Zimfest 2020 at the Evergreen State College was CANCELLED, due to the coronavirus pandemic. Instead, Zimfest Online 2020 took place.
The Zimbabwean Music Festival (also known as Zimfest) celebrates Zimbabwean music and culture in its many forms. During this time of staying apart together, we worked on ways for our community to engage with one another and with Zimbabwean culture online. Please consult the Zimfest Online page for offerings of educational and performance sessions with Zimfest teachers.
We were honored to have Tapiwa Kapurura, a Zimbabwean writer with a passion for poetry, languages and music, present our inaugural online workshop on June 6. Tapiwa, his wife Victoria and their three college-age offspring are deeply rooted in Zimbabwe and have been regular attendees at Zimfest since 2010. We welcomed back (virtually) the internationally-known performer, music educator, ethnomusicologist and bandleader Tendai Muparutsa. Tendai is an Artist-In-Residence at Williams College in Massachusetts, where he has been teaching since 2012. Festival Coordinator Claire Jones also returned to teaching online with a little extra time on her hands.
We were excited to have with us (virtually) Linos Magaya, who grew up playing mbira in Zimbabwe and moved to the UK in 1997. Linos is a performer, band leader, and Svikiro (spiritual healer), devoting much of his time and energy to the promotion, research and support of Zimbabwean spiritual culture. Co-teaching with Linos was Tim Lloyd who also plays in the band Zimbaremabwe that was supposed to come to Zimfest 2020. Longtime Zimfest contributor Jeff Brahe also offered an online presentation.
As Zimfest 2020 (Live) was due to take place from July 30 to August 2, we scheduled three different Zimfest Online sessions for that weekend! We opened with Sinini and Pamela Ngwenya of Tanga Pasi (“Starting From Scratch”) joining us from Germany on Friday July 31 with a hybrid live/recorded concert in Zimfest’s Zoom room. We had been trying to bring the Ngwenyas to Zimfest since 2019; check them out on YouTube. By popular request, Zivanai Masango hosted an Mvenge Mvenge Dance Party for Zimfest Online on Saturday August 1. This partly educational and entirely enjoyable session was an outgrowth of Zi’s popular Basement Studio Sessions on Facebook and Youtube. Closing out the Zimfest weekend on Sunday 2 August, Dr. Jennifer Kyker taught a Musekiwa Chingodza mbira piece. An (optional) singing workshop took place the following weekend, both extensions of a six-week online mbira class helping to raise money for Musekiwa.
As we neared the end of Zimfest Online 2020, we were excited that Anesu Ndoro could join us to teach at Zimfest for the first time. Anesu is a Zimbabwean anthropology student at Reed College; he discussed Karanga folktales. Claire Jones returned with another presentation on music history in Zimbabwe. And Tedd Judd, who has played Zim music since the late-’70s, explored Western perspectives on Zimbabwean music.
See the Zimfest Online page for more details about all of these workshops.
Zimfest is a festival created by the people who love Zimbabwean music. Volunteers work on all aspects of the festival, from year-round planning to on-site labor supporting festival operations. We—the people—work with the not-for-profit Zimfest Association to plan, organize and run this festival! We think this is a really great thing, and you are warmly invited to be part of the festival in this way. Please go to the Why and How to Volunteer page to sign up if you would like to be involved in any project or activity.
Our new feature, Zimfest is Family, honors some of the volunteer families, many of them multi-generational, who have kept the Association and the Festival going year after year.