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Last update: 2023-01-17
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Sekuru Kapampanta

Kalimba mudoko maker & player

Phone: +258 86 743 6008 (no Whatsapp)
Place of residence: Nhanzire, Guro district, Manica province


Meeting point: Nhanzire bridge (see picture below)

Biography

Americo Thekessi, also known as Kapampanta, makes and plays the Kalimba mudoko (small kalimba). His nickname, "Kapampanta", refers to his proficiency in "beating" the instrument.

Sekuru Kapampanta is uncertain of his exact birth year. His identification card states that he was born in 1970, but he recalls attending first grade at a primary school in Chin'ombe, Mungari administrative post, in 1973. The school was located in a military base run by FRELIMO, where all members of the community were required to go for education during times of war.

Kapampanta belongs to the Tonga ethnic group, like his parents who are also from Chin'ombe. His totem is called Chirenje, but he is unsure of the animal that represents it. His late fathers claimed that it is represented by the hood, a larger animal similar to an impala, but Kapampanta is not satisfied with this representation.

Tatenda Cangola and Sekuru Kapampanta close to his home at N7 bridge across Nhanzire river
Sekuru Kapampanta at his homestead
Sekuru Kapampanta holding Kalimba mudoko with resonator

Music

Sekuru Kapampanta plays the Kalimba mudoko, which he also refers to by the generic name "chisansi" (~"big keys"). It is a type of kalimba that originates from the Tonga people, also referred to as the "Kalimba of vatonga". Typically a solo instrument, he sometimes plays in an ensemble with other instruments such as the hosho, ngoma, kayembe (raft rattle), and clapping hands (kuombera maoko).

Kapampanta began learning to play the kalimba at the age of 15-18. He became interested in the instrument when he visited Kanyama, a nearby community where his mother was from, and saw his uncles Alberto Buraki, Baltazar Narete, and Manuel Narete playing it. The players who made the biggest impression on him were Alberto Buraki, who served as a teacher for all of them, and later Lazaro Vinho when he met him. Sekuru Kapampanta has a wide repertory of songs. He frequently plays his favorite "Kubara mature ndekha", as well as "Ndikharewa dzvakuseka", "Kapendekari", and "Kamwana kan'onon'ono". Besides personal entertainment, he plays his Kalimba at various ceremonies such as Bwada (when traditional beer is brewed to thank God for rain), and when officials visit the community to address political and administrative issues.

He believes it is important for players to master their instrument, be able to play something that brings joy to others, and offer guidance and advice through their songs.


Ine penu mayi ~ I don't know if I will survive this year

Ushamwari ngaufe ndadi shefi Pt.1

Ushamwari ngaufe ndadi shefi Pt.2

Rosada iwe Pt. 1 (coming soon)

Rosada iwe Pt. 2 (coming soon)

Ndikharewa dzvakuseka ine Pt.1 (coming soom)

Ndikharewa dzvakuseka ine Pt.1 (coming soom)

Instrument building

Sekuru Kapampanta began learning how to build Kalimbas many years ago, though he can't remember exactly when. He learned from Alberto Buraki and has only ever built his own type and tuning of kalimba. He tunes his kalimbas by ear, and believes that a good instrument must be finely tuned in order to produce a rich, harmonious sound when the keys are played together. This way, a skilled player can accurately bring out the desired sound of the songs they play.

Preserving Kalimba culture

In his area, Sekuru Kapampanta knows about the Kalimba mudoko and nkulu only, and another kalimba player named Santos Limbicani. He has never heard of any female kalimba players in history.

With no one following in his footsteps, he doubts that kalimba music will endure for the next 40 years, unless “we teach the young people and enjoy our own culture with all happiness. We need to teach them the value of our culture and to respect it, and we need to take this seriously. [One way we can do this is] by recording our songs in studios and sharing them on radio stations, so that the younger generation can see the importance we place on preserving our skills and traditions." (quote edited for brevity).

It is important to prioritise teaching young people how to build and play the kalimba, but in order to do so [in addition to addressing daily challenges], it needs funds and materials.

Sekuru Kapampanta appreciates our current project and is willing to support it in any way he can. He has previously worked with a group of women called Madzimai ne budiriro, led by Senhora Anosta, in Guro district.