The National Museums and Monuments of Zimbabwe has empowered a group of artistes from Domboshawa by granting them the permission to do performances inside Domboshawa Caves.
The Black Survivors – fronted by Diana Makumbe – on Christmas day and New Year’s eve wowed multitudes of visitors to the caves with scintillating mbira vibes.
Makumbe is a former national bantamweight boxing champion-turned-referee who has traded the gloves for the mbira instrument, and has since recruited five others from around her area of origin to undertake regular performances at the heritage site.
While Domboshawa Caves is popular to many specifically for its rock paintings that tell a story of how the early inhabitants to the area lived, it has been lacking in terms of entertainment with visitors sometimes resorting to playing their car radios.
It is against this background that the small group from the locality approached the office of the Museum of Human Sciences director, Mr Godhi Bvocho, seeking permission to showcase the richness of traditional song and dance. After satisfying the requirements – which included seeking the support of their traditional leadership – they were given the green light and have since begun making beneficial use of the facility.
Makumbe said in an interview they were humbled by the overwhelming responses from the couple of shows held so far, and were anticipating introducing a resident sangoma-cum-fortune teller to come up with a complete package. She said inquiries had already started coming from as far afield as Canada after videos were posted on social media by tourists who attended a gig.
‘’For as long as can be remembered, Domboshawa Hill has been the domain of ancient spirits. At times mist would cover the hill for days. According to locals, this was an indication that the spirits were roaming the hill freely, hiding in the depths of the mist. Locals tell stories about how they used to see the spirits’ clothing hanging on different parts of the hill.
“Although it is rare to see the hill in mist anymore and hardly any clothes are seen hanging today, the hill continues to hold spiritual meaning to the surrounding community.
‘’Mbira music is very closely associated with ancient ceremonies and appeasing of the spirits, hence playing mbira music which is very significantly cultural boosts the spirituality of the hill and arouses an aura of ancient traditions,’’ said Mr Bvocho.
He said it was of paramount importance for a people to be proud of its culture by showcasing it to the outside world.
‘’Such showcases as traditional music at the site revive and bring to life as tourists get to enjoy the rhythm of Zimbabwe,’’ he added.