Zimfest News Blog

Zimfest Online in July

Happy (belated) solstice Zimfesters!

  • Our Zimfest Online presentations during June have gone well. Registration is now open for new offerings in July after we take a brief break for the 4th of July. 
  • We are happy to host Linos Wengara Magaya as a virtual presenter along with his bandmate Tim Lloyd on July 11. Based in the UK, their Zimbaremabwe band had to cancel their first US tour this year. See the Overview page for a photo and brief biographical info.
  • Zimfest Coordinator Claire Jones will host an interview with long-time friend Lucky Moyo on July 25th. This conversation is the second in in a series of interviews with individuals and non-profits working in Zimbabwe, made available for free as a public service by Zimfest. The exact time and specifics will be announced here and on Facebook.
  • And don’t forget the “Black Freedom Concert”  featuring Thomas Mapfumo and the Blacks Unlimited streaming live on Facebook from Eugene, OR on Friday, June 26, 2020: Live Stream by Studio 541 Productions on Facebook.

Stay Safe
Claire Jones, Zimfest Coordinator

Music Dancing Across Borders

Posted In: Festival News
Tagged With: , ,
No Comments — Comments Are Open Post Your Reply

Zimfest (and more) Online

Greetings all,

Here are some updates on online activities hosted by Zimfest and others:

  • You still have time to register for our final online presentation in June: Tendai Muparutsa will be sharing about his experiences teaching a world music ensemble at Williams College this Saturday June 20 at 1 PM Pacific Time.
  • More presentations will be forthcoming in July and beyond, and we’ll announce them after making some changes to our registration and tracking system. Meanwhile, we are wondering if any of you would prefer other times than the 1 PM Saturday time slot. If so, please comment on this post, or write to us at online{at}zimfest{dot}org with your suggestions. It’s not easy to fit into everyone’s schedules!
  • Exciting announcement from the Mambira Foundation
    “Black Freedom Concert”
    featuring Thomas Mapfumo and the Blacks Unlimited streaming live on Facebook from Eugene, OR on Friday, June 26, 2020
    Time: 11 am PST, 2 pm EST, 8 pm CAT (Central Africa Time)
    Live Stream – by Studio 541 Productions on Facebook
    Opening: RatieD Band featuring featuring Claire Ratie Dangarembwa Morgan, bandmates Gilbert Zvamaida, John Mambira and others

Friday is Juneteenth: Celebrate and march for freedom! 


Posted In: Festival News
Tagged With: , ,
2 Comments — Comments Are Open Post Your Reply

Zimfest Online Reminder

Dear Zimfest community,

Reminding you that registration for Zimfest Online presentations is open, and the first by-donation session is this Saturday, June 6 at 1 PM. Tapiwa Kapurura will be presenting about “Culture as Social Glue in a Challenged Community.” Go to Zimfest Online for the registration link.

If you missed it, the Interview with Moyo Rainos Mutamba is now on Youtube and accessible on the Zimfest 2020 Overview page. 

In solidarity,
Zimfest Online Task Force

Posted In: Festival News
Tagged With: , , ,
No Comments — Comments Are Open Post Your Reply

Registration Is Now Open for Zimfest 2020 Online

Registration is open for Zimfest Online — a series of Cultural Presentations by experienced Zimfest teachers. The presentations will take place online via Zoom video on Saturdays starting at 1:00 PM Pacific time. Please sign up!

June 6
Tapiwa Kapurura
Culture as Social Glue in a Challenged Community

June 13
Claire Jones
Mbira in Zimbabwean Popular Music: An Historical Perspective

June 20
Tendai Muparutsa
World Music Ensemble: Directing a College Marimba Band – A Williams College Experience

See the Zimfest Online web page for descriptions and the link to registration.

More offerings will be announced later.

In community, virtually,
The Zimfest Online Engagement Task Force

Posted In: Festival News
Tagged With: , ,
No Comments — Comments Are Open Post Your Reply

Karanga Storytelling with Anesu Ndoro

Dear Zimfest community,
We are pleased to post the following on behalf of Anesu Ndoro:

  • For the next 8 – 10 weeks (between May 27th and July 30th), Anesu Ndoro will be carrying out a summer program aimed at harnessing Karanga storytelling modes to heal during the coronavirus. Karanga storytelling traditions in Zimbabweans have existed for hundreds of years and are used to bring storytellers and their audiences together through listening, participating in the story and reflecting on the lessons of the story.
  • The program will consist of live storytelling Zoom sessions in ChiKaranga and English, interactive story posts in a Facebook and a WhatsApp group, as well as uploads to a YouTube channel, and website at the end of the program.
  • For those who are interested in being a part of this program, please contact Anesu Ndoro on ndoroam{at}gmail{dot}com or send him a private message on his Facebook account.
  • This program is sponsored by the Reed College Department of Anthropology.


Music Dancing Across Borders

Posted In: Zimfest Association News
Tagged With: ,
No Comments — Comments Are Open Post Your Reply

March and April Board Meeting Minutes

Minutes from the March 8th, March 21st, and April 12th meetings of the Zimfest Association board of directors have been posted. The March 21st meeting was held jointly with the 2020 festival Organizing Committee.

