Episode 68: Meet Wamkanganise naGaadza, Zimbabwean mbira maker, teacher, and cultural ambassador

Salani Wamkanganise naGaadza (center) with his wife Kelly Takunda Orphan playing mbira during a virtual live concert that was organized by the Eastman School of Music at the University of Rochester. Photo: Mosquito Media.

We speak with Salani Wamkanganise naGaadza, and Kelly Takunda Orphan, a husband and wife who are ambassadors of African music and culture. Salani, a Zimbabwean-born virtuoso, doesn’t just make music and teach people how to play mbira; he makes the instruments himself in the San Francisco Bay Area, where he lives.

Since 2017, Salani has performed and recorded with various mbira ensembles and bands. In 2020, UNESCO inscribed the mbira to be on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, and Salani was one of two featured cultural ambassadors during the filming of the project in Zimbabwe.

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