Taku Mafika: Mbira Maestro Gone too Soon c.1983-2011

Chief K.Masimba Biriwasha, iZiviso.com Global Editor-At-Large

Harare, Zimbabwe – Takunda Mafika, an amazingly talented musician, died on Monday in Harare. He was 28. The cause was a brain hemorrhage, according to a family spokesperson.

Born on 31 October 1983, the husky voiced nyunga-nyunga mbira maestro was definitely in a class of his own, and his untimely death has robbed Zimbabwe of yet another rising star. The versatile musician helped to take mbira to a wider audience, including young people steeped in hip hop and urban music. The freshness of his husky voice earned him an enthusiastic following across the globe.

If anything, Mafika was on a life mission to take the mbira to a whole new international level. He toured Europe frequently where his music received wide support and rave reviews. His fusion with other global rhythms such as RnB, roots reggae, hip-hop and South African influences such as mbaqanga in some of his musical stops has catapulted him to international exposure and discovery.

There was definitely a cosmopolitan touch to his music, and Mafika was always experimenting with the nyunga-nyunga in order to elevate its global reach. In spite of the glitter of his career, Mafika always maintained his composure, maintaining a cool, calm and collected self  which endeared him to many of his fans.

Before he was admitted into hospital a fortnight ago, Mafika was in studio putting final touches to a new album titled, “Black to Colour.” The music on his new project, constructed using an eclectic selection of musical instruments,  portrayed Mafika in a whole new light. His lyricism on the album touched on a wide range of issues, including, love, freedom and peace but the ultimate beauty of his work was in the precise manner in which he plucked the mbira keys and made them sing touching many hearts around the globe.

Mafika worked with about everyone that matters in the music industry in Zimbabwe. He had one album, Dzimwe Nguva, to his name and worked with artists including Alexio, Willom Tight and the late Sam Mtukudzi. He was also passionate about identifying and grooming young talent.

At the time of his death, Mafika was actively involved in putting together a High Schools Musical Concert at St. Peters Kubatana. He was selfless and dedicated to whatever he he his hand was allowed.

Taku Mafika Lights Up Bassment

By Chief K.Masimba Biriwasha

Harare, Zimbabwe – Fresh from a study and music tour in Germany, nyunga nyunga mbira maestro Taku Mafika and his band, Tru Bantu,  lit up the newly renovated Bassment Nightclub on Wednesday with fresh beats from his upcoming album.

Wearing a dashiki, the husky voiced musician showed mastery of different genres of music but putting his signature nyunga nyunga tune as he sampled songs from his forthcoming album titled, “Black to Colour.” The music on his new project, which is constructed using an eclectic selection of musical instruments,  portray Mafika in a whole new light. His lyricism touches on a wide range of issues, including, love, freedom and peace but the ultimate beauty of his work is in the precise manner in which he plucks the mbira keys and makes them sing.

A fervent crowd at Bassment Nightclub danced intensely for almost three hours as Mafika went through his musical repertoire with gusto and evident passion.

“I feel exhilarated to be back home performing in the motherland and before an audience I know best. We’re making art with the mbira and taking it to a new level. All I can say is that I want to move to a whole, new international level with my music. The response, thus far, has been positive both locally and in the countries that I’ve performed in abroad,” said Mafika who is also a UNESCO-ASPNET Schools  coordinator in Zimbabwe.

While in Germany, Mafika said that he was involved in media competency and journalistic studies. He also performed at the internationally acclaimed Intercultural Summer Party, a cultural festival that brings together changemakers from around the world to promote intercultural learning.

Mafika reiterated the need for local artists to take advantage of new media networks such as Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, Tumblr among other.

“I am simply saying srtists should be able to know how to use the Net because it brings the whole world int a single village. With the Net, the world is a click away. In the past Africa was regarded as a backward place but because of the Net we’ve an equal opportunity with the rest of the world. So artists should take advantage of social networks to market their products to the whole world,” he said.

Gary Muponda Tight in sterling musical performance

By Chief K.Masimba Biriwasha

Harare, Zimbabwe – GARY Muponda Tight, son to popular Afro-reggae and pop musician, Willom Tight, gave a sterling performance at Mannenberg last week backed by his band, Zion Originated.

Tight, (15) who was an opening act for mbira maestro Taku Mafika’s homecoming show, exhibited a musical maturity that belied his age.

“I just want my music to go very far where no Zimbabwean music has gone before. I want my work to be known locally and internationally,” said Tight, who is currently pursuing Form Three educational studies at Churchill High School.

Tight revealed that he started playing at age two, and is in his high school’s jazz band. Last year, he went on a five-country European musical tour to with several upcoming local musicians including Mafika and Tina Watyoka among others.

During his performance, Tight played the mbira and sang with a high level of confidence that endeared him to the hordes of people that came to the show. The young musician paid tribute to his father for teaching him as well as mentoring him about the music field.

“My journey in music has been very smooth, thanks to my father. He has always been there for me. He has taught me much of what I know about music today. In addition, he is always giving me advice about how to conduct myself as a musician,” said Tight.

His act at the Mannenberg consisted of an eclectic fusion of the mbira, key board, guitar and drums. The young musician capped it all with his mellow voice and richly themed lyrics. Without a doubt, Tight is an emerging artist to look out for in the near future.