Zimbabwean singer and mbira player Chiwoniso Maraire dies at 37
Two days ago, on Wednesday evening, Chiwoniso Maraire, one of Zimbabwe’s most famous mbira players and singers died at the age of 37. After being admitted to the South Medical Hospital in Chitungwiza for ten days, Maraire died because of a lung infection.
Chiwoniso Maraire was not just an ordinary singer; she also played the mbira, which is usually mainly played by men. With that she broke a taboo in Zimbabwe and further combined the sound of the instrument with other instruments in a fascinating way. The world and Zimbabwe lost one of their very talented musicians. The world is in mourning.
I knew Chiwoniso since she was a young girl in the late 1980s. She became part of my extended family when she married my nephew, musician Andy Brown, also late. I saw her mature so fast in her music career at an early age. I will never forget our last performance together in Vilnius, Lithuania in June 2012. She improvised with mbira music accompanying me in my poetry. The last pain was when we parted. She simply said: “Uncle, when do you return? The fight is still on.” All the time in her performances of music and dance, I could not help but feel her profound love for music, the people who danced to it, and her vision for our country. Very sad to lose her. Really sad! Chenjerai Hove, Stavanger, Norway
Master of the thumb piano, her live shows were just fantastic will truly miss her RIP Chichi Zim’s finest musician. Bright Mavhima, Harare, Zimbabwe
Met her a few weeks ago at a show at 7 Arts Theatre, Avondale, Harare with SA based Lira. She was still shining though. Her death came as shock to many. Great vocal prowess. Will really miss her inspiring songs. RIP beloved sis. Blessing, Harare, Zimbabwe
She was a very talented and popular musician. I enjoyed her concerts in Harare. She will be missed. Gretchen Cowman, Nairobi, Kenya
She was amazing especially on songs like ‘Ivai Nesu’, ‘Wandirasa’ and ‘Ancient Voices’. I also loved ‘Amai Famba Zvakanaka’. I met her one Saturday afternoon in Harare and asked to have a picture with her from my phone. She refused. I probably looked like a nosy journalist in my church suit! Talent, Stoke-on-Trent, England
Very sorry for such a loss at such a tender age. As a Zimbabwean bringing up my little children who so much love music, I can feel the loss our country has suffered. Chiwoniso could have inspired my British born children that it is possible to play African rhythms and internationalise it to add variety in the world of entertainment. Ryton Dzimiri, Swansea, England