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Patrick Chimbewa propels playing of traditional instruments

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Traditional instruments are part of the country’s culture and identity but most of them risk being forgotten because only a few people play them.

It is even a challenge in that most of these instruments are played by the older generation with little done to pass the talent to the younger generation for continuity.

But, despite this gap, there are other players that have taken up the lead role to propel the playing of different traditional instruments and they include Patrick Chimbewa from Ntchisi District.

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Having learnt playing some of the traditional instruments such as sansi or mbira (African thumb piano) from veteran ethno-musician Charles Charamangwere Mkanthama, Chimbewa has mobilised fellow youths in Ntchisi to teach them some of the traditional instruments.

Chimbewa started the project last year in November.

“These instruments have been there, we need not lose them. Our forefathers were playing these instruments, they have their own unique sound and they are part of our culture. If we are not careful we will lose them and we will find others outside playing them,” he said.

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Some of the instruments that Chimbewa is concentrating on include sansi, kaligo, drum (ng’oma) and other percussion instruments.

“So far I am working with 10 members and there is interest from others. Our friends in other countries value these instruments and we need to do the same. The basis of music lies in these instruments and we can only create music which has an identity when we play these instruments,” Chimbewa said.

He said, apart from teaching traditional instruments, he has also made some of the instruments using locally available resources which he is set to distribute to the members he is working with.

“To motivate them, the best thing I had to do was to make some of these instruments and distribute to them so that it helps them, in terms of practice. This will also drive them to teach others out there,” Chimbewa said.

The youthful artist, who was part of the 2016 Talent from Malawi and starred at the Forde Traditional and World Music Festival in Norway, recently also showed his drive in preserving traditional instruments to create a new instrument known as sansiba.

The sansiba is an extension of the sansi connected with the baza. It allows the player to show his skills on the Sansi by playing the metals and also blow the baza.

Last year, Unesco emphasised the need to preserve the playing of traditional instruments by listing sansi on Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

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