Multimedia: A tribute to Chiwoniso Maraire

I JUST had to pen something about this mbira maestro Chiwoniso Maraire.



Watch the NewsDay ‘Tribute to Chiwoniso’ video below featuring interviews on the life and times of the mbira icon :

For today, I mourn one of Zimbabwe’s greatest women who popularised the mbira instrument. She has died hardly a year following her ex-husband’s death, another great singer and music composer, Andy Brown, who passed away in March last year.

I got to know Chiwoniso through her father, the late Dumisani Maraire, who was an officer in the Ministry of Sports and Culture in the early 80s. During that time, I was attached to the Ministry of Sports and Culture as an information officer under former Minister Nathan Shamuyarira.

Affectionately known as Chichi, Dumi was very proud of his daughter, who strangely spoke her mother tongue with a very deep chiManyika accent despite being born in the United States.

Dumisani Maraire. Picture from
Dumisani Maraire. Picture from

Thanks to her dad who was a hardcore traditionalist who upheld his cultural values which also saturated through her music.

She lived in truly Zimbabwean style and this was expressed in her lyrics. She was deeply rooted in Zimbabwe’s culture.

There are so many people that were born outside Zimbabwe and chose to stay in those countries. That was not the case with the Maraire family. Dumi instilled Zimbabwean culture into his children, something most people in the Diaspora have failed to do.


Andy Brown and Chiwoniso
Andy Brown and Chiwoniso

The last time I met Chichi was when she played at the Community Builders awards organised by Alpha Media Holdings, the company that publishes NewsDay, in December last year.

She gave me that infectious smile of hers as I took a close-up picture of her with my camera as she fingered her mbira instrument.

She was full of life, had a bright future, was a great music ambassador and no doubt a legend in that music genre. Her father was the one who introduced her to playing marimba and mbira, but she was to settle for the latter which she once described, in earlier interviews, as having a healing and soothing effect on her.

Chii doing what she knows best, playing the mbira and singing
Chii doing what she knows best, playing the mbira and singing

Every time Dumi opened his his mouth, he would mention Chiwoniso. He was proud of her.

When Chichi’s mum died, it was devastating for her family and Chichi penned a song in her memory titled Mai Fambai Zvakanaka, one of her hit tracks on the album Ancient Voices.

When she fell pregnant and married Andy Brown, Dumi expressed his dissatisfaction about their relationship.

But he said it was difficult to separate the two as they had so much in common. Brown’s musical lyrics were basically Shona, with a Karanga accent and she became a backing vocalist.


Chichi did much collaboration with Brown and fans of this couple can testify that their voices blended so well. When Chichi’s marriage with Brown failed, they remained friends, but she always said she was the number one fan of her ex-husband.

When he passed on, Chichi cancelled her weekend performances in honour of her late ex-husband, who also died from a similar illness. She was so devastated by his death because he too had mentored her to become an internationally-acclaimed artiste.

They had two children together – Chengeto and Chiedza. Recently, Andersen Mamimine, told me in an interview how Chichi had housed him at her Bluf Hill home for nearly nine months.


Mamimine said he attributed his success to her as she kept on encouraging him to realise his dream. Mamimine, who sings with his Positive Living Choir, was the first runner-up in the Africa Health award sponsored by Voice of America.


Chichi was recognised and won a prestigious award Decouverte Afrique sponsored by Radio France International after releasing her debut album Ancient Voices in 1998. The album entered the World Music Charts Europe three times and brought her a nomination in the category of Best Female Vocals of Africa for the Kora Awards in 1999. The social media is awash with condolence messages from all over the world.

Rest in peace.

“..Reach out to those around you, because it is about love..and you let your tears flow and mingle with the dust- peace settles in your heart..because it is about trust.” Chiwoniso Maraire in Everyone’s Child


Meanwhile, tributes continued to pour as the nation plunged into mourning. Click here to read the story


  1. Father Flower

    RIP indeed Chiii u are now a legend yo sweet melodious voice lives on and your mbira playing prowess will never be equalled. Now Ropa where is the video attachment?

