Google honours Zimbabwean mbira musical instrument

Google honours Zimbabwean mbira musical instrument

Harare, (New Ziana) – Google, the most widely used search engine on the internet, on Thursday honoured the Zimbabwean musical instrument, the mbira, by placing it on its homepage as a call for the world to celebrate the gadget.

The honour, which is in the form of what is referred to as a “Google
Doodle” – a special but temporary change of the Google logo on its main
page – is used in celebration of among other important holidays, discoveries and historical achievements.

In Thursday’s citation, Google, said: “Today’s interactive Doodle celebrates Zimbabwe’s national instrument, the mbira, as Zimbabwe’s
Culture Week begins.”

The instrument has been played mainly by the Shona people of Zimbabwe
for over 1 000 years.

Zimbabwe’s Culture Week,which cincides with UNESCO’s World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development which falls on May 21 every year, is this year running under the theme: “Zimbabwe @40, Celebrating our Cultural Diversity and Heritage”

“Originating in Southern Africa, the mbira has long played an integral
role in the traditions and cultural identity of Zimbabwe’s Shona people. It consists of a handheld hardwood soundboard (gwariva) affixed with a series of thin metal keys, which are plucked by the thumbs and forefinger,” Google said in its description of the instrument.

“A large hollow gourd (deze) provides amplification, and materials such as bottle caps or beads can be affixed to the soundboard to create the instrument’s signature buzzing sound.”

The instrument, initially used during traditional ceremonies, is now being fused with other newer musical instruments when creating music.

The late Chiwoniso Maraire, Oliver Mtukudzi and Stella Chiweshe are among Zimbabwe’s top musicians famous for using the instrument.

“While the mbira was traditionally played by men, Zimbabwean women have increasingly taken up the instrument in recent years and continue to push its timeless sound in new and contemporary directions,” Google said.

A team from Google, before the lockdown, visited the country, spoke to
artists who make and use the mbira instrument and produced a documentary on it.
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