Book Café the Soul of Mbira

The Mbira Journey with Hector Mugani

18 June 2015

Mbiravolution Book Cafe Closes


The pioneering Zimbabwean Mbira venue has stumbled, fell, not yet out, lets help it up. The first night I was at the book café was an undisclosed Friday night in 2002 after skipping hostel at Allen Wilson Boys High School in Harare. I walked into the Fifi Avenue venue which was non-classy but cosy, arty, and very inspiring.

The audience had a varied rang from the nobles to use the hoi polloi, all races and stratus of the society, [I thought if me and Ignatius Kamanga had not come in the high school students would have be left out,.. (Well at this time I would want to say we were the only on but unfortunately no) ** censored**] and high school students.

The reason for this gathering was a mbira show and for me this was the first time to see live mbira commercial show and before the show I saw the first mbira music icons in Zimbabwe, Tendayi “Samaita” Gahamadze and Wilfred T “Nyamasvisva “ Maafrika in the Book Café car park.

I saw their mbira and ask to play it, and was given authority and well guess what I did. And from that time I became a fan of the place where my superstars where playing, The Book Café! Which in the following years I became regular at the Tuesday mbira nights which I would come a long way from Chimanimani to see.  Then Chiwoniso Maraire was playing and later Hope Masike took over the slot when Chiwoniso left the country in a self-styled exile, the Rebel Woman.

At this point and time I would also enjoy mbira players like Jacob Mafuleni, Edgar Bera, the Legenary Adam Chisvo and many more who would come grace the Mbira Stars stage. The energy was always positive and was highly contagious. Both the Tuesday night and the Friday night resonated an spiritual, enjoyable, and refreshing aura.

The list of mbira player grew as this happened the Book Café in all the years I knew it, had traditional mbira every Friday and also the fusions and other music styles that had mbira as thier backbone or otherwise. Names like James Mujuru, Stella Chiweshe, Benita Tarupiwa, Hope Masike, Tendai Madzviti, Forward Kwenda, Albert Chimedza, Musekiwa Chingodza, Lovemore Salary, the list goes on, would come to the venue of different reasons including it just being an artistic and culturally accommodative place, a mind could express itself freely shorn of discrimination.

The Book Café Book Shop also took it upon itself to sell mbira’s and also to equip its self with the right information on who sold mbira, who made mbira and other mbira events happening in and out of Harare. It was not just an arts hub but also more a mbira hub, a reserve, in touch with the past which paved way for the future of the arts and the mbira.

The founder of Book Café and Pamberi trust, the late Paul Brickhill, was a mbira fanatic, though he was a saxophone player. He belived the mbira had a

The Mbiravolution had its birth at this arts factory, where its first Discussion took place and later the ‘Let The Instrument Speak Exhibition’ which were both high successful experimental mbira event that generated debate, interest and appreciation over the mbira, the force of musical law in Shona Zimbabwe.

It was one of the first places to gladly take part in the Mbira Centre initiative The Mbira Month. Without hesitation or a second thought the Book Café accommodated this idea to enhance the mbira which was the root of Shona culture and a shining Zimbabwean heritage where most thought it was just a historical piece of art.

A land mark in the history of musical art culture and heritage, a name that will live forever, and like a phoenix will rise from the ashes, Book Café. Let’s unite for its resurrection.  It has risen before why not now.   





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