YOUNG mbira musician, Virimai “Vee Mhofu” Nhedega said his passion for mbira intensified after a surreal encounter with a mermaid in a dream.
BY WINSTONE ANTONIO
The 34-year-old musician, who grew up in Musana communal lands in Shamva, said he started playing mbira at 12 after his elder brother Edson Tawanda picked up a discarded mbira from a natural pool along Mudotwe River.
Born on Christmas Eve in 1986, Vee Mhofu said the incident shifted his interest from the guitar, after having been first inspired by music legends such as John Chibadura, Simon Chimbetu and Kenneth Chigodora.
“The first song I learnt was Chaminuka Ndimambo, the Nyamaropa version, which I was taught in a dream by a mermaid. Then my first teacher was Nice Mhofu Musiyanwa who taught me the songs Karigamombe and Mahororo,” he said.
Another mbira guru, Isdore Mukanya Chidziva, took Vee Mhofu under his wing and taught him Mbira dzemhemberero, with Masaisai Ngoma Dzavatema which had different types of mbira tunes.
The Dziva ReMbira Afro-Mix frontman said he experienced the power of the mbira spirituality and the traditional ways of the Shona people when he joined veteran ensemble, Mbira DzeNharira as the Nhare Nhovapasi mbira player.
“When I joined Mbira DzeNharira, they were now playing mostly in biras in Nharira Hills, in Sekuru Mushore’s Court,” he said.
After a dance with Mbira DzeNharira, he decided to pursue a solo career and established his four-piece band Dziva ReMbira Afro-Mix in 2007.
“That mbira I picked up from the pool was the inspiration behind the band’s name,” he said.
Off the stage, the multi-talented Vee Mhofu also had a fair share on the small screen after landing acting roles in some of the local top productions including the precolonial Tiriparwendo.
“Between 2011 and 2014, I featured in Tiriparwendo as Tirivai, the chief’s mbira player. In 2015, I was the main actor in Tale of the Box which was aired in cinemas,” he said.
“Then in 2018, I featured in Rujeko, a girl child activism film, sponsored by the Angel of Hope foundation and currently airing on ZBC.”
Vee Mhofu also featured in another television series, Madhuna Mutuna, written by Aaron Chiundura-Moyo and currently showing on ZTV.
Vee Mhofu plays a mixture of traditional and modern mbira music with a rich authentic traditional sound that has a hint of modern Zimbabwean feel.
The vocal arrangement of Dziva ReMbira Afro Mix have a traditional Zimbabwean feel infused with other local modern sounds like sungura, Zimbabwean jazz, marabi and jiti.
“We pride ourselves as one of the best-dressed Zimbabwean music outfit. Mbira having been on top of the Shona humanity has to be presented as such,” Vee Mhofu said.
The band currently has two albums — Makurutese and Chidhanu Dhamu (2017).
The band is currently working on their third album, Chiringazuva.
Vee Mhofu has previously collaborated with artistes including Biggaz Wakapiwa, Steve Banks and Baba Harare.
They have also performed at major national events like Mzee Bira, Mdala Wethu Gala, main Zimbabwe Tourism Authority events and at the Culture Week opening at Glamis Arena in Harare.