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Arts moves Bulawayo to Glasgow

Globe-trotting Bulawayo artist, Bruce Ncube has embarked on a project aimed at teaching youths on how to play mbira and appreciate the Zimbabwean culture.


Bruce Ncube (right) and Taurai Moyo had mbira training sessions at Salukazi Arts Centre
Bruce Ncube (right) and Taurai Moyo had mbira training sessions at Salukazi Arts Centre

Dubbed Arts Moves Bulawayo to Glasgow, the two-week project is a collaboration between Mema Arts (Zimbabwe) and Many Studios in Glasgow, Scotland and is funded by the British Council of Zimbabwe.

Ncube is a product of the award-winning Umkhathi Theatre Works and is the founder of Mema Arts — an arts initiative based in Bulawayo’s Njube surburb.

The much-travelled artist — a drum, music, dance and mbira teacher — had been on a recent European tour where he conducted several workshops, training people on how to play African traditional instruments like drums and mbira.

He is back in the country for the Arts Moves Bulawayo to Glasgow project which he described to The Standard Style as being in two phases.

“Phase one of the project is the one I am working on with the youths and pupils. It will run for two weeks. Phase two of the project will be held in Glasgow,” he said.

“The idea behind the project is to try and use mbira as a way of bringing youngsters together and try to preserve the Zimbabwean culture. We are trying to contemporise the whole thing because we are using the mbira Nyunga Nyunga, which is referred to as mbira dzavadzimu [mbira of the ancestors]. A lot of young people identify themselves with the mbira Nyunga Nyunga because it is high pitched and can easily be played with any other instrument.”

The first phase of the project was held at Salukazi Arts Centre, which is the home of Umkhathi Theatre Works, while performances will be conducted at the centre where Ncube cut his arts teeth.

The second phase of the project will be held in Glasgow and Ncube is appealing for financial assistance to transport the youths to Scotland.

“I am going to go over and deliver workshops in four different places in Scotland. I would have loved to travel with the youths who are going to be part of the first phase, but so far there are no funds for them to travel,” he said.

“I will hold workshops on mbira playing and there is going to be an exhibition where Taurai Moyo will showcase mbira making.”

Ncube said the idea behind the project was to pass on the baton stick to the youths so that they can create and compose their own music.

Patrick Mabhena of Mema Arts said 24 youths had registered to take part at the workshop .

“We are trying to earn a living and we will go to schools and try to get ourselves workshops where we will train other students. There is a curriculum for arts in schools and this will be an added advantage to us,” Mabhena said.

“This project is a blessing to us and we feel our dreams have come true. We will organise ourselves since we are coming from different places, with some doing workshops in different parts of the city.”

Linda Sithole said this was an opportunity to keep the girl child busy.

“Right now, even young women can shine and say we can and show the world that they can do more instead of staying at home doing nothing,”she said.

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