I was scheduled to assist at a children's African instrument workshop with the talented Tafi Mushuku, mbira player of Arimba Marimba - a group who are passionate about African instruments and traditional music, and do educational workshops with schools.
Before the workshop, I had the pleasure of watching Arimba Marimba perform in the O2 tent and they were received very well by us, the audience who were dancing and joining in with the call and response wholeheartedly. The set up featured two mbira (the national instrument of Zimbabwe) players, a percussionist, a drummer and singing from all four members; they sang traditional songs with spontaneous variations and additions, and gave a truly spirited and uplifting performance.
Zimfest was established in 2001 by Zimbabwean expats determined to cultivate positive action following the turbulence in their home country. Year after year thousands of people come together to eat fantastic food and listen to great music, contemporary and traditional, in a home from home. It has provided a platform for the celebration of its multicultural society by bringing together diverse acts all in one event. There were live performances, food and craft stalls, a children's area and a book corner where my books and cards could be found.
This year Zimfest was hosted by Homelanz, an umbrella event celebrating cultures from the southern hemisphere including Australian, New Zealand and South African so there was something for everyone; I was very excited to see Maori performers backstage. Around the world, Zimfest celebrates in the US and Zimbabwe as well as in London.
Zimfest is a charity event - funds raised here and other events organised by WEZIMBABWE support youth development, education, human rights delivery and the provision of basic support for the victims of the crisis in Zimbabwe. To date they have raised over £150,000 at Zimfest which has facilitated the education of thousands of children and made contributions towards a wide spectrum of causes in Zimbabwe.