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Mbira Musician

Davison Mudzingwa/Twenty Ten

Location: Johannesburg, South Africa

AUDIO: The sounds of the Mbira entertain shoppers.

CUE: Big businesses might have recorded high profits from increased traffic, thanks to the World Cup. However, even a humble Zimbabwean musician is counting the gains. Playing an African instrument made famous in Zimbabwe and known as the Mbira, Nathan Chakuchichi entertains guests every day in a local car park.


Not only is Nathan Chakuchichi making the instrument famous to tourists, he is tackling social issues such as xenophobia and migration.

FX: MBIRA (Play, Fade Under)—00:15”

LINK 1: In a piercingly chilly winter evening, a shrilling voice emanates from a car park of the trendy shopping mall of Rosebank in Johannesburg. Drawing nearer to the source, I could hear the underlying steely acoustic sound. Clasped in thick wool hat and scarf—Nathan Chakuchichi plays the mbira instrument to customers parking cars—for small change.


FX: MBIRA 00:10” (Fade In, Play, Fade Under)

LINK 2: Made popular in Zimbabwe as a cultural instrument, the Mbira is new to many overseas visitors flocking to South Africa for the 2010 Soccer World Cup

CLIP 1: NATHAN—00:20”

They are very much amazed, some of them didn’t even know about the instrument …they learn much about our culture.

LINK 3: Mbira, known by some as thumb-nail piano, resonates, sounding through a stick that transmits the flattened iron keys to the dome-shaped wooden calabash.

CLIP: NATHAN—00:15”—explaining the transmission of sound.

LINK 4: Despite playing this unique instrument at the most humble space of a shopping...

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