Book Café hails mbira

HARARE - Tomas Brickhill, the director of the Book Café, says he is proud of the role his award-winning arts venue has played in popularising mbira music.

“It (Book Café) was the first venue in town to give voice to mbira music. Mbira was not given a platform and people were not giving it the respect it deserves,” Brickhill told the Daily News.

“I feel that the Book Café has contributed a lot to the arts and culture sector of Zimbabwe.

“It was at first innovation and further persistence down the line.”

Brickhill, who took over the running of the award-winning arts venue following the death of his father Paul Brickhill in October last year, is delighted by the fact that other live music venues are beginning to adopt the mbira as well.

“After we introduced it, other places including Gijima Sports Bar have embraced mbira. These traditional instruments are part of the country’s heritage but they were being dismissed in favour of western pop culture,” he added.

“Just look at how we can identify with the West’s pop culture but we can’t do the same with ours. As the Book Café, we have made it our mandate to promote several aspects of our culture, including the mbira.

“I think what should be done is to make people appreciate their own music and culture. Our music has value, more than the pop music they like.”

Although Brickhill is happy with the Book Café’s contribution to the development of the country’s arts, he conceded that a lot still has to be done.

“I will just look back at four years ago. We have promoted so many bands, but not all of them. The industry is big and needs a lot of input for different people. If we can manage to do that, we will be able to preserve some of our cultural norms and values. These preservations can be done through music and as an institution we have been doing a lot,” he said.

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