dance and friendship.

This is the first video we saw of Tafadzwa, leading us on to find Mbira Spirit. Here he plays with Mark Hoskins at a Kitchenjam recording in Cape Town.

Through their uplifting music and positive message, Mbira Spirit has a reputation for inspiring and transforming audiences. Their unforgettable performance combines traditional Zimbabwean, Reggae, Folk, Spiritual and Gospel music with sweet harmonies, dancing, and stories.

During Amy's first trip to Zimbabwe, Tafadzwa became intrigued with a ukelele she had brought along. It wasn't long after his arrival in Canada mbira songs that village songs and Salvation Army songs began to flow from its strings! January 2014 saw Mbira Spirit's first performances to include traditional Zimbabwean music on guitars. 

Amy committed to learning music early in life. She shares her enthusiasm with the next generation as a teacher in the public school system. A path she has followed for twenty-one years! 2004 saw her taking up studies in Zimbabwean music, and inevitably, she was soon hooked on mbira. Amy tells us how grateful she is to the North American Zimbabwean community, festivals and camps for supporting her mbira journey and inspiring her first visit to Zimbabwe. It was this adventure in March 2012 that saw her leaving Canada to meet Tafadzwa. A memorable journey that would see her traveling throughout Zimbabwe, studying with various masters in different regions, cities, towns and village areas, and forming new bonds that continue to grow to this day. 

After returning home from Zimbabwe, Amy went on to invite Tafadzwa to Canada as a performing artist. She arranged and promoted a tour of schools and universities in Southern Vancouver Island and connected him with some local Zimbabwean bands. Six successful months later, Tafadzwa extended his stay and Mbira Spirit was born.  

Amy and Tafadzwa married in May 2013 and have been developing their music and their Cultural Arts and Education Centres ever since! Read on for more about their amazing achievements.  

The Matambas are striving to promote the arts, culture, tradition and heritage of Zimbabwe and Canada through collaboration and cultural exchange. 

Because Canada is a very diverse country, with people from many different cultures living closely together, the Matambas decided to establish the Matamba Cultural Arts and Education Centre there. The organization’s intention is to explore culture and arts with the aim of developing a deeper understanding of human spirit and the ways in which we can live together more harmoniously. This exciting project has captured the attention of a number of regional directors and ministry initiated cultural round tables, and resulted in a number of inspirational achievements:

Zimbabwean Music and Dance Project

Supporting a collaboration of artists from ‘Icon Theatre Productions’, ‘Berlina Arts’, and ‘Mbira for the Ancestor's Soul’ to attend the Solmonic Arts Festival in Malawi. All of the groups (fifteen traditional artists in total) were from the Mashonaland West. The Matamba’s support enabled them to travel to the festival and create a powerful show that was extremely well received. Lasting international connections were formed, and it was agreed that by collaborating and working together they represented the traditions and heritage of Zimbabwe with great success. 

Visit the Mbira Spirit store by clicking here.

Visit the Mbira Spirit store by clicking here.

Canada Meets Zimbabwe, One World, One Love: CD

Armed with a collection of recordings of Vancouver Island artists’ ‘island flavours’, they set off on a four-week musical journey that would see them capturing new musical collaborations with Zimbabwean artists in Masvingo, Magunje, and Harare. The CD has been completed in conjunction with George Chakwata, leader of Eden Boys, and producer Mukwa at Body Slam Studio and is released by Diamond Studio.

Click to download the Matamba Cultural Arts and Education flyer and find out how you can support their international projects. 

Matamba Cultural Arts and Education Centre in Magunje

In partnership with Hurungwe District Council, land has been approved for their new Matamba Cultural Arts and Education Centre in Magunje. The centre will focus on cultural exchanges in the areas of arts, heritage, education, agriculture, sustainability, and tourism. Groups of Canadians will attend a 6 week cultural education course before making trips out there. Commences November 2015.

The first Matamba Cultural Arts and Education festival flyer. 

Matamba Cultural Arts and Education Festival 2015

Their debut festival will publicly launch their exchange work between Canada and Zimbabwe during Mbira Month. September 11-13 in the Cowichan Valley, Vancouver Island. Watch this space for future festival announcements! 

Education and Cultural Sharing

Their CD, professionally recorded footage of numerous Zimbabwean artists, and outcomes of their other projects will be presented to schools, universities, regional directors, local councils, and used to promote performing arts and cultural sharing on Vancouver Island and beyond.

We wish Amy and Tafadzwa the best of luck with all of their work. It's great to see their passion and success. To stay up to date with their events, projects, music, photos and videos, please visit their Website and follow their Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Youtube accounts. We will also use Our mailing list to keep you notified about their news. Tafadzwa has also released a book of stories and poems from the memories of his native homeland. Proceeds from his book 'Rainbow Skies and Pies That Fly' support Matamba Cultural Arts and Education Centres in Magunje, Zimbabwe and Vancouver Island, Canada. 

To help them reflect on the social value of their projects, Amy and Tafadzwa have asked readers to leave comments to their question:

'How does Arts and Culture benefit communities'.