Spoken Mbira Poetry Contest is a collaborative initiative between Chakanembira and the Institute of Creative Arts for Progress in Africa (ICAPA.) The contest aims to encourage the use of mbira music to enhance spoken word performances and promote transcultural interaction between individuals.
By Chaka Zinyemba
The Spoken Mbira Poetry Contest is a collaborative initiative between Chakanembira and the Institute of Creative Arts for Progress in Africa (ICAPA.) The contest aims to encourage the use of mbira music to enhance spoken word performances and promote transcultural interaction between individuals living in Edmonton, Canada and those living in Harare, Zimbabwe. By doing so, we seek to expand the engagement with mbira music beyond the traditional mbira playing communities and increase awareness of the history, the present state and the future of mbira and its role in contemporary society.
Contestants will be asked to record, and submit spoken word pieces inspired by a mbira piece. Submissions will be accepted between June 1st and July 31st 2014 and will be judged by a panel of well established judges from Zimbabwe and Canada. Contestants will also be judged on their participation in a private Facebook group that is aimed at having contestants share their experiences of the competition and interact with contestants from different cultural contexts.
The mbira (also known as the sanza, kalimba, timbila or karimba) is an instrument that has been played in various socio-cultural contexts across the African continent. In Zimbabwe, the mbira is traditionally and continues to be associated with the Shona peoples' spirituality and social expression. The use of mbira must evolve to meet the diversity of needs and desires of a rapidly changing contemporary society if the use of the mbira is to remain relevant. The recent rise in popularity of spoken word poetry as an accessible form of poetry for people of various backgrounds presents an opportunity to fuse the mbira, that is itself rich in oral tradition with another form of oral literature that is being driven by a youthful generation. The audible asthetics of the mbira makes it an instrument that can transcend physical boundaries and cultures and the migration of mbira players to all corners of the world makes this possible.
Chakanembira, started by Chaka Zinyemba, is a start-up that aims to look at the various ways mbira and mbira culture can be creatively applied and contextualised to contemporary society in a manner that appreciates and gives credit to tradition while charting a path for future traditions. Chaka, who was taught mbira by Albert Chimedza at the Mbira Centre in Harare, is a graduate of the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada and a recipient of the 2013 Edmonton Arts' Council Cultural Diversity in the Arts Award.
For regular updates and information on how to enter the competition, please visit: www.chakanembira.com