Home Celebs Mbira Legend ‘Magaya’ Succumbs to COVID-19

Mbira Legend ‘Magaya’ Succumbs to COVID-19

Mbira Legend 'Magaya' Succumbs to COVID-19

Late mbira player, musicologist and researcher Cosmas Magaya, who was laid to rest early this week, succumbed to Covid-19.

According to Mudavanhu Magaya — family spokesperson and last born to the late mbira teacher — they only established that his father had tested positive for coronavirus on Saturday when the second batch of results came.

Magaya, who was aged 67, died in Mhondoro and had no history of travel in recent months. However, he used to tour the US before the coronavirus outbreak for classes.

In an interview with H-Metro, Mudavanhu said nine family members have since been tested for Covid-19 and they are waiting for the results. “Prior to the death of our father, the rapid reaction results conducted on him showed that he had tested negative for Covid-19.

“However, further results that were conducted at Lancet Laboratories showed it was indeed Covid-19 and we got them on Saturday.

“We had to go ahead with the burial and alerted people that there was no need for them to come to the funeral since our father had tested positive for Covid-19,” he said.

Mbira Legend 'Magaya' Succumbs to COVID-19

Mudavanhu said they will adhere to the Covid-19 regulations as tests and contact tracing is being done by health experts.

“At the moment we are just at home waiting for results and the way forward. “It’s a bit scary to the family members, but as a man, I have learnt to be strong so that I welcome any results they are to deliver. “Being a new disease, people tend to panic and my family members here are also scared, but it is my hope that we will manage to handle it,” he said.


Mudawavanhu said condolence messages were still coming from fellow musicians who could not attend the funeral. “To date, we have received a lot of support from fellow musicians like Thomas Mapfumo, Mbira DzeNharira, Maungira eNharira, his students from America and local arts regulatory chiefs who knew mdara.

“He was indeed a favourite of many judging by the support he received,” he said. As a reciprocal gesture, Mudavanhu said, a big bira will be conducted in honour of the late mbira player once the Covid-19 situation recedes.

“We would want to remember him with a massive show in the future once the Covid-19 era is over. “Mdara was a teacher and musicologist who taught many students and his legacy needs to be protected,” he said.


Magaya, who was backed by the mighty Mhuri Yekwa Rwizi before he established himself in America and the UK, left behind a legacy that Mudavanhu vowed to keep alive.

“My father used to run marimba and mbira classes here in Mhondoro under the Humwe banner.

I will carry on with the legacy because he also taught me to play mbira as well. “He also wrote a book titled Mbira Restless Dance, due to be published soon, and he also co-authored other books with research Professor Paul Berliner, like the Soul of Mbira in 1978 and the Art of Mbira.

“All these efforts were part of his research as he sought to promote this genre. “He was also a huge influence who taught at universities in the US and he would spend six months in America and the other half of the year back in Zimbabwe.

“That alone showed he was indeed a hard-working person who marketed Zimbabwe using his mbira knowledge, which he shared with the world and we are happy he left behind the literature that will be used for years


Being the only son to the late gwenyambira, Mudavanhu said he was ready to work with his family and follow in their father’s footsteps.

“I am the only son in the family and I have three sisters of which one of them, Tsitsi, born in 1979, is in the US, while Matilda (1977) and Rutendo born in 1984 are here in Zimbabwe.

“As a family, we have accepted that Covid-19 is real, but we will be strong with each passing day. “We will be stronger once the results come and we are ready to keep our father’s legacy alive he added.

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