The history of mbira begins at the time of "Great Zimbabwe," where the roots of the Shona people began. Great Zimbabwe is the Monomotapa Kingdom which appeared in Southern Africa in the 14th century. The ruins of its pyramids and stone structures still remain. A spirit (an apparition of a living person) came to the earth at this time, and it is believed that the Shona people were taught by this spirit how to make the musical instrument known as the mbira.


A picture of the origin / great Zimbabwe remains of a Shona is printed to a Zimbabwean currency

There were many different mbira songs which the ancestors of the Shona taught over 500 years ago. This knowledge has been passed down to the present age. For example, "Karigamombe," "Nhemamusasa," "Taireva" and "Nyamaropa" are songs which date back to the time of the Shona ancestors. There are no new songs, but many variations of the same songs. These variations are played so the songs can develop and loop to connect the people more deeply with the music.

 

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