Luka Mukhavele, Live on Mbvoko

Luka Mukhavele, Live on Mbvoko

Luka Mukhavele  

Luka Mukhavele his a music artist and scholar from Mozambique. He holds a PhD in Musicology, Completed at the UNESCO Chair-Transcultural Music Studies,  University of Music Franz Liszt Weimar, Germany, with the topic "African Musical Instruments from a Contemporary Global Perspective: Mbira and Xizambi".

 Believe in "Instruments as the physical form of music", in parallel with his academic work, Luka founded the Mukhambira Project, in 2005 to research on indigenous/traditional musical instruments. From that time,

Luka formally  shifted his focus full-time to indigenous/local musical instruments. From 2008 to 2016, he lectured four below listed courses at the Escola de Comunicação e Artes, Universidade Eduardo Mondlane, in Maputo, Mozambique:

1. Acústica e Organologia

2. Análise Organológica de Instrumentos Musicais Tradicionais de Moçambique

3. Seminário Sobre Construção de Instrumentos Musicais Tradicionais

4. Seminário Sobre Investigação Musicológica

Pushing his scope further, concurrently his teaching, which demanded a lot of primary research served as an important catapult that launged him into his aforementiond PhD dissertation research and writing.

In 2020 and 2021 working under the topic "Scopes and Scientific Challenges of Global Music Research", Luka developed and  lectured the course "African Musicology: Maimba, Mbira, and Musical Bows in the Contemporary Global Context".   

Having experienced the progressive detriment and crashing of local musical praxis/cultures by the multinational gigantic music industries, and through  the irrational use of digital technologies in most relevant platforms, Mukhavele adopted systematic musicological research, exploring various music-related- disciplines in dealing with the most tangible aspect of music, the musical instruments. This approach, served to retireve lost concepts and/or develop ones, raising the awareness of the role and potentials of local musics/instruments as a human development  force. Likewise, the approach fostered the continuity and integration of local instruments and respective musicians in locally relevant and sustainable present-day contexts, such as academic institutions, festivals, "ethnic concerts", turistic resorts, etc.

Although he was always involved with music, only in 1991 did Luka make a full-time career shift from language teaching to a music researcher, managing the Ethnomusicology Department of ARPAC -the Cultural Heritage Archives of the Mozambican Ministry of Culture. In this position Luka travelled countywide documenting and collecting musical tangible and intangible heritage/artifact/icons to be preserved in the archives and used as didactic/resource materials and samples and further studies. In 1995-1996 Luka joined a General Certificate in Music course, jointly run by Zimbabwe College of Music and the University of Zimbabwe, towards an ethnomusicology oriented degree, and in 1997 he established his research field in Timbila Recording Studio, that he build in Harare, Zimbabwe.

In 2005, almost half-year after his return to Mozambique, Luka found himself in shortage of mbira, to carry on his musical activities, when one of his favorite mbira bought in Zimbabwe, from Mr. Kanga-Fry, a renowned Harare based mbira (maker?) Player got damaged. Not having a teacher or a consultant in the subject of mbira construction, Luka resorted to a Theory-Informed Experimental Research, seeking to understand the acoustical behaviour of metal lamellae, and the musicology behind the mbira, which immediately became the core of his research.

After the first successful experiment, he decided to found the Mukhambira Project, a central pillar in the contemporary mbira history of Mozambique. Mukhambira engaged in the construction, dissemination, teaching, and revival of lamellaphones in Maputo, which subsequently, spread throughout the country. It became the first such project, that developed its own methods, using and interfacing modern/conventional and indigenous technologies and knowledge systems in a creative and yet scientific manner, to come up with new/own models of mbira. It was, therefore, the first project that produced lamellaphones in a semi-industrialized setting, a method which has quickly created a new generation of mbira makers in Maputo, and probably, in the whole country, and thus, initiating the revival of the mbira.

However, Mukhambira did not stop on mbira. A number of other traditional/indigenous instruments have captured the interest and attention of Luka, in his Mukhambira project. Such cases are: xizambi, ximbvokombvoko, xitende, xipendani, xigoviya, marimba, flutes and an array of aerophones, which are still on his research lab, as witnessed on this site, his Youtube channel:,   his concerts, and lecdtures..

Eager to expand his knowledge pool, in 2008-2010 Luka enrolled for an MA in World Music Studies, at The University of Sheffield, defending with the topic Factors for Continuity and Changes in the Folk/Traditional Musics of Mozambique; and in 2015 he got admitted as a PhD student at the Hochschule für Musikwissenschaft Franz Liszt Weimar, in Weimar, whose writing he completed between from 2018 to 2021.

Luka uses his rebuilt and re-modeled instruments as new contribution to the body of artistic and scientific knowledge in the subject, that leverage the feeble musical cultures, mostly, in colonized societies and/or weaker economy countries. These instruments have become his musical identity both in academic and artistic forums, and, in these forums, as extensions of his research field, he examines  the applicability of the studied instruments; tests his hipotheses and validites his theories, in both old and new contexts.

As such, the instruments have been philosophically, physically, and stylistically, and in general, organologically re-conceived wherever necessary, and where applicable,  interfaced/fused with a variety of instrument concepts and technologies from different cultures. Current activities encompass comparative approaches, to further assess his research methods in different musical cultures/regions of the world, as a model for empowering local musical systems, but also, to artistically and scientifically approach the xchallenges of musicology.

Luka Mukhavele

PhD Musicology, Transcultural Music Studies -The University of Music Franz Liszt Weimar

MA World Music Studies -The University of Sheffield

1/2 BA Zimbabwe College of Music -University of Zimbabwe

Edito of course: "Living Heritage in Africa: Music and the Performing Arts", 

UNESCO Chair, Transcultural Music Studies

The Uniuversity of Music Franz Liszt Weimar

Director ofr Mukhambira Project


Online Profile/Website:

Mobile: 436766718019

Ivan Mukhavele with his new innovation!

Ivan Mukhavele with his new innovation!

Ivan Johane Mucavel

Mukhambira is also a cultural movement, fronting a Peaceful war, towards a cultural revolution, as expressed in the song Hondo (war) of Luka. As such, it gained a lot from the implacable and uncompromising, but highly committed Ivan Johan Mucavele, a front-liner of this project, who regardless of all up-and-down challenges remained a faithful fighter. It was Impossible to realize Mukhambira without Ivan.

Ivan is himself a Mukhambira, as Mukhambira is stored in his heart, and printed on his forehead!

Ivan Mucavel is a very engaged and perseverant musician, instrument builder, and music researcher from Mozambique. After many year of a renown career as a percussionist, he shifted his focus to mbira, for which today he stands as a main icon in Maputo, is not Mozambique. His passion for mbira gained its momentum when he had the opportunity to engage with the mbira types of the Shona people, whose history of origins and evolution always  interweaved Zimbabwe and Mozambique. This phase began when in the late 1990s he joined his uncle Luka Mukhavele an ethnomusicologist who had established his own recording studios “Timbila Recording Studios” in Harare  as a facility for music production and research. In these studios, Ivan got to meet and interact with different musicians from Zimbabwe, such as Andy Brown, Chiwoniso Maraira, Ephat Mujuru, Kanga Fry and others, all of whom had their music based on mbira. Apart from collaborating, Ivan took lessons from various mbira masters, who in turn got studio time.

In 2004, after his return to Maputo, Ivan became part of the inception of Mukhambira Musical, a project created and lead by Luka Mukhavele, aiming to reinvigorate traditional musical instruments. Inherently, this project laid the ground for Luka’s PhD thesis on the topic: Challenges and Potentials of Traditional Musical Instruments_Xizambi, Mbira, and Ximbvokombvoko in new contemporary context. Whereas he was the main research assistant of Luka in Mukhambira, Ivan became second to none in the process of disseminating the nyunganyunga mbira in Maputo and in Mozambique, in general: he offered courses of mbira construction and performance to prisoners in the jail of Nampula and various institutions; initiated and lead the foundation of Wakambira (the third biggest mbira/traditional musical instrument project after Mukhambira and Xitata), created in 2015, from where all the other young mbira players/builders of Maputo learned the trade; and he taught so many young people to build and to play the nyunganyunga.

Ivan was the first young Mozambican to appear in television playing mbira, in the 1990s. Today, Maputo is full of mbira players and builders, all of whom employ the techniques invented in Mukhambira by Luka and Ivan. However, Ivan did not end on the nyunganyunga. After the nyunganyunga was well established in Maputo, Ivan took on the mbira dzavadzimu, having developed his own version from a combination of the two types (mbira nyunganyunga and dzavadzimu), which he called Dzava-Nyungwe; and built nyunganyunga mbira that cover Low, mid, and high ranges, respectively, to be played together as a set. Today, Ivan is the most outstanding mbira builder/supplier in Maputo, working from the base of Mukhambira, in Marracuene, a small town about 30 kilometres to the north of Maputo City.

Ivan, in the name of Mukhambira, has hosted so many important figures of the culture sector in Mozambique. The highlight, though, was the visit of the Mozambican Minister of Culture, Eldevina Materula, with her technical staff, on the 1st of October 2020, who wanted to see, hear, exchange ideas, and discuss the strategies and aims of the Mukhambira project, to introduce mbira in schools as well as to disseminate it massively in society, and to donate means of production.

Name: Ivan Mucavel

Project: Mukhambira Musical

Posto Administrativo de Marracuene Bairro Massinga Mobile: 00258 84 2192478 E-mail:

Xakada -Antonio Simango

A veteran cultural activist, Xakada is part of the group of thimkers and fighters that tirelessly had brainstorming sessions and actions in crucial moments of the inception of ideas that later on resulted in the creation of Mukhambira, long before Mukhambira was born. He is the very one who , would do everything for  the future Mukhambira, and who, if it was to sink, he would sink with. We were just tween-brained brothers that discussed just everything and went  into the so much depth that Mukhambira was fetched.

As a "Roots" (a committed defender of traditiona and culture) a lucid thinker, and nerd,  he has made mbira his work tool, which he is proudly sharing through performance and teaching, starting with his own son, known as Sinangito. Until the last fews years, Simangito was  one of the very few children that played mbira at a high skill level in Maputo.