WORLD renowned mbira legend, Ambuya Stella Chiweshe, who died in Harare on Friday, has been described as a doyen of Zimbabwean culture.
She succumbed to cancer of the brain aged 76.
The cultural icon, whose career spans over four decades, was also hailed for the role she played during the liberation struggle.
They hailed the mbira queen for her resilience and philosophy, and promoting Zimbabwean culture.
Arts regulatory organisations, fellow musicians and fans described Mbuya Chiweshe’s death as an irreplaceable loss to the music fraternity.
Leading the tributes was the National Arts Council of Zimbabwe (NACZ), which hailed the icon as a NAMA legend whose music touched the hearts of many.
“Born on the 8th of July, 1946, in Mujumi Village in Mhondoro, Mbuya Stella Chiweshe was undoubtedly Zimbabwe’s Queen of Mbira and one of the country’s foremost cultural exports,” said NACZ director, Nicholas Moyo.
He said the mbira queen and multiple award-winner raised the Zimbabwean flag internationally.
“With her swooping vocals on the mbira, she brought traditional Zimbabwean Shona music to the international stage.
“Mbuya Chiweshe was a recipient of various local and international awards, including the Billboard Music Award (1993), the NAMA (2006), the NAMA Lifetime Achievement Award (2020), and the NAMA Legends Awards (2021),” said Moyo.
Similar sentiments were echoed by the Zimbabwe Music Rights Association (ZIMURA), which closely worked with the late mbira queen.
“Our deepest condolences to the Chiweshe family on the passing on of the legendary Mbuya Stella Chiweshe, a music icon. Our thoughts are with the family and the nation at large. May her dear soul rest in peace,” said ZIMURA in a statement.
Music promoter, Wanisayi “Mahwindo” Mutandwa called for Mbuya Chiweshe to be accorded National Hero status.
“This is an open letter to the Ministry of Youth, Sport and Recreation and the National Arts Council of Zimbabwe.
“The arts industry has been robbed of a heroine following Mbuya Chiweshe’s death.
“As the arts industry, we have lost a legend Mbuya Chiweshe.
“As promoters, tirikukumbirawo mutikumbirire kumosoro kuti Ambuya vapihwe heroine status,” she said.
Mahwindo said the late mbira queen deserves a huge send off.
“Tokumbirawo kuvhurirwa National Sports Stadium tiite Bira guru nevaimbi vose Mbuya vedu vasati vanochengetedzwa.
“Munotikumbirirawo zvakare ku ZBC kuti vaite a special coverage of our legend.
Ambuya Stella fought the liberation struggle using music. She is a war veteran.
“As such, we hope you will take note of our plea,” she said.
Gospel supremo, Pastor Charles Charamba, prasied Mbuya Chiweshe for her determination.
“As we receive the sad news of the passing of Mbuya Stella Chiweshe, we salute her for determination to record music at a time when all odds were against female artists,” he said.
Mbira princess, Hope Masike, shared a touching message on social media.
“Hwereshenga yetsika nemagariro edu. Muimbi, muvaraidzi, mudzidzisi wedu. Chimwezve chitubu cheruzivo. Rimwezve dura reruzivo, radanwa seri kwehupenyu.
“Rarai zvenyu murugare muzvinambiri,” she said.
Jiti musician, Baba Harare, urged the Chiweshe family to find comfort in God.
“Gwendo rusina anoramba. Rest easy queen,” he said.
Former broadcaster and educationist, Helen Venganai, was also gutted by the news of Mbuya Chiweshe’s death.
“Hearing the sad news of your passing, I wish to celebrate all the contributions you made to the music fraternity locally and globally. “You are one of the few female voices that made it beyond our borders.
“You fought for women to be allowed to play the mbira instrument when it was not allowed to do so. Sleep well Ambuya Stella Chiweshe,” she said.
Spiritualist and cultural advocate, Chembere Good, urged the nation to celebrate Mbuya Chiweshe’s legacy.
“Mambokadzi vembira vapedza repasi pano aiwa monotibatira remberi Muchembere,” she said.
Born Stella Rambisai Nekati Chiweshe in Mhondoro, the mbira queen defied odds as one of the finest artists to play mbira dzavadzimu.
She learned to play mbira in the 1960s when it was hard for women to play the sacred instrument.
Burial arrangements will be announced in due course.
Mourners are gathered at the Mukwesha Homestead in Chinyika, Goromonzi.
Mbuya Chiweshe, who was married to Peter Reich, a German national at a time of her death, will be buried in Chinyika Village.
H-Metro is reliably informed that she will be buried next to her first husband, Freddy Mukwesha, at the Mukwesha homestead.