Kutsinhira Clultural Arts Center: Decicated to the music and people of Zimbabwe

Song Names and Meanings

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Information on pieces in the Kutsinhira Repertoire

Compiled by Maggie Donahue, 2003

  • Including comments from Claire Jones & Paul Mataruse
  • Letters indicate difficulty, with “A” being the easiest. Asterisks indicate pieces recommended for the Kutsinhira curriculum)
  • Dumi = Dr. Dumisani Maraire

If you would like to submit a change or addition of text or song, email our webmaster at publish{at}kutsinhira[dot]org. Please include the source of your information if possible.

Amaxoxo (B*) Composed by Alport Mhlanga who was one of Dumi's teachers at Kwanangoma College. Meaning: Song of the frogs.

Baya Wa Baya An old song for war, now commonly played on lots of instruments.

Chamunorwa Arranged by Wanda Walker from Thomas Mapfumo's recording. Meaning: What are we fighting for?

Chemutengure (B*) Tradtional Arranged by Dumi Meaning: not literal - meant to imitate the sound of wagon wheels as white settlers came to Shona lands. Many people play this piece on lots of different instruments and even arrange it with voices only.

Chemwainyera (B*) Composed by Dumi Meaning: What you have been hoping/wishing/waiting for is now happening.

Chipembere (D*) Arranged by Stephen Golovnin from the pasechigare mbira song. Meaning: The black rhinoceros.

Chiradza (A) Alport Mhlanga tells us that this piece is actually Kgopotso composed by Godfrey Ntatisi, a Motswana man who studied at Kwanongoma during the early sixties. He was a contemporary of Emanby Chiradza and Alport Mhlanga. Meaning: Kgopotso is a Setswana word which means remembrance.

Four Brothers' Rugare (D) Composed by Four Brothers for guitar and voice. Arranged by Gary Goldwater. Meaning: fortune.

Hapana (A) Composed by Dumi. Meaning: Nothing is happening here.

Hombi (D*) Arranged by Dumi. Meaning: The baboon. In Shona culture the baboon represents an animal that looks playful on the outside but should be taken seriously. Taking on the baboon is a bigger challenge than you realize. Gudo=baboon in general. Hombi= a large alpha male in the baboon troupe.

Isu Tauya Pano (C) A marimba piece adapted from a Shona children's game Meaning: If everyone who was supposed to come were here, we would all have more fun. From Paul Mataruse: Isu tauya pano is a song originating from the celebrations at Zimbabwe's independence. The song itself shares the communal voice of everyone that took part in the liberation war and made it back alive. While they are happy to be gathered in the name of independence, they cannot help imagining how much more joyous an occasion the independence celebration would have been had all those who fought in the war made it back alive.

Kapotso Unondo Tamba Iwewe (B*) Composed by Dumi. The piece is introduced with Kapotso, a Chopi children's tune. Meaning: You are not serious enough.

Kasahwa (E) Arranged by Gary Goldwater from Stella Chiweshe's recording on "Ambuya" of a traditonal mbira song. Meaning: a little snake bone.

Kukaiwa (A*) Composed Dumi. Meaning: to be bothered. Written as a learning piece for his students, this is often the first piece a marimba student will study. Song: Maiwe, maiwe, ndaneta kukaiwa. A woye, woye kukaiwa. Ndaneta means "I am tired".

Kumakomo (D) Composed by Chris Berry. Meaning: Going to the mountain - in search of enlightenment.

Kupera Kwevanhu (D?) From Thomas Mapfumo's recording for voice and guitar. Arranged by Stephen Golovnin Meaning: It is about the sorrow of the people of Mozambique.

Kutambarara (B) Composed by Dumi. Meaning:To spread out. Dumi is quoted on the jacket of "Pieces of Africa" by the Kronos Quartet. "What is spreading is African concepts, perspectives, philosophies, traditions and cultures through African music. This is now being done by Africans themselves."

Kuzanga (E) Arranged by Claire Jones from traditional mbira piece. Meaning: Living happily without fear. CJ: A song about a jealous woman. Tute Chigamba said Kuzanga was the first, older wife in a polygamous marriage which explains some of the lyrics I've heard.

Leopard Finds a New Home (D) Composed and arranged by Michael Breeze.

Maimbo (B) Composed by Alport Mhlanga. This was his graduation composition from the Kwanongoma College. Kutsinhira learned this version from Larry Israel and Michael Breeze. Meaning: Mother of Mbo. Also refers to a singing style.

Manhanga (C ) Arrangement: Claire arranged this from what Dumi taught her on karimba. It is a traditional piece and very commonly played by Zimbabwean marimba groups. Meaning: pumpkins. Some lyrics say "You've never tasted pumpkins/squash this good."

Mbira (D*) Arranged by Gary Goldwater and Shumba. Gary considered this a generic mbira style piece. It is an excellent piece to begin learning this type of music. Shumba requested that it not be performed publicly by other groups.

Mukoma Wandaida Arranged by Chris Berry from the pasechigare mbira song Mbavhaire. Meaning: The last of the four sections deals with the repentance of the sorcerer.

Ncuzu (A*) Composed: Dumi from an Ndebele dance, Ingquzu.

Ndangariro (A*) Traditional Arranged by Ephat Mujuru for Shumba. This piece as we play it has no true lead. Our 'lead and first sop' were developed by Gary Goldwater and Gil Harrison. The main singing line is missing. Meaning: To remember my thoughts or to remember the past in a way that serves the present.

Ndoirera (C ) Claire spells this Ndoerera. Composed by Dumi. Meaning: I'm going with the tide.

Nhemamusasa (E) Arranged by Joel Lindstrom from a traditional mbira piece Meaning: Cutting branches [for a temporary shelter].

Nyungwe (A*) Composed by Dumi. Meaning: Nyungwe is a region in Mozambique. The piece was inspired by a ngoma rhythm Dumi heard in a tavern played by musicians from Nyungwe.

Nzira Re Nzou Composed and arranged by Chris Berry. Meaning: path of the elephants (the Milky Way).

Rugare (B*) Composed by Dumi. Rugare is the first movement of his piece Mangwanani. Meaning: Rugare means comfort, peace, well-being. Mangawanani means good morning.

Sikokiyana (C ) Arranged by Musekiwa Chingodza from August Msarurgwa's popular township jive song (circa 1950). Meaning: refers to home-brewed alcohol served in shebeens (illegal drinking houses.)

Taireva or Taisereva (E) Arranged by Gary Goldwater from the pasechigare mbira piece Meaning: We used to tell you.

Tipe Tizwe (B) Arrangement by Claire Jones from Dumi's nyunga/karimba piece recorded on the Nonesuch album with his brother Nkosana and Lora. Meaning: Give me a taste. (Sexual teasing)

Torai Mapadza Kurima (E) A Shona song taught by Joe Bayana. Arranged by Gary Goldwater from a traditional mbira song. Meaning: pick up your hoes and let's plow. Badza = hoe.

Vamudara (C) Arranged by Dumi for voices Arranged by Gary Goldwater for marimba from a Shona shangara dance song. Meaning: about a man who drinks too much.

Warigamukono (B*) Arranged by Dumi based on the pasichigare mbira song Kariga Mombe. (Chiwoniso's tape jacket: Vatapa traditional mbira tune.) Meaning: bringing the bull to the earth. Wari = Kariga (difference in dialect). Mukono is Shona for bull, not very different from mombe/cow. Dumi's nickname growing up was Mukono because he was such a bull. Vatapa was a term Dumi used back in the late 70's. He said it was the term Shona people used for themselves whereas the term Shona came from the Ndebele.

Yuwi Maiwe (D) Arranged by Dumi from a contemporary Shona song. Taught by Stephen Golovnin. Meaning: A song sung for the mothers of the guerrillas coming back from war during peace time. "Mother, be happy! Your child is home alive from war"

Zendekaiwa (B) Arranged by Dumi - from a very old Ngano song. Meaning: Kumba kwambuya kwaita seiko - means something like "what has happened at the grandmother's/mother-in-law's house?" Dumi categorized it as similar to highlife.

Zomba (C*) Arranged by Dumi from a traditional piece. Meaning: Zomba is a town in Malawi.

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