Posted In: Zimfest Association News
Tagged With: , ,
No Comments

Zimfest Online and more!

Dear Zimfest community,

We hope you are faring well as the country slowly emerges from lockdown. We have a lot to report:

  • Announcing Zimfest Online workshops for the month of June, taught by experienced Zimfest teachers seen on the 2020 Overview page. Mark your calendars and come back in the next few days to register for one, two or all three! 
  • We have been inspired by, and Zimfest owes everything to, many dedicated folks for whom volunteerism runs in the family.  Check  out our new feature in honor of some of them,  Zimfest is Family
  • Thursday May 21: the Google Doodle celebrates mbira!  And here’s a video about how they made the doodle: https://youtu.be/BNPSb4_c5_s. There are several prominent mbira players here – recognize our old friend Matemai?

Stay safe,
Claire (and the)
Zimfest Online Engagement Task Force

Posted In: Festival News
Tagged With: , ,
1 Comment — Comments Are Open Post Your Reply

Dr. Moyo Rainos Mutamba Interview

Announcing the initial Zimfest Online offering :

You are invited to a live multi-media interview of Dr. Moyo Rainos Mutamba by Zimfest Coordinator Claire Jones. Learn about Moyo’s ongoing project Ubuntu Learning Village, the construction of the Ubuntu Free School in the Serima area of Zimbabwe — and how you can help. The event will be on Zoom, and a link will be posted here and on the Facebook event page two hours before the event. If you are not a Facebook user, contact Dr. Mutamba at rainosm{at}gmail{dot}com for the link. Don’t worry if you cannot make it, a recording will be made for Zimfest’s homepage and Youtube channel.

Date: Sunday May 24 
2 – 3 PM Pacific time (5 – 6 EDT)
Where: Zoom
What: Zimfest Interviews Dr. Moyo Rainos Mutamba

Music Dancing Across Borders

Posted In: Festival News
Tagged With: ,
No Comments — Comments Are Open Post Your Reply

Support Zimbabweans: #GivingTuesdayNow

Dear Zimfest community,

#GivingTuesdayNow is a new global day of giving and unity that will take place on May 5, 2020 (in addition to the regularly scheduled Dec 1, 2020) as an emergency response to the unprecedented need caused by COVID-19.

We hope that you are all faring well during the coronavirus pandemic, whether staying at home or re-emerging (safely, we hope) into public life. The situation in Zimbabwe is dire. In an economy that has come to depend on informal trading, lockdown there significantly affects peoples’ ability to earn money and procure food and supplies. The threat of COVID-19, coupled with minimal access to soap and water, puts further strain on a healthcare system struggling to deal with a high prevalence of HIV /AIDS and tuberculosis, and an emergent malaria epidemic. We encourage those of you financially able to seek ways to provide support to our Zimbabwean friends, either directly on Facebook and GoFundMe pages, or indirectly, channeling funds through non-profits working on behalf of Zimbabweans.

We ask for your support for the Zimfest Association. Be aware that ZA occurs institutional costs even in years there is no festival, so we appreciate your support whether you choose to donate outright or renew your membership.

The Kutsinhira Cultural Arts Center, in addition to offering classes in Zimbabwean music and dance in Eugene OR, brings many teachers from Zimbabwe to the United States. Funds can be donated to Kutsinhira for dispersal to our Zimbabwean teachers and friends as well as to organizations operating in Zimbabwe. To make a donation through Kutsinhira, click the Donate Button at the top of the landing page at https://kutsinhira.org/

See the Links page on the Zimfest website (scroll down) for additional non-profit organization associated with Zimfest who provide direct and indirect services to Zimbabwe. These include:

  • Ancient Ways Nhimbe project: read the latest on-the-ground report from the Nhimbe team working in Mhondoro, Cosmas Magaya’s home area. Donate here.
  • Bana Bengwana Development Trust is an initiative by and for the people from Ngwana Area in rural Plumtree- Zimbabwe and beyond. Donate here.
  • Mbira.org, promoting mbira and providing support to players since 1998

This is not an exhaustive list; please add your suggestions in the comments section!

From members of the ZA Board and OC –                                     Zimfest Online activities coming soon!

Music Dancing Across Borders

Posted In: Festival News
Tagged With: , , ,

Zimfest Online News

Dear Zimfest community,
As disappointed as we are not to be able to physically gather this summer, the Zimfest Board and OC want you to know we are working on ways to virtually engage with you all.

  • Go to the Kutandara (Boulder, CO) website to learn about their many online activities. Randy and Amy have instituted the #KutandaraPlaysMarimba project offering free song-of-the-month marimba lessons on YouTube to get everyone playing “together.”
  • The Zimfest Organizing Committee will be offering the Cultural Presentations that the festival is known for on an online basis. Stay tuned!
  • Calling for a Digital Media Curator for Zimfest. We have a need for a digitally-minded volunteer to help us out as we work on putting more music and media online. This individual(s) would lead the way for Zimfest in the sourcing, collection, adjustment, inventory, and presentation of media types including audio, video, and photos.
  • Our call for designs for Zimfest this year has resulted in an updated logo – see below! Thanks to Penny Martindale for her creative eye!

