Santa Cruz Mbira Immersion Day

photo – Musiquito Media

A Day Filled with Music & Community


Immerse yourself in the traditional music and dance of Zimbabwe in a serene outdoor setting in the redwoods!

Workshops are planned for all levels on mbira, drumming, hosho, dance, and singing. A vegetarian lunch will be available and we will end the day with a traditional Zimbabwean dinner feast (prepared by our mbira teacher and excellent chef Salani!), a brief performance by the teachers, and a community mbira party for those who want to join us through the evening.


Salani Wamkanganise naGaadza – mbira
Julia Tsitsi Chigamba – drum, dance, hosho
Kelly Takunda Orphan – nyunga nyunga, singing
See teachers bios below –


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Zimbabwean music and dance offer us a profound opportunity to celebrate the genius of Zimbabwean culture and experience the value of community and connection.

We will be exposed to dances such as Dinhe (focusing on the earth – picking up all the things people have left – COVID-reunion – sharing of stories – restoring what was lost) and the Mauya Mauya/welcome dance (dancing with baskets/gourds on our heads), as well as mbira and nyunga nyunga songs to play and sing.

But on this day our instructors are less concerned about the commodifying of Zimbabwean art (the rush or push to “acquire” more songs, dances, and material), but are more concerned with connecting ourselves with each other, with our bodies, and with the earth.

We look forward to seeing what we will create and explore as a community.

message from the teachers

~ Julia Tsitsi Chigamba, Salani Wamkanganise naGaadza, Kelly Takunda Orphan


$100-150 Sliding Scale: Full Day including vegetarian lunch, Zimbabwean dinner and evening performance

You may also sign up for part of the day’s events:

  • Workshops: $20/hour – 20% discount if you take 4+ hrs
  • Lunch: $10
  • Dinner + evening entertainment: $15-$30 sliding scale
  • Work trade available for a limited number of folks; please inquire if interested

Walk-ins will be accommodated as space permits.



9:30 am – Check-in
10:00 am – 6:15 pm – Workshops (including breaks).
6:30 pm – Dinner, performance and mbira party into the evening


Please bring your instruments for the workshops you are interested to attend, and we also have some loaner instruments available – please let us know in advance what instrument you would like to borrow.

If you have any extra of the below that you are willing to share, please also let us know (thank you!)

  • Mbira + Deze (Nyamaropa tuning, Magaya pitch)
  • Nyunga Nyunga (in F, 16-key)
  • Drums (cowskin preferred, congas, etc)
  • Hosho



The camp is held at the Moeller’s residence located in Bonny Doon about a 20 minute drive from the city of Santa Cruz. We can send detailed directions upon registration.

You may camp on the property if you wish to stay over, but please us know in advance, and bring breakfast supplies or a donation toward the hosts’ groceries.



All scheduled events will take place outdoors, so bring layers of clothing. Inquire before registering if you are not fully vaccinated.

A non-refundable $20 deposit must be received by October 16 for full day attendees to reserve your spot (so we can plan the food needs). On the day of the event, please bring cash/personal checks for any remaining payments as internet will not be available.

Deposits or full advance payment can be made by personal check (made out to Betty Weiss, 225 Crook Road, Los Gatos CA 95033), PayPal (, or Venmo (@Betty-Weiss-1, digits 1578). On the day of the event, please bring cash/personal checks for any remaining payments as internet will not be available.

There will also be items available to purchase: Zimbabwean instruments, designer African clothing made by Julia Tsitsi Chigamba (Tsuro Collection), mbira/deze bags, and more – so bring some extra cash/checks!

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We look forward to seeing you there!




Julia Tsitsi Chigamba, founder and director of the Chinyakare Ensemble, grew up in the rich cultural traditions of Shona music and dance. She is the daughter of the highly respected gwenyambira, Sekuru Chigamba, and was a longtime member of Mhembero, the Chigamba family dance and mbira ensemble, as well as the National Dance Company of Zimbabwe. Julia came to the US in 1999. Two years later, in Oakland, California, she established the organization Tawanda muChinyakare and the music and dance company Chinyakare to share the beauty and wisdom of her culture. She teaches and performs music and dance with the aim of promoting healing in the community. Most recently, Julia was the curator for a collaborative event involving the Chinyakare Ensemble and the San Francisco Symphony for an episode of their Currents series, which aired in May 2021.

Julia is also the artistic director of the Kumusha Foundation, a nonprofit founded to educate and train performing artists in the cultural arts of Zimbabwe and recognize and celebrate Zimbabwean culture. Julia has also started her own clothing line inspired by African designs, the Tsuro Collection. Julia continues to teach dance, music and culture in Oakland schools and in the community at Destiny Arts Center and the Alvin Ailey summer program.


Salani Wamkanganise naGaadza is a mbira maker and mbira player and cultural ambassador from the township of Warren Park in Zimbabwe. 

Salani was exposed to mbira music at a young age and was determined to play mbira, seeking out every opportunity to play mbira. 

Salani attended Prince Edward High School, where he began to study and perform alongside his teacher, Musekiwa Chingodza. From 2003-2008, Salani lived and performed in Victoria Falls. In 2008, Salani returned to Harare, where he began to study the art of mbira making. In 2014, Salani was invited to be an artist-in-residence in Kobe, Japan, where he performed solo concerts, recorded his first solo album and taught various workshops on mbira, hosho, dancing, and singing. Since 2017, Salani has performed and recorded with various mbira ensembles and bands, including the famed Zimbabwean singer Diana Samkange. In 2019, Salani recorded four songs for Facebook’s Sound Collection with the traditional group, Munzwo Mbira Ensemble, featuring Irene Chigamba, Wiriranai Chingonga and Lloyd Manzi. 

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 speakers or cultural ambassadors during the filming of the project in Zimbabwe. 

Currently, Salani lives in the San Francisco Bay Area, California, and continues to build mbira, teach, and perform. He has worked with The KTO Project, PIWAI, and heads the group Mbira dzaSoko with his solid bass singing and rhythmical mbira playing.

When asked about making mbira instruments, Salani stated in an interview: “The art of making the mbira instrument requires persistence for perfection, precision, attention to detail, mindfulness, a sense of beauty and commitment. There is a mixture of three trades in one, carpentry, metal fabrication, and a musical soul; thus, mbira making falls between art and engineering.”


San Francisco Bay Area native Kelly Takunda Orphan has been singing, dancing, drumming, and writing songs for a few decades, often collaborating with the finest artists from Zimbabwe. In 1994, after recording and touring with Babatunde Olatunji and the Afro-pop band, African Rain, Kelly studied ethnomusicology at the University of Zimbabwe.  She performed for such luminaries as Nelson Mandela and various African presidents, with both the University of Zimbabwe Choir and Mhembero Dance Company. 

From 1998-2001, she toured nationally and internationally with groups like Keith Terry and Crosspulse, Mutama, and Kotoja. Kelly started The KTO Project in 2004 and has recorded and released her debut recording Give it to the People, produced by Bay Area percussionist Kenneth Nash.

African-American singer, percussionist, and cultural historian Linda Tillery described Kelly and her music with the following words:
“Kelly Takunda Orphan has been on a long and wondrous journey, beginning with her Armenian roots to the percussion driven music of Zimbabwe, West Africa, and the Caribbean. Orphan’s music reveals a rare breed of musician who carefully fuses together the music from disparate cultures. Her vocals are warm and lush and the music will make you want to dance.”

The KTO Project’s music has also come full circle and has received support and attention in Zimbabwe. After recording Give it to the People, legendary Zimbabwean musician Oliver Mtukudzi used one of the tracks, “Kuda Kwaishe,” for a recording on a film he was producing. 

Currently Kelly has been working on the final touches of her new recording project, entitled Mafaro eZimbabwe, which is a homage to her Zimbabwean teachers and her life in Zimbabwe. The project was recorded in San Francisco, Colorado, Zimbabwe, and Kenya, and Kelly records with over 25 musicians from USA, Democratic Republic of Congo, and Zimbabwe. The recording project will debut in Fall 2021.