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Riverboat Records

The Exorcism Of A Spinster

Hope Masike

TUGCD1122

Released 26 July 2019
Format

Hope Masike is a pioneering singer from Zimbabwe who plays the historically male-dominated mbira (thumb piano). The Exorcism Of A Spinster, her debut solo international release, sees Hope speak from the heart about the country that she loves and the changing roles of women.

Track List

01  Gomba    02:21
02  Idenga    03:43
03  Kune Mumwe    03:14
04  Ndoitasei    04:25
05  Wateme Tsanga (Interlude)    01:10
06  Dreams Of Dande    03:55
07  Zunde    03:35
08  Yenzera (Interlude)    01:03
09  The Exorcisim Of A Spinster – Muregere    03:39
10  Tonanaira        03:16
11  Mbira Yangu    04:25
12  Nditumei - The Calling    02:12

When I was young, my plan was to get married at age 26 and, like my parents, have nine children. When I reached 26, I didn't even have a boyfriend!

Many years later, there is an entire community worried for and about me. Some, from the cultural side, are sure there is a curse, a goblin perhaps, visited upon me by some evil deity. Others, from my Christian world, have said I surely must have a ‘spiritual husband’, blocking me from marriage to anyone. At my age, what other explanation could there be? An aunt says I am too independent …, and too vocal. A friend says I am too picky. My country is, in equal measure, extremely traditional and extremely Christian, with liberal sprinklings of other beliefs in between.

So, remedies range from traditional skin tattoos into which medicine is rubbed, to consulting traditional healers or church prophets to find out who is blocking marriage. In really ‘bad’ cases, exorcisms may be performed, and this can happen both in the Christian and the traditional rites. Aunts and other elderly relatives may fall prey to witch-hunts, fingered on suspicion they have goblins under their beds, goblins that don't want certain relatives’ children to get married.

 

Thankfully, my family has never taken me for any of these so-called cleansing ceremonies. But I have heard relatives speak behind my back, whispering that they think there is a curse in the family. See, I am not the only one. As we – today’s young African women – get more educated, as more attention is paid to human rights (women's rights), and as roles inevitably change with patriarchal stereotypes challenged, there just might be more exorcisms required than ever in human history!

This album doesn't seek to answer any questions; instead, it interrogates. I hope with this music we all learn more about each other and foster tolerance more than judgement. From songs like the opening track 'Gomba', that speaks to the preservation of my African heritage handed to us by our ancestors; to the title track, 'Exorcism Of A Spinster' which, very generally, narrates an exorcism done in Harare, the album represents a type of young African woman floating somewhere in between her dreams and the natural urge to fit in.

The difficulties of womanhood in my culture are dealt with in ‘Ndoitasei’ meaning ‘what shall we do’, whereby a woman cannot express her feelings about a boy whom she likes, as she will be looked down upon in society for being too forward. In the end the song advises that if you remain shy, you seldom get what you want.

As a woman, the fact that I play the historically male-dominated mbira, is very unusual, and I celebrate this on ‘Mbira Yangu’ where I describe the beautiful instrument and narrate the story of how some people used to laugh at me, shunning the traditional instrument, but look at me now!

This is also an album laced with longing and hope on tracks such as ‘Dreams Of Dande’ translated as ‘dreams of a better place’ in which I pray to god and ask that he looks after all that is mine, to light my path so that I can get home, a place of comfort, Dande. The yearning and optimism for better times continues with ‘Tonanaira’ where the ancestors are calling us to revolt against unjust leadership. They will lead us to the promised land, the emancipated, peaceful Africa.

As an artist and product of the society I grew up in, I wanted - through this collection - to create music that makes us think. If not that, however, simply enjoy the music!