Music Dancing Across Borders

Posted In: Festival News
Tagged With: , , , , ,
No Comments

Virtual Marimba Opportunity

Greetings Zimbabwean Music Community,

We hope you are faring well during these uncertain times. As we mentioned in the Zimfest Association post announcing the cancellation of Zimfest 2020, we have been brainstorming ways to sustain our community and celebrate Zimbabwean music and culture while remaining physically distant. In the meantime, a member of the community has shared with us an opportunity to perform marimba together virtually that we’d like to pass on to you.

Michael Smith, a Portland marimba teacher (and vendor at Zimfest 2016), has been working with his students on a Virtual MarimbaLab Project using their arrangement of the song “Lean On Me” in the key of C so that everyone (especially Zimbabwean-style marimba players) can participate.  He had just launched the project on his website when the news came out that composer and 1970s soul music icon Bill Withers had passed away, making the project more timely and poignant as a video tribute.

Go to Michael’s MarimbaLab website to learn more about the project and join in if you wish. Marimba players, drummers, hosho (shaker) players and hand-clappers are all welcome!

We would be remiss if we didn’t mention other Zimfest musicians who are finding ways to share their music online, Check out our favorite guitarist Zivanai Masango’s Facebook page and Youtube channel; the ZiMBiRA leader has so much to share! Those who are on Facebook will find lots of mbira music shared by–among many others–Zimfest teachers new (Taffie Matiure) and old (Joel Laviolette, hosting a weekly mbira session).  

Stay safe and healthy,
Zimfest Organizing Committee

Music Dancing Across Borders

Posted In: Festival News
Tagged With: , , ,
No Comments

Announcing the Cancellation of Zimfest 2020

Dear Zimfest Community,

After much discussion by the Zimfest Association Board and the Organizing Committee, we have decided to cancel Zimfest 2020. In lieu of holding the festival this year, we will begin to plan for Zimfest 2021, and also explore alternative opportunities for celebrating and supporting Zimbabwean music.

The health and safety of Zimfest teachers, performers and participants have been our paramount concern.

Although there is no way to predict what the status of the COVID-19 pandemic will be in late July, we must consider the possibility that restrictions will still be in place regarding large group activities that would require a last-minute cancellation of the festival.

If this were the only barrier we faced, a final decision could potentially have been postponed until later in the year, but unfortunately we also face a number of challenges in the short term:

  • The availability of Conference Services staff at The Evergreen State College, our Zimfest 2020 host, is very limited during this time, as all campus services are on deferred operations through at least April 24 due to COVID-19. As a result, we have not yet received the letters of invitation we requested for our Zimbabwean guests—these are necessary documents supporting their B-1 visa applications. We also require data on room allotment by early April in order to set up our registration system. As long as the deferred operations are in place, we can expect further delays in other essential information on facilities, concert, and workshop venues, adversely affecting our ability to open registration.  There is currently no estimate for when Evergreen Conference Services will resume normal operations.
  • The U.S. Embassy in Harare, where Zimbabwean visa applicants must appear for mandatory in-person interviews, has cancelled routine non-immigrant visa appointments as of March 19, 2020.  It is unknown when this restriction will be lifted.
  • Due to an increasing number of COVID-19 cases in Southern Africa, including Zimbabwe, South African Airlines has cancelled international flights for the indefinite future. This carrier provides flights from Harare to Johannesburg SA that are often the first leg of the journey from Zimbabwe to the US. Many flights onward from Joburg are also being cancelled and their future availability cannot be predicted.
  • The United States has barred entry of citizens from many regions of the world, including Asia, Europe, Canada and Mexico. There is no indication when such bans may be lifted.
  • Another consideration is the severe economic downturn caused by the pandemic. Members of the Zimfest community will be affected financially by working reduced hours or losing their jobs, while others are beset by new challenges such as converting from in-person to remote working or teaching. These difficulties could suppress Zimfest attendance, even if COVID-19 transmission were no longer an issue at the end of July.

In short, because of conditions outside of our control, we are unable to put on a successful Zimbabwean Music Festival this year. We believe that announcing the cancellation now, rather than waiting, will reduce financial losses by Zimbabwean artists who need to pay for visa applications, airfare, etc.

In times of stress and uncertainty, gathering together in community to celebrate Zimbabwean music and each other could be an especially healing and uplifting experience. Members of the Board and Organizing Committee mourn along with you the loss of our event and the incredible line-up of teachers and performers who planned to attend this year. We are especially sad about the lost opportunity for Zimbabwean artists to come to the festival, teach and perform, make new connections, and earn income for their families. 

We wish you and yours good health during these unsettled times, and extend our sympathy to anyone who has lost family members or friends to the virus. To the healthcare personnel in our community, we deeply thank you for helping save the lives of others, despite the risks. Traditional music has provided strength and healing during many troubled times; may you continue to gain comfort from the music we love, even as we ride out this unprecedented worldwide calamity.


Zimfest Association Board
2020 Zimfest Organizing Committee

Zimfest: Music Dancing Across Borders

Posted In: Festival News
Tagged With: , , ,