Also:       nyanga      

Title: demo: hwamanda. Format: DAT.

Contextual Associations

The hwamanda is a side-blown lip-reed aerophone from Zimbabwe. It is found throughout Zimbabwe and is used primarily as a signaling device. It is also used at dances, during healing sessions by n'angas (traditional healers), and as a warning during wartime. Berliner (The Soul of Mbira, p. 22) reports that it once was used in traditional Shona religious ceremonies, a practice adopted by some contemporary Shona independent Christian churches. A smaller version is common among the Tonga people where it is associated with funeral contexts. On the day of Zimbabwe's national independence, April 18th, 1980, a hwamanda was sounded in celebration. Similar instruments are found distributed widely throughout southern and eastern Africa. 


The hwamanda is a side-blown horn made from a kudu antler. The marrow is removed (through soaking) leaving only the exterior ‘skin’ of the antler. A hole in the wall of the antler is created through drilling or chiseling a few inches from the horn’s tip. This hole must be located near the top of the apex of the horn’s bore.

Player - Instrument Interface and Sound Production

The hwamanda is a lip-reed instrument. While holding the horn horizontally, the player covers the opening near its tip with his lips. By forcing an airstream through his tensed lips, the lips rapidly open and close (‘buzz’), allowing bursts of energy into the horn that set the air into vibration, producing a pitch.


The missionary João dos Santos, writing in 1586, described large animal horns being used as instruments called mharapara. In modern day Mozambique horns from the kudu are used as instruments called mbalapala lipala-panda or mpundu. The hwamanda is likely the Zimbabwean counterpart to these instruments and has remained largely unchanged since dos Santos described them.

Bibliographic Citations

Ellert. H. 1984. The Material Culture of Zimbabwe. Harare: Longman Zimbabwe.

Sayce, Katherine, ed. 1987. s.v. "Music, Traditional." Encyclopedia Zimbabwe. Harare: Quest Publishing.


Instrument Information


Continent: Africa

Region: East Africa

Nation: Zimbabwe

Formation: Shona

Classification (Sachs-Von Hornbostel revised by MIMO)

423.122.2 aerophone--side-blown curved natural labrosone

Design and Playing Features

Category: aerophone

Air cavity design: tubular - conical with open distal end

Source and direction of airstream: player exhalation through mouth into air cavity; unidirectional

Energy transducer that activates sound: lip reed (player’s lips) placed over hole in side of tube

Means of modifying shape and dimensions of standing wave in air cavity: none

Overblowing utilization: not used

Pitch production: single pitch - one pitch produced in single air cavity


23.4 in length

Primary Materials


Entry Author

Toby Austin, Roger Vetter