Renowned traditional drummer Vambe dies

Kundai Marunya Arts Correspondent
Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation news bulletins drummer Douglas Vambe passed away yesterday morning at Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals in Harare after succumbing to a stroke.

He was 77.

Vambe drummed up the Jerusarema-Mbende beat played on ZBC news bulletins both on radio and television.

His niece Marvellous Vambe confirmed his death.

“My uncle had a stroke a week ago and was taken to Parirenyatwa Hospital where he died early this (yesterday) morning,” she said.

Vambe survived by his wife, daughter and a grandchild. Mourners are gathered at Vambe’s home in Marondera awaiting burial in Uzumba.

“At the moment we are still making burial arrangements but he will be buried at his rural home in Uzumba,” said Marvellous.

Meanwhile, condolences have been pouring in from different corners, with the recently-appointed National Arts Council of Zimbabwe director Nicholas Moyo describing Vambe as a cultural icon.

“Death has robbed us of an icon in issues of culture. He was an embodiment of heritage in Zimbabwe. His prowess on traditional drums knew no boundary and remains unmatched,” he said.

Moyo said Vambe served as an adviser to NACZ after Jerusarema-Mbende was declared an intangible heritage by UNESCO.

“Vambe was an expert at NACZ helping us in training young drummers after Jerusarema Mbende was declared an intangible heritage.

“He has gone too soon. I feel he left us without completing his role in educating young people both on the importance of culture and on preserving the drum,” said Moyo.

Born on August 2, 1942 in Magunje village, Uzumba District, Vambe’s drum beating expertise made him a legend in the arts industry and a familiar sound in every Zimbabwean household.

Internationally, his skill took him to United Kingdom where he performed at the Birmingham International Arts Festival sharing the stage with R’n’B star R Kelly.

He also shared the stage with Colombian music sensation Shakira at the 2010 FIFA World Cup finals in South Africa.

Jerusarema-Mbende is a dance is a popular with the Zezuru tribe mostly in areas like Murehwa, Uzumba, Maramba and Pfungwe districts in eastern Zimbabwe.

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