Born and raised in Zimbabwe, Peta met her late husband Olof, a Swedish music anthropologist and teacher of the Zimbabwean marimba (a traditional Shona musical instrument), while studying violin at the Academy of Music in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe. When Peta and Olof moved to Sweden with their daughter Ruth in 1985, their love of traditional Shona music kept Peta connected to her beloved homeland.
When Olof passed away, Peta was inspired to teach the marimba to music students in Sweden and created the Zimba Marimba band. She brought her students to Zimbabwe many times to study music and dance from talented local artists. The Zimba Marimba band performed at the world famous Harare International Festival of Arts (HIFA) in 2007 and were also invited to showcase their talents at cultural and social events across Sweden.
Even though Peta lived in Sweden, her warmth, love and joy for Zimbabwe was endless. She had great concern for her country's people, supporting many Zimbabwean families and helped them to come to Sweden.
"I long for Zimbabwe... the jacaranda trees, the smell of rain on the African soil" - Peta, 2018
The other great passion of Peta's life was Transcendental Meditation (TM). Peta learned TM in 1972 as student at Cape Town University. She went on to do her TM Teacher Training in the UK and returned to Zimbabwe to become the National TM Director. Peta donated the building that became the TM Centre in Harare where she held weekly courses as well as hosted international courses. In Sweden, Peta’s home was the Center for the TM community in Lund where she hosted celebrations, lectures and TM teachings. Over a span of 45 years, Peta attended advance TM courses in the United Kingdom, Denmark, Switzerland, the Netherlands, the United States and India.
Peta's passion for TM grew as she witnessed the experiences of peace, calm and happiness in her own life and in the lives of her students. She knew this was something that would empower Zimbabwean communities, especially women and girls. She knew of successful schools in Uganda, Thailand and Latin America where underprivileged girls are taught TM and educated and longed to create the same initiative in Zimbabwe. Although she initiated this work with Zimbabwe's TM Director, Kulani Nyoni in 2018, her illness required her to focus on her health and unfortunately she did not have the strength to carry out her desire before sadly passing away in September 2020.
Established by her loving daughter Ruth and dear friends, the Peta Axelsson Zimba Memorial Scholarship is her legacy. Click here to find out more about our program and how you can support Peta's dream!