Today Google celebrates Zimbabwe's national instrument: What is the mbira?

As on all special occasions, this Thursday, May 21, it celebrates the national instrument of Zimbabwe, the mbira, for Culture Week in this country. What is it about?

By  Right Now Newsroom

The Google Doodle today May 21 celebrates Zimbabwe's national instrument, the mbira, for "Zimbabwe Culture Week". This time, follow the experience of a Zimbabwean girl to discover and learn to touch her.

If you enter the famous search engine (not available in all countries) and press the play sign, it starts with an animation of a girl with her mother walking, then stopping to listen to an old man play the mbira. Next, Google users are invited to learn how to play a virtual mbira, hovering over the keys, while playing a traditional song called "Nhemamusasa".

The second chapter of the animation sees a man doing a mbira for the girl, and the third chapter sees the girl, now older, playing the mbria while others play various instruments and dance. Finally, the animation sees the young woman as an adult, playing with a band for a large crowd. In the end, she gives her mbira to a child as her journey closes the loop. Her journey also reflects the circular nature of Mbira music, which has no phrases, no beginning, and no end.

Throughout Google Doodle, users will also be able to play songs like "Taireva" and "Chemutengure", before playing for free. The mbira originated in southern Africa and has played a key role in the traditions and cultural identity of the Shona people of Zimbabwe for centuries.

Mbira, el instrumento nacional de Zimbabwe.

The instrument figures prominently in Shona ceremonies and is a crucial link to the past from playing songs that have been passed down for hundreds of years. The mbira was traditionally performed by men, but in recent years Zimbabwean women have begun to play the instrument with a contemporary direction.

The mbira is a 1,000-year-old instrument made of a hardwood (gwariva) hand-held soundboard and a series of thin metal keys, which are plucked with the thumb and index finger. On the other hand, a large hollow gourd (deze) amplifies the sound, and materials like bottle caps or beads can be attached to the soundboard to create the hum of the mbira.

Lisa Takehana, who designed the game, said: "Because we are celebrating a musical instrument, we knew we wanted our audience to experience the beauty of the mbira by playing a digital version and listening to a variety of songs ranging from traditional to contemporary. But what makes the mbira truly magical is that they come with thousands of years of history and culture, and it was essential for us to represent it beyond its technical components. "

South African Doodler Jonathan Shneier, who led engineering, said: "What stands out to me is the sense of community, belonging, and pride associated with the mbira, and the variety of ways it is intertwined in people's lives, from traditional to modern. We have tried to give people around the world a taste of a broad and deep cultural tradition that is not well known outside their homeland, and to give people in Zimbabwe the opportunity to stand up and to be seen, to be proud of what is uniquely yours. "

Just as on Mother's Day, Teacher's Day or for the Olympic Games, today, the Google Doodle, world famous search engine, chose to celebrate this tradition of Africa, in Zimbabwe.

Undoubtedly, knowing the customs, being more culturally diverse and learning from others is a teaching that, given the current context, leaves us more than a simple YouTube video, but a moral.

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