  2. fodya yaiwanda plus dope zvekare

    1. Yesterday tiri pa Chapman golf clud from Chiwoniso’s friends Mbanje dzakamukuvadza these were the words

  3. Mhai fambai zvakanaka, mhai tichazomuvona R.I.P Chichi you still live in our hearts.

  4. Prezzo getaway kana washaya zvekutaura nyarara, dont talk as if u are a saint. RIP Chi, you made your mark

    1. At Father Flower. The attachment is the first pic on this story. Click the arrow and listen to the tributes that have poured in…mine included

  5. Zvinorwadza izvi. RIP Chichi. Super talented and great personality, we lost a gem.

  6. Who do u think u are to speek ill of the dead like u will never will?l was really fond of your music chichi .may yours rest in peace .

  7. Chenjerai Hove

    What a loss, so much pain. Blown away by the winds of death, so soon. We will miss Chiwoniso for so long. We will listen to her music, and cry all the time. These are tears of yearning.if only she had lived longer, we will say.

    I thank her so much for her commitment to the art of music, the art of loving her audiences, and her practical approach to life. She left the world much better than she found it, all through music and a glittering personality.

    As we listen to her music in her absence-presence, let us think of Chiedza and Chengeto, her little ones whom she loved in deed and music.

  8. True to your word brother Chenjerai. Ana Prezzo, kuita semakasika nyika.

  9. there is nothing like R.I.P its only God who has the mandate to say so,coz ndiye anonzera itsvo nemwoyo nemabasa akabatwa nemunhu panyika,Only him Only…mind y eternal life statrts here on earth once we receive Christ as our Saviour…kana tafa its a continuation of eterna life.Eternal rest depends on hw mafambire atakaita pano panyika Rev14v13

    to Chio,we cherish the good works that y hv done to us,kunesu vasara ngatishingaire kuitira Mwari nevanhu zvakanaka,shuwa kudenga kune nhaka 1Peter 1v3

    1. when people say “rest in peace” what they actually mean is “may you rest in peace”… and why does the eternal defination of life be seen through the supposed Christ?? I’m sick and tired of you christian bigots who want to impose their primitive ideas on everybody. REST IN PEACE darling sister

    2. Mr Pretend Christian

      It RIP a word of comfort, solidarity in mourning and a way say goodbye.

      If you think there were no such similar ways, you need to read the bible from Genesis till the end.

      In fact YOU are supposed to comfort those who suffer loss

  10. rip-rise if possible

  11. chichi, give us 3 wks we wld have 4gten abt u.

    1. You lied brother…
      years have gone by and we still here listening to what she left behind

  12. chichi chii chakakumedza nhai.idhobhi ere nhai

  13. As an artist we have to take off our hats to her as she is one of a few who took a path with the mbira instrument and gave same a place. She gave a fresh face to mbira music fusing it with modern tunes, in this respect she was an inspiration! She has left a mark on this genre and she will be missed greatly. It is also unfortunate that this has happened when she was really beginning to blossom..Vaida kuda kwavo ishe but Chioniso has left a great void in this genre.Her replacement will have big shoes to fill.

  14. Sipiwe Kachidza-Mapfumo

    Chichi go well my sister. To a brilliant and talented young woman gone too soon. You left your mark and keep on singing.

  15. Ivai naye Mwari baba Mwari baba ivai naye R.I.P Chichi. you’ve fought a gud fight

  16. stewart manzou

    its so painfull to miss u hommie all wat i can say is “zvaunoziva taikudaa tichasangana ikoko , iwe uchiziva taikudaa munhu akabarwa nemukadzi anemazuva mashoma panyika azere nokutambudzika tichasangana ikoko ndimwari baba vachatisanganisa”

  17. Vamwe vakarara nenzara vamwe vachifa nekuguta tiri vana venyu ivai nesu mwari baba

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