Bulemu Mutale reports on women Jatropha soap producers during the pandemic


Social impacts of the pandemic
for women in rural Zimbabwe

An English translation of a German article published in FUgE News 01/22

Hi. I am Bulemu Mutale; born in Binga, a small town, in northern Zimbabwe. Until January 2019, I lived there with my father and brothers, working in a wholesale shop and, when there was time, helping at the women’s organisation Zubo Trust. This volunteer work brings me 2019 to Germany as participant in a South-North volunteering programme at Welthaus Bielefeld and the first ever participant from Zimbabwe. Today, I can speak German and am training as a nurse.

I have not been back since. I am often homesick, honestly. Of course, we are in contact, with my family and with the Zubo women. It is something close to my heart to tell you now how things have been going for Zubo Trust, even under lockdown conditions. And since our Jatropha soap is sold in Germany, I’d also would like to tell you about the women who produce your soap and how they’ve been coping during the pandemic.

Zubo’s mission is all about economic participation of the rural women and about representing their rights. Very often this is done in self-organised, collective work. “Zubo brings women together for self-empowerment” is the motto of the organisation. In soap production, for example, two teams of six women each take turns; from mixing the oil to packaging, they do everything in teamwork. For this, the women leave their villages and families for three weeks. Yes, it works! Because with Zubo’s mediation, the husbands and the village communities are backing it.

Lockdown makes life difficult for the women. This is actually true for everyone, everywhere in the country. The majority of the population in Zimbabwe lives from informal trade. Curfews mean goods cannot be delivered to customers, no income! and hunger! In the lockdown, only one of the women who lives nearby comes to the soap manufactory and works alone with the production manager. The trade fair in the capital had been postponed for a month anyway because of high infection rates in the cold season. Zubo takes care of the marketing and shipping of the handmade soap.

Fear of the unknown virus is high. Security forces in the streets are another factor. At the beginning of the pandemic, life stood still. No one knew what to do. The terrible perplexity lasts for two to three months until enlightening information reaches Binga. The Zubo office team cannot get together, tries to keep up the work in home office. Everything moves very slowly. When the lockdown is eased, the Zubo team is able to build valuable bridges into the remote communities and, in partnership with the Ministry of Health, helps bring up-to-date information and much-needed basic medical supplies to these communities.

When the soap cannot be shipped to Germany as planned, partners such as Welthaus Bielefeld succeed in redirecting funding so that the soap can now be distributed as donations to Zubo’s home communities, thus supporting hygiene conditions locally.

The loss of income in the lockdown has meant that the women have literally eaten up all their capital since the beginning of the pandemic, including seeds for the next season. There are hardly any reserves left; the population is dependent on food handouts from the government. How can Zubo’s work continue in this situation? – that is the organisation’s biggest concern.

At the beginning of the year, it’s been possible again for soap being delivered to Germany. You can now buy the unscented, natural soap in fair-trade shops like the FUgE Weltladen and in the shop at Welthaus Bielefeld.

Thank you for listening to me. I look forward to you reading our detailed report about the impact of the pandemic on Zubo’s women here (in English translation) or, the original German article in “Graswurzel Revolution”, GWR465

Bulemu Mutale


We would like to call for support for Zubo Trust in the pandemic

We are collecting on the following account of the Baobab Verein in Kassel; keyword: “Zubo”. Donation receipts will be sent for donations of 20 Euro or more. Please indicate your address and email on the transfer form. IBAN: DE67 4306 0967 4103 8566 00; BIC: GENODEM1GLS; GLS Bank; https://www.baobab-ev.org/de-de/


Zubo Trust https://www.zubowomen.org/



Bulemu Mutale – updates from a South-North Volunteer



We are sitting in the still a little too cold grass right at the local river Lippe. Bulemu Mutale came from rural Zambezi Valley, Zimbabwe to Germany with a South-North volunteering programme almost two-and-a-half years back. Surrounded by the voices of spring bird and frog song, we are journeying together with Bulemu through her life experiences in Germany and back home…[listen at aporee radio sound map…)))



We recorded this interview with Bulemu at the end of May 2021. By the time, Bulemu had completed the 18 months of the South-North Volunteer Programme at Welthaus Bielefeld and was well into her training as a nurse. She had lived with two different German guest families, worked regularly in a kita, learnt the German language and spent time in workshops with 15 other volunteers from the global South; and after all, had applied successfully for a place to train as a nurse in Germany.

In the interview, she wisely points out to us that by now, she’s likely to no longer spot certain differences that earlier would have surely raised her attention.

“If you’d have asked me that question a year ago…!!”

In her refections on her life in another language, in another culture and in-between new and old experiences, Bulemu allows us to travel with her back and forth and reflect on common social settings and human interactions in Germany.



This is the second interview we recorded with Bulemu. An earlier interview, we recorded in Binga Zimbabwe, in November 2018, about two months before Bulemu left her community and her country and came to Germany.


Bulemu was chosen to participate in the South-North Volunteering Programme at Welthaus Bielefeld Germany because of her commitment in her home community Binga where she volunteered working with children in an orphanage and with the women empowerment organisation Zubo Trust.



Zubo Trust is a women’s organization working with the rural women of the Zambezi valley in Zimbabwe since 2009. Zubo Trust has accomplished well-recognized work in organizing the rural women, establishing producer collectives, securing women’s lively-hoods, and boosting their independence and self-esteem. One of Zubo’s pioneering initiatives is an all-women fishery project. Further projects include organic agriculture, developing cosmetic products and, the local crafts, especially basket weaving.


Women in-between cultures speak up


The present interviews with migrant and refugees women, mostly conduced in German, were realised in cooperation with FUgE e.V. and as part of the project “Intercultural Hammer Interviews”. Please find the German version of this article here, at FUgE website.

The so-called “migration background” literally has its say in these interviews and tells Her story and about Her experiences in Germany.

We invited four women in Hamm to tell us about their experiences when they, often quite suddenly in the course of their life, found themselves as immigrants in Germany:

What are their experiences in the German society, and locally in Hamm? Do they feel comfortable, accepted, respected? How do they experience access to social support, to the labour market, to social and political participation? What progress or setbacks in this regard can they tell us about? Do they miss something?

The women talk about their history of flight and migration, and about the differences they encounter and encountered between the old and the new home – in this case Hamm. Thus, listeners can consider these differences together with narrators and discover commonalities among cultures and social contexts. Alongside the stories and reflections, the audience also encounters global contexts of inequalities, poverty and exclusion – not least in gender relations, here and there.

With the series of interviews, the women narrators would like to spark some curiosity and encourage fellow citizens to explore the huge diversity of life experiences and knowledge here and now, locally, and in personal conversations with newcomers.

No doubt, we will also encounter social inequality and barriers to participation in our society and look at them now, thanks to the women narrators, from a different perspective. This is to say, here is an opportunity to reduce such inequalities in a targeted way; not least, since listening to the women, we join in the discovery in each of these testimonies: we are probably all at home in more than one culture.

Maryam* from Afghanistan

“Germany is my home country. There are so many opportunities for me here; opportunities for the women …!” this is how Maryam begins her story. The 31-year-old from Afghanistan came to Germany in 2015 with her extended family, 16 people in total; first they got accommodation in Wesel, then in Hamm. Maryam comes from a village near Urozgan in the remote mountainous region between Kabul and Kandahar. In her descriptions, she takes us into rural life in Afghanistan; the dangers and restrictions in the remote mountainous country. Above all, she gives us insights into the lives of women and girls, and describes her own life as a young woman growing up among the extended family on her grandfather’s farm (…) Read more


Felicitas from the Philippines

“I have two mothers…” and, “the women are so strong…” are two quotes from Felicitas’ account that can hint at something of the important role that women have played in her life. The 52-year-old, experienced nurse comes from Laoag City, the capital of the district of Ilocos Norte, in the north of the island nation of the Philippines. At the age of 24, she married, came to Germany and directly to Hamm. Felicitas grows up as the seventh of nine siblings; the next older brother is her constant companion; the two oldest sisters take up the role of mothers, because her mother works most of the day at the local market selling fish. The father goes fishing and prepares food for the family; the rest of the day, he works in the construction industry (…) Read more


Sara from Iran

“In Germany I have many mothers and many fathers,” says Sara in telling her life’s story. The 50-year-old from Iran came to Germany in 2015 with her two sons, aged sixteen and thirteen. First, they stay in a camp in Hamm-Heessen; then, they live in Versmold for a few years; the father joins them; and recently, they come back to live in Hamm. Sara comes from the industrial city of Ahwaz in the south of the country, not far from the Persian Gulf and the border with Iraq. Like the majority of the population in the city, Sara speaks Arabic and Persian (…) Read more


Mary from Kenya

“In our culture, the little ones have to listen to the older ones,” Mary tells us in the interview. The 45-year-old woman from Kenya is very attentive to cultural expressions and their differences. And so she consciously becomes a bridge for others in the Afro-German diaspora in Hamm. Mary grew up in a large family in the port city of Malindi, at the Indian Ocean, about 120 km north of Mombasa. However, she was born in a village called Kirinyaga, not far from Mount Kenya. Mary is one of the younger of 16 siblings. The family works in subsistence farming, but is also organised in a coffee cooperative. This helps to improve the income; children can go to school and medical care is secured. Before school, each child works for an hour in the coffee plantation (…) Read more

An interview with Mary in English is here

*Some Names of protagonists are anonymised

An intercultural project by FUgE e.V. with radio continental drift

Realised with support of the Municipal Integration Centre Hamm as part of the KOMM-AN funding programme of the state of NRW for the funding year 2021.

With the kind support of the “Promotor*innen-Programm für interkulturelle Öffnung im Regierungsbezirk Arnsberg” and on behalf of the government of NRW.

Celebrating Women’s Radio Co-Productions & Free Radios


The Women sing at both sides of…

The past year 2021 has been a particularly radio-productive one – also for us. In the day to day of projects and productions it can become hard to appreciate in depth and in public the amazing treasures of audio and radio work that were produced with and by everyone involved at a time. World Radio Day may be a moment to do so at last !

You, dear co-producers and radio-sisters stand out of a crowd !

You dared and dare speaking up for yourself, for those and for what you care for and take a stand. Wherever you position yourself at this, or that side of what “mainstream”, you’ve made a difference which will stand out to encourage those coming tomorrow.

Keep that fire burning !



celebrating Radio Co-Productions with Women

& Free Radios


Building Radio Bridges – broadcast of a project of audio letters in voice mails during the first 2020 lockdown between women of Zubo Trust Zimbabwe and Zongwe FM Zambia with anthropology students in NYC


radioart106 – broadcast contribution in #137 (International Women’s Day) and #141 (Female:Pressure) to Meira Asher’s courages stream of radio art



Mom’s Mic Story – a story of audio self-empowerment by a group of migrant mom’s in the Ruhr Valley of Germany.


Wacuka – a story in remix of caring and of mutual empowerment and of life near to the soil by a Kenyan woman in Germany.



She’buntu Audio Kollektiv – stories of daily life and of empowerment in sisterhood by African women in Germany aka Afro-Sisterhood Club.


Stimmen der Schweigen Universität / Voices of the Silent University women talk in their own texts about escape from war and conflict, home, self-discovery and empowerment in the group.


public reading Ringlokschuppen July2021


Female Positions / Positionen von Frauen – story of a publication and the project of its becoming among a group of women authors



*** celebrating Free Radios ***


Wave Farm/ WGXC fm ** radioart106 ** colourfulvoices.net  **

WW/ Wueste Welle ** RDL via freie-radios.net **

Radio F.R.E.I. ** FR Freudenstadt **

She’buntu Audio Kollektiv auch via Radio Nordpol  **

Fair_Play ** Radio Nordpol **

Radio FRO ** CBA


**  radio continental drift joins World Radio Day 2022  **

Zubo Trust’s soap project in the pandemic


Social impacts of the pandemic

for women in rural Zimbabwe


An English translation of the German article in January’s “Graswurzel Revolution”, GWR465

20.12.2021, by Bulemu Mutale and Claudia Wegener

Photo: Zubo Trust

Zubo Trust is a women’s collective and organisation in Zimbabwe that produces, among other things, handmade soap, also under current pandemic conditions. How did the lives of the women change due to lockdown and “safety distance”? What are the implications for the Zubo women’s collective work and cooperatively run soap manufacture? For their article in the German monthly “Graswurzel Revolution”, Bulemu Mutale and Claudia Wegener gather current information about the project and illustrate the situation on the ground. (GWR ed.)

When we start talking to Matron Muleya about the plans for this article in October 2021, we find her in the workshop, as ever so often; at once, she sends us a photograph of the work at hand. Matron is in charge of the Jatropha soap project, and the colleague in the picture, Engeline, is the wonderfully experienced production manager of the manufactory. The two women are part of the team at Zubo Trust, a non-governmental organisation (NGO) in the small town of Binga in northern Zimbabwe. (1) They are currently packing pieces of soap for the upcoming agricultural fair in the capital Harare. High infection rates in the country had postponed the date by a month to the end of October. But now the situation has eased and Zubo will participate in the fair to represent the women’s products, handmade soap and baskets, as well as fresh tamarind from Binga. Before the pandemic, we knew of two teams of six women who were employed and paid in the soap production for three weeks at a time. At this moment, we find Matron and Engeline alone at work. Are hygiene regulations a reason? (2)

The remote rural areas of the Zambezi Valley bordering Zambia are home to the indigenous BaTonga people, a marginalised ethnic minority in Zimbabwe. A group of committed, well-educated women from the valley founded the NGO twelve years ago to improve the lives of local women and represent their rights; and to do so proactively and systematically. In Zubo’s longtime experience, it is the women’s economic participation which is a key to social change; and it is this empowerment – that is to say, self-discovery in a collective work, which is a prerequisite for the gradual social and political integration of women into the local public life. Zubo’s work therefore always centres around this social space for the mutual empowerment of women. (3)

Covid-19 in Zimbabwe and the Zambezi Valley

Currently, there’s less complaint about Corona than about the heat in the Zambezi Valley. Temperatures are around 42 degrees during the day and, depending on the wind, cool down only late and very slowly. The valley is notorious for its high temperatures. The number of infections in the country appears rather less urgent than the climate. The World Health Organisation (WHO) currently reports 136,379 confirmed cases and 4,707 deaths for Covid-19 in Zimbabwe (as of 5 December 2021). As we begin this article, at the end of October, daily new infections are mostly between 1 and 30; but from the beginning of December, a jump to over 1,000 is recorded. However, at the height of the cold season, in July and August 2021, daily new infections were at over 4,000. This was the third and so far the strongest wave in the country. (4)

We ask about Covid cases among the more than 700 women in the villages that Zubo works with. No one in the Zubo team knows of anyone with the disease – that is the initial information. Could this mean a “Letʼs not talk about it”? We then learn more: two staff members were infected and hospitalized during the third wave. In the meantime, some of the office staff have been vaccinated.

According to one assumption from the team: a majority of those who fall ill, especially in rural areas, will probably quietly go into self-quarantine and treat the symptoms with common household remedies like those used for flu and colds.

Apart from the probable lack of testing facilities in Binga district, infection rates are likely to be slowed down by the widely scattered settlements in the Zambezi Valley; and due to the fact that daily life of the women takes place outside, in the field, in the garden, under a tree, in the yard. The following information Matron gives us can further complement our understanding of the situation on the ground: No comprehensive evidence is at hand as yet, but some reports had been received from women who complain that nurses in the field and at the health wards are dismissive of patients seeking help; on the other hand, fear and ignorance have also prevented women from seeking medical help where it would have been necessary. (5) The reports from the Zubo team can shed some light on the question what it may mean for people on the ground where statisticians talk about so-called “dark figures” – in German: “Dunkelziffer” – with regards to the number of infections in some African countries.

We hear from the team about the deep shock and fear at the beginning of the pandemic and during the first lockdown: everything was at a standstill, everyone stayed home, no one knew what to do, neither among the NGOs nor the community leadership. The terrible state of perplexity lasted for two or three months until some official enlightening information reached Binga. The Zubo team is trying to continue their joint work in home office as far as that is possible; only from about mid-May 2020, there are again some sporadic face-to-face contacts among the staff; the fear of the unknown virus is great; security forces in the streets are another factor. The military was and is present – even in remote Binga – to ensure compliance with Covid-19 and lockdown regulations. (6) In addition to the obligatory wearing of face masks and keeping social distance, there is still mentioning of a curfew between 10 p.m. and 5.30 a.m., at least according to relevant government and embassy websites, also, a 50-per-cent reduction in the number of employees in offices or businesses premisses, with working hours from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the most; restaurants are only allowed to offer take-aways; pubs and nightclubs must remain closed, and gatherings of more than 100 participants are prohibited.

Here just to briefly outline the social implications of a strict lockdown guaranteed by security forces: In Zimbabwe, the majority of the population lives from the so-called informal trade. Curfews mean: no income and thus, hunger! The ongoing hyperinflation in the country has also forced nurses and teachers to rely on informal trade for vital additional income.

At the end of October and in November 2021, the situation eased somewhat as the number of infections declined at the end of the cold season. Yet, it is still considered wise to keep a low profile and at least wear your mask in the pocket, otherwise you could be fined. In the strict lockdown, citizens could only pass the roadblocks with an official letter stating precisely the certain important errands that you needed to run. At the end of November, however, Zubo was even able to accept an invitation from ZimTrade to participate in the Intra-African Trade Fair 2021 in Durban and present the women’s products such as baskets and soaps in South Africa.

Photo: Zubo Trust

Zubo helps to overcome the information deficit on the ground

In the communities that Zubo works with, three quarters of households are without information provision through internet or public media. Over the years, Zubo has built up its own organisational communication infrastructure, at least in the six wards where the NGO is active. Among other provisions, there are six women forums of 25 members each representing different village communities. That is how, the work on the ground has been accompanied and promoted for years, problems are uncovered and discussed, and further training is provided. As Bulemu hears in conversation with the management, Zubo has recently been able to develop new groundbreaking partnerships. During the exceptional situation of the pandemic, a cooperation developed with the local office of the Ministry of Health and Child Care. With the help of Zubo’s structured access to the rural communities, up-to-date information as well as urgently needed basic medical equipment could be supplied effectively even to the remote communities.

The Zubo team is also directly involved in the educational information work of the health professionals in the communities; information videos are produced and a WhatsApp group has been set up for Corona information exchange – information tools, however, that, as mentioned, can only reach a small part of the population in the rural areas; further parts of the population are reached in village meetings convened by Zubo. The organisation underlines this work with the Ministry of Health among the positive developments even in the pandemic; Zubo’s work had been able to expand in cooperation with new partners and thus reach new and wider circles in the communities.

Photo & following: radio continental drift

Consequences of the lockdown

The impact of lockdowns and periodic, prolonged restrictions on movement and transport have led to setbacks in Zubo’s work that will have to be dealt with for a long time to come. The extent and further social consequences, for example, an increase in domestic violence and early pregnancies, can currently only be guessed at in the ongoing emergency situation. In the first lockdown, as Matron tells us, three of the six wards in which Zubo operates were no longer accessible by the already sporadic public transport. Contact, communication and assistance became extremely difficult or impossible. In some of these communities, access to drinking water involves such long transport routes that women use public transport to get there; in the lockdown, this situation became even more untenable. We ask about the “good rains” that were reported last season. We learn that, yes, rain had been there, and good for the lake, the fish and the fishery; but as far as the water supply to the families in Binga district through the women was concerned, the “good rains” would make little difference to the women who are traditionally fetching the water; possibly, it would postpone the time when distances to drinking water are usually becoming longer and longer by a month or so. Matron explicitly refers to a dangerous and disenfranchising situation for the women.

All the women Zubo works with – whether fisherwomen, basket weavers or soap producers – earn their small incomes through trade. Transport restrictions interrupt or slow down the procurement or collection of raw materials as well as the marketing and delivery of goods. After the complete standstill at the beginning of the pandemic in 2020, the groups of basket weavers can currently at least get together again where they live and work together more or less as usual. The two times six production assistants in Zubo’s soap manufactory come from the aforementioned six wards; some have long, complicated journeys to Binga Centre and thus to Zubo’s location. In strict lockdown, soap production falls flat or continues at a much slower pace, with perhaps only one of the assistants who is lives nearby. In this case, the inventive production manager Engeline will make use of the empty workshop for new experiments, as Matron tells us; thus, artificial and natural dyes are tried out or different herbal additives are tested in the soaps.

The extent of impoverishment as a result of the pandemic and lockdowns may be illustrated by the following development: The capital investment of rural women is livestock; this has been promoted by Zubo for years with the establishment of micro-credit groups among the women. The loss of income in the lockdown has meant that since the beginning of the pandemic, the women have now literally eaten up all their capital, including seeds for the next season, for example. There are hardly any reserves left; the population is largely dependent on food subsidies from the government. How can Zubo’s work continue in this situation? – this is the organisation’s biggest concern.


Rays of hope and international cooperation

In cooperation with international partners such as Welthaus Bielefeld and “All We Can” in the UK, funding could be reallocated at short notice from May 2020 to support Zubo in providing more effective aid on the ground in this exceptional situation. Soaps that could not be exported to Germany at the time could now be distributed as donations to the communities in Zubo’s area of activities and support hygiene conditions right here on site which was now more important than ever. At Zubo’s request and suggestion, money was also used to buy salt and distribute it to the communities with the information that they could improve self-protection in their families even by increased oral hygiene, or gargling with salty water.

It is a courageous struggle for survival – not least, of the organisation itself – that is picked up again every day by the Zubo women. In view of the dwindling purchasing power locally and in the country at large, Zubo’s soap project will be in need of some large production orders from abroad in order to overcome the current deep crisis and to continue the valuable work on the ground by its own means and efforts.

Despite all the difficulties, an unusual form of creative, cross-continental cooperation can still be reported, and indeed even from the difficult time of the first lockdown in 2020: Zubo’s considerable documentary online sound archive enabled the start of a correspondence in WhatsApp voicemails between the Zubo women in Binga Zimbabwe, young radio producers in Sinazongwe Zambia, on the opposite side of Lake Kariba and anthropology students in New York City. This co-production in Voicemails is also documented online; and excerpts were broadcast internationally as a radio programme. (7)

A Call for Donations

The authors would like to appeal for support for Zubo Trust in the pandemic. Donations are being collected on the account of the Baobab e.V. Association in Kassel; keyword: “Zubo”; donation receipts will be issued and sent as from 20 Euro; please supply your mailing or email address on the transfer form; IBAN: DE