Mbuya Stella Chiweshe, gone but not forgotten

Staff Writer

MONDAY drama series on Zimbabwe national television, ZBCTV at the beginning of this millennium became very popular with the coming of Gringo TV series produced by Enock Chihombori.

It was the combination of two main actors of the series, Gringo and John Banda that made viewers glue to the hilarious comedy.

Even if the guy from Nyazura (Makoni/Rusape), the late Lazarous Boora, who acted as Gringo, was the main attraction, it was the sound track of the drama television series that sealed it up.
Gringo series’ soundtrack is a song by titled “Huya uzoona” by Stella Rambisai Chiweshe. When someone heard Huya Uzoona, he or she would quickly identify it with one of the most refined comedy television series in post independent Zimbabwe.

The sad news which rocked Zimbabwe on January 20, 2022 was that Mbuya Stella Rambisai Chiweshe was no more.

Born in 1946 in Mhondoro, Chiweshe became a house hold name in the arts circles following her mbira playing prowess and acting.

Many young people might be forgiven if they profess ignorance on this versatile artiste since she migrated to Europe after getting married to German national, Peter Reich. Mbuya Chiweshe’s music performance from then were mainly held in Germany.

Mbuya Chiweshe is one of the few ladies who managed to stand the heat which was accompanied by the negative African perspective on women being involved in arts. A lot of women were discouraged from taking up arts, especially singing and dancing due to cultural believes that when a woman becomes involved in arts, she will end up being of lose morals.

This publication spoke to Jenaguru Arts Centre director, Mr Clive Malunga, on how Mbuya Chiweshe managed to break the cultural barriers on women taking up arts for life.

“Firstly, I would like to comment that Mbuya’s case was exceptional. She was a patriotic figure who respected both her culture and her country. Her songs were inspired by African culture as well as struggles which Zimbabweans were facing.

“Even the time she migrated to Europe, she would always fly back home to perform at our Jenaguru Music Festivals between 1992 and 2005.

“Mbuya Chiweshe was so humble to grace our festivals despite her being an internationally recognised musician who rocked the whole of Europe and many Asian countries. Therefore, we crowned her as the Queen of Mbira and awarded her with 21 carat gold star the same way we did to Chimurenga maestro, Thomas Mapfumo,” he said.

Mr Malunga went on to say that in 2022, Mbuya Chiweshe was awarded with a honourary degree in arts by the University of Zimbabwe as a testimony that her artistry had much influence in the African culture and academia.

Mbuya Stella Chiweshe is gone but her works shall not be forgotten.

She shall be laid to rest in Bindura in Tuesday 24 January 2023. She has received state assisted funeral.

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