Sophie Chese-Msowa Arts Correspondent
In a bid to bring back the Jairos Jiri Band, a Belvedere Technical Teachers’ College student who is on Teaching Practice, Kelvin Chikumbirike, has taken it upon himself to train the disabled pupils at Jairos Jiri Secondary School the mbira instrument.
He has since named the mbira band, Jairos Jiri Mbira Ensemble and the band is now ready to perform at any function given the opportunity.
Hearing the band playing will make one appreciate the genius and creativity of the second year Belvedere Technical Teacher’s College mbira band lead vocalist.
In an interview, Chikumbirike said Jairos Jiri Mbira Ensemble was the best group he has ever worked with because of the general support of the school’s administration and the zeal that the pupils have.
“Since I started playing the mbira instrument at college, I fell in love with it and have taken it upon myself to take the traditional instrument to the young stars and I am happy to say that The Jairos Jiri students are just talented and I am loving working with them and want to go places with them far as far as traditional music is concerned,” he said.
Chikumbirike’s way of teaching mbira has left many school heads asking for his services especially because of the new curriculum which emphasises on the importance of talent development.
Speaking on his vision, he said he does not see himself in the studio as a recording artist, but rather as a mbira tutor.
“My joy comes from teaching the instrument and spreading it to the world than recording. I would love to see the disabled becoming maestros in the mbira genre and to even surpass the likes of the late mbira greats like Chiwoniso Maraire and Ephat Mujuru,” he said.
He highlighted that the Jairos Jiri Mbira Ensemble is ready to share the same stage with the likes of Mbira DzeNharira and nyunga nyunga mbira players like Jah Prayzah.
“My dream is to see mbira being appreciated by different classes of society,” he said.
The band is versatile in almost all genres, for example, they play gospel music and Zimdancehall using the mbira instrument.
The return of the band is likely to remind people of the good old days when Jairos Jiri Band made a mark under the leadership of the late Paul Matavire who made a mark with his outstanding talent before moving on to form his own ensemble, Hit Machine.
Jairos Jiri Band proved to be one of the best outfits and Chikumbirike hopes to take the new ensemble to another level.