Saying Goodbye to Cultural Activist Douglas Vambe
When I first met Mr Douglas Vambe I had just begun the journey of #ENTHUSE. The National Arts Council had invited us to our first out-of-town diary for the officiating of the Jerusarema Mbende Cultural Centre, back in 2015. At the back of a truck, Tata and I rode about 50kms out of Harare towards Murewa.
There, we were treated to a workshop where Mr Vambe participated so eagerly with the odd inappropriate humour yet strong points. He took the National Arts Council and UNESCO led-panel to task with so much gusto; “our culture is dying,” he lamented. Save for the fact that we were here ‘to fix that’.
I remember thinking to myself, “who is this pint-sized man, and does he run on batteries? Why does he ‘care’ so much?”
I had no idea that this was the legendary man whose drumbeat signalled the bedtime of so many young Zimbabweans, myself included; as the billboard for the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation’s news hour.
The second time I met him it was just last year, as he lent his wisened talent to the British Council and Econet supported Mix The City. A conversation with vaVambe was like catching up with an old friend.
He would look you straight into your eyes with boyish eagerness, I occasionally found it uncomfortable but Although it eased with time, it almost felt as if he could see the unsaid! I indulged him, trying to explain the premise of Digital Marketing to him as he nodded enthusiastically.
Little did I know that would be the last conversation.
Renowned drummer Douglas Vambe passed on yesterday 31 July 2018 at Parirenyatwa Hospital, Harare.
Douglas Vambe had dedicated himself to the growth of the Jerusarema Mbende Dance, a masterpiece of Oral and Intangible Heritage proclaimed by UNESCO in 2005. Vambe safeguarded the dance and promoted the cultural expression; popularising it both locally and internationally.
He was a Cultural Activist, Teacher and Artist.
Douglas Vambe, may your beat go on.
If you’d like to pay your respects, mourners are gathered in Runyararo at number 28 Kasipiti Road in Marondera.