Mbira, Zimbabwean origin instrument that mesmerizes the world
It is the middle of the night in the wilds of Zimbabwe. You've been invited to attend a sacred ceremony. The dancing and costumes are fascinating and exotic. The Shona people gathered around you are chanting and meditating. Underneath it all, music is playing - music you've never heard before. It is bell-like, repetitious, rattling, buzzing, and strangely hypnotic. You're listening to the mbira.
The mbira is found throughout the African continent, but it is associated most closely with the Shona people of Zimbabwe. The Shona have played the mbira for more than a thousand years. It is mentioned in their literature and is a part of their worship and rituals. The Shona name for the instrument is mbira dzavadzimu, which means 'mbira of the ancestors.'
The mbira is played for important Shona ceremonies, such as the bira, an all-night spirit possession ceremony. For these ceremonies, the mbira is accompanied by hand-clapping, singing, and percussion instruments. The Shona believe that the music of