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“Chemtengure”

Audio
Chemtengure

Chemtengure is a traditional Shona melody remembering a vendor named Vajeke who brought familiar treats like sweet potatoes to children living in boarding schools far from home. Lora Chiorah-Dye recalls singing the melody in first grade in school. Drawing on the memory of her school days, she wrote this song about Vajeke after she moved to the United States. It is played here on guitars and mbira, but it can also be sung unaccompanied. Lora Chiorah-Dye and Sukutai recorded three songs for Safarini - Chemtengure, a traditonal Shona melody, Mwari Komborera/God Bless Africa (known to many as the "African National Anthem") and Nyoka Musango. Nyoka Musango ("Snake in the Grass"). Many Shona songs are based on proverbs and have more than one possible meaning. They can be translated to whatever meaning suits the situation. Lora Chiorah-Dye was raised first in a traditional home and then at a mission in Zimbabwe. She first came to the United States in the 1970's to join her then husband, Dumisani Maraire. Teaching her three children the marimba and mbira music of Zimbabwe, Lora began to create the nucleus of a musical ensemble. In 1980 she formed the Sukutai Marimba and Dance Ensemble to celebrate the heritage of Zimbabwe's Shona people and to provide an opportunity for teaching music and dance to Americans. With sixteen performers ranging in age from 12 to 50, they perform a variety of music. Lora and Sukutai are noted both for their performance ability and their dynamic stage shows, but most importantly for the work Lora does in training young people. Sukutai is one of the region's oldest African music ensembles. Its members have performed widely to critical acclaim, including several tours of Europe, Asia and the Americas.

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