Ambuya Beauler Dyoko
The traditional mbira instrument of the Shona people of Zimbabwe is used during traditional ceremonies called Biras as a gateway to one’s ancestors for healing and guidance purposes. Traditionally, the mbira was only played by men, until strong women like Beauler Dyoko stood up and demanded women also deserved a rightful place in mbira circles.
Beauler Dyoko was born on November 23rd, 1944, in Zvimba, Zimbabwe. She is credited as being Zimbabwe's first female mbira recording artist. She was leader and featured singer with the popular contemporary mbira ensemble, The Black Souls, and was regularly invited to perform at the opening of the Zimbabwean Parliament. She also performed with Mhuri yekwa Rwizi for many years in Zimbabwe and toured throughout the world.
Dyoko was also a spirit medium and a herbalist. She was an active member of organisations promoting women musicians in Zimbabwe, and wrote songs to promote AIDS awareness and non-violence.
Ambuya Dyoko, as she was fondly known as, sadly passed away in June 2013, but she will always be remembered for her mbira songs which often touched on social issues, as well as her pioneering work that paved the way for women mbira players in Zimbabwe.