The MBIRA Organization

MBIRA Board President Erica Azim & Vice-President Mahea Uchiyama.
MBIRA Board President Erica Azim & Vice-President Mahea Uchiyama.

MBIRA spreads the beauty and healing of Zimbabwean mbira music to the world. We have sent $1.1 MILLION DOLLARS of support to musicians and instrument makers in Zimbabwe during our first 20 years!

Mission Statement

MBIRA supports the ancient musical traditions of Zimbabwe through education, performances, and recordings in the United States and worldwide. It maintains the largest archive of Shona music in the world and provides essential support to traditional musicians and instrument makers in Zimbabwe.

MBIRA was incorporated in the State of California as a non-profit public benefit corporation in 1998. The corporation has non-profit status from the U.S. government under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, thus all donations are tax-deductible.

Board of Directors

  • Erica Azim, President
  • Mahealani Uchiyama, Vice-President
  • Joan Patton, Secretary
  • Todd Boekelheide, Treasurer
  • Marie Ali
  • Genine Coleman
  • Tracy Willett

MBIRA’s activities and budget are decided by the Board, which meets at least once a year.

Making it Happen

Erica Azim directs the day-to-day activites of MBIRA, teaching and organizing workshops and performances, making and mixing recordings, tuning and shipping instruments, and maintaining the MBIRA office. But she couldn’t do it all without help from others.

MBIRA‘s original website structure was designed by Greg Jalbert in 1998. MBIRA‘s original online catalog and current website structure were both designed by Paul Novitski. Both volunteered an immense contribution that has made MBIRA‘s resources available to the entire world. Karla Leibowitz also worked on the current website, and Tony Hoeber gave helpful design tips.  Various others wrote individual webpages as noted on the pages. Thank you all!

MBIRA had a part-time assistant from 2009-2014 who contributed so much, in so many ways, to MBIRA: ‘Seda’ Joseph Saine.

MBIRA‘s current assistants in Zimbabwe are Fradreck Mujuru, Edward Mude, and Tinotenda Mujuru. Fradreck Mujuru gives extremely valuable assistance, keeping all aspects of MBIRA‘s Zimbabwe activities thriving in spite of many challenges. Tute and Irene Chigamba, Cosmas Magaya, Patience Chaitezvi Munjeri, and “Samaita” Vitalis Botsa also help MBIRA in Zimbabwe.

MBIRA‘s past assistants in Zimbabwe include Munashe Chivese, Kevin Muchena, Mudavanhu Magaya, Denver Banda, Ignatious Mashinya, Kudzanayi Mujuru, and Killian Mujuru.

MBIRA also has various volunteers, and we couldn’t do what we do without them! A big THANK YOU to all past and present volunteers, and MBIRA always welcomes new volunteers. Current and past volunteers are too many to list here, but include Jeannie Pham, Titania Buchholdt, Seth Geddes, Kaia Wong, Kara Schamell, Cindy Lo, Genine Coleman, Hillary Overberg, and James Foley. A big thank you to Zak Shuman for filming our video mbira lessons.

Many many people have generously opened their homes to host MBIRA‘s workshops. Others have cooked fabulous meals for workshops. And, many have helped to organize performances and workshops. Special appreciation goes to Pablo Paz and Hernan Gulla, who have organized performances and workshops for MBIRA in Argentina for many years, and created the largest community of mbira players outside Zimbabwe. Also important are the many volunteers who drive instruments up to Zimfest, and help out at the MBIRA Zimfest table.

MBIRA respects the long history and cultural/religious context of mbira music in Zimbabwe, and offers thanks to the great spirits of Zimbabwe – the “owners” of this music.

MBIRA is very interested in receiving feedback from both Zimbabweans and non-Zimbabweans regarding its policies and activities. Contact us, and we will respond as soon as we can!

Pablo Paz and Hernan Gulla
Hernan Gulla and Pablo Paz