In the winter of 2005, I traveled with Peta to Iceland to work with Robert Falkner's groups. We taught the groups there marimba music and dances from Zimbabwe, Botswana and South Africa – and had a fantastic few days working with the young people there.
Later that year, Zimba Marimba began plans to travel to the USA for the west coast’s annual Zimbabwean music festival – ZimFest – a celebration of Zimbabwean music and culture. We had a wonderful week of workshopping, performing, networking, live marimba and mbira music and traditional dancing. Some of my personal highlights included seeing the Chigamba family perform – namely, Irene Chigamba dancing, and her father, Tute Chigamba, playing mbira and Chipindura; getting to hear Michael Sibanda (my first marimba teacher) perform; getting my first taste of Mbira Dzavadzimu from Fradreck Mujuru; and learning Mhande, a ritual rainmaking dance, with Ilana Moon. We came back from the USA with a new energy and great eagerness to learn more.
Peta organised several workshops with musicians like Martin Svensson, Luckson Chikutu, Tipei Marazanye and Celso Paco to name but a few. We soon started fundraising to get ourselves back onto African soil – and we were fortunate enough to get a boosting from a local culture fund, which saw us meet our funding target. We left for South Africa in August 2006, and spent a few days there before heading on to Mozambique to first work with the National Dance Company of Mozambique in the capital, and later, with Timbila master maker, composer and player, Venancio Mbande, in Inhambane. We then set off for Zimbabwe – where we spent our time between Harare and Chiriseri in Domboshawa. This, for me, was an utmost incredible study tour as we really got to submerge ourselves in the rich musical and rhythmic culture of the Shona people of Zimbabwe. We studied with performing artists and teachers like Rujeko Dumbutshena; Ronnie Daliyo; Tute Chigamba; Hwamanda Dance Troupe; and uZambezi to name but a very few. Many of the names are hard to recall now after so long, but the faces and joyous moments live vividly on in me.
Towards the end of our stay, we gave a concert at the College of Music alongside several other artists, which was apparently broadcast on national television. This was probably because we played Hondo – a marimba adaptation of a very spiritual mbira song that says Zimbabwe's liberation came about through bloodshed, as was predicted by the spirit medium Chaminuka (Zimbabwe yakauya nehondo; Chaminuka wakauraiwa – nehondo, vakomana).