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Forward Kwenda was born 5 April 1963 in the rural Buhera area of Zimbabwe, an area known for its fierce resistance to colonial rulers and respect for Shona tradition. At the age of 10, he began to play ngoma (drums) and hosho (gourd rattles) for his mother’s gombwe (rain-making) spirit. He was given the name «Forward» because of his curiosity about many subjects, enthusiastic involvement in many activities and his singing for liberation war freedom fighters.

By 1985, Forward was playing in a unusually complex style - much to the amazement of master mbira players two and three generations his senior. This style was first recorded in 1985 and 1986 by his American friend Glenn Makuna, who dubbed Kwenda the Coltrane of mbira.»

Asked about his experience of playing mbira, Forward responds:

«When I pick up my mbira, I don’t know what is going to happen. The music just goes by itself, taking me higher and higher until I can end up crying because the music is so much greater than a human being can understand.» and «I just have to get out of the way so spirits can make my mbira play - it isn’t me - I’m just amazed.»

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