DUMISANI MARAIRE Zimbabwe musician, master of mbira

Abraham Dumisani Maraire (27 December 1944 – 25 November 1999), known to friends as “Dumi”, was a master performer of the mbira, a traditional instrument of the Shona ethnic group of Zimbabwe. He specialized in the form of mbira called nyunga nyunga, as well as the Zimbabwean marimba. He introduced Zimbabwean music to North America, initiating a flourishing of Zimbabwean music in the Pacific Northwest that continues to spread in the 21st century.


Maraire was born in Mutare, Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe). He began learning music from family members, and later at the college of music in Bulawayo. Maraire taught from 1968 through 1972 at the University of Washington in Seattle, where his daughter Chiwoniso Maraire (also a musician) was born. His another child, Tendai Maraire, also became a musician, who later formed a duo Shabazz Palaces. He remained in the region throughout until 1982, teaching at The Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington, giving private music lessons, performing in Pacific Northwest cities and in British Columbia with several marimba groups he founded.

Maraire returned to Zimbabwe in 1982 to develop an ethnomusicology program at the University of Zimbabwe. Four years later, he was back in Seattle, teaching and earning his own doctorate in ethnomusicology at the University of Washington, after which he returned again to teach at the University of Zimbabwe.

Dumi is credited for his famous 1–15 number notation used on the nyunga nyunga mbira and for notating the song “Chemutengure” on the nyunga nyunga mbira. The song “Chemutengure” is used to teach mbira learners the technique of playing the instrument.(Chirimumimba, 2007).

Maraire died of a stroke on 25 November 1999 in Zimbabwe.


  • Mbira Music of Rhodesia, performed by Abram Dumisani Maraire (1972). Seattle: University of Washington Press, Ethnic Music Series. Garfias, R. (ed.). 1 LP disc. 331⁄3 rpm. mono. 12 in. UWP-1001. This disc features Maraire exclusively on Nyunga Nyunga mbira. A 12-page booklet by Maraire is included, describing the background, composition, and performance of nyunga-nyunga mbira music.
  • Chaminuka (1989). Dumi’s first commercial recording on CD. Music of the World.
  • Shona Spirit (1995). Dumisani Maraire & Ephat Mujuru. Music of the World. ASIN: B000003IT0. Amazon.com
  • Pieces of Africa (1992). Kronos Quartet. Nonesuch UPC 075597927528 ASIN: B000005J15. Amazon.com
  • Masters of the African Mbira (2000). Ephat Mujuru & Dumisani Maraire. A licensed compilation of various tracks from (Music of the World) recordings. Arc Music, ASIN: B00003ZL43. Amazon.com


  • Adzenyah, A. K., Tucker, J. C., & Maraire, D. (1997). Let Your Voice Be Heard! Songs from Ghana and Zimbabwe. World Music Press, ISBN 0-937203-75-0. Amazon.com

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