a public digital humanities project featuring renowned Zimbabwean mbira player Sekuru Tute Chigamba

Sekuru’s Stories is a public digital humanities project featuring the renowned Zimbabwean mbira player, oral historian, and ritual specialist Sekuru Tute Chigamba. Bringing Sekuru Chigamba’s oral narratives, or nhoroondo, together with musical transcriptions, recordings, photographs, and maps, the project presents Zimbabwean musical and cultural heritage in an interactive format. Sekuru’s Stories has been made possible with the generous support of the American Council of Learned Societies.

Sekuru’s Stories was built publicly, with new material added weekly basis until it was completed in September, 2019.


Photo of Professor Jennifer Kyker and Sekuru Tute Chigamba, in front of the Eastman School of Music
Jennifer Kyker and
Sekuru Tute Chigamba

Sekuru’s Stories is co-authored by Sekuru Tute Chigamba and Jennifer Kyker. Born in 1939 in the rural district of Guruve, Chigamba, Tute Chigamba is now referred to by family, friends, and students alike using the honorific title Sekuru, or “Grandfather.”  Jennifer began studying mbira with Sekuru Chigamba in 1995. She is currently Associate Professor of Ethnomusicology at the Eastman School of Music and the College of Arts, Sciences, and Engineering at the University of Rochester.

Navigating Sekuru’s Stories

As a digital monograph, this project is organized into four sections, conceived as roughly akin to chapters. In the first, Sekuru Chigamba relates stories from his early years in Guruve, beginning with his birth in 1939 and ending with his departure as a migrant laborer in 195*. In the second, he recounts stories about his life in the urban capital, from his experiences attending ceremonies in the early 1960s to his emergence as an international musical figure in the late 1990s. In the third section, Sekuru Chigamba offers a detailed account of his primary instrument, the mbira dzavadzimu, exploring topics such as the mbira’s origins, the law of mbira, and the social role of the mbira player, or gwenyambira. In the fourth part of the site, Sekuru Chigamba recounts the oral history of the Soko Wafawanaka clan, rulers of Guruve. As a member of the clan, he traces his lineage back to its founding ancestor, Chingowo.

Chicago Dzviti Collection

Sekuru working on an mbira
Sekuru working on an mbira

Many of the photographs used in this site belong to the Chicago Dzviti Collection, held in the University of Rochester’s Department of Rare Books, Special Collections & Preservation (RBPSC). This collection was acquired from Chicago Dzviti’s widow Lorraine Chitungo, with generous support from Dean Gloria Culver in AS&E.

Further Reading

Project team
Jennifer Kyker
Jim Barbero