Zimbabwe: 'We Miss You Sister Chi'

Today marks the sixth anniversary since the death of celebrated songstress and mbira exponent, Chiwoniso Maraire.

Hailing from Chakohwa, Chimanimani, the "Ancient Voices" singer died on July 24, 2013 at the age of 37.

The Herald Arts caught up with Chiwoniso's friend, Chido Msasiwa, who reminisced on her experience with the late music icon.

"She had an interesting way of looking at things out of the box," said Msasiwa.

"I worked with her on various projects like Spar, Let Them Trust and she often performed at Phat Sam's where I was manager for some time.

"She was always down to earth and ready to do whatever it took to get the job done."

Msasiwa equated Maraire to the late United States legendary musician Lauren Hill.

"What I always marvelled at was that she did not realise the impact she had with her music and in her own words she said 'I sing and perform because I enjoy it and it makes me feel good'.

"This is after I said to her - do you realise you are the Lauren Hill of Zimbabwe and you can conquer the world," she said.

Msasiwa recalled the days when they sat together with Sister Chi sharing dinner, novels and many tales.

"We would often have dinner at her house, my house or my parents' house. She had a very homely side and she loved to cook up a storm. She would always over cook and I remember there would be leftovers for days. "I think the best times were with our kids away from people wanting photos or collaborations as this would often happen when we were in public spaces.

"She loved to read books, and we would always exchange novels she would have picked up on her numerous trips and whatever I would have," she said.

Msasiwa shared her last conversation with the late mbira maestro.

"She was super intelligent and I know those that had close interactions with her would have known this.

"Gone too soon. I so wish she was still around. I will never forget our last conversation after we visited her at the hospital

"She called and said 'I'm tired; I'm just really tired'," she said.

Msasiwa encouraged Sister Chi to fight on, but sadly, an hour later Zimbabwe lost one of its gifted daughters, who packaged mbira music into a melody the world still marvels at.

"You can't tire, you have kids, and you need to get your money from the last job so you bring Chengeto (Brown) back home," was Msasiwa's response to Maraire.

Maraire's music, a heart-catching sound that many ethnomusicologists have regarded as a spiritual soul, lives on not only through her music, but also her daughter Chengeto.

"I still cry when I hear her songs play or I look at her remaining child and grandchild, and think: this is what you are missing on.

"I guess where ever she is, she sees everything and is in a better place," said Msasiwa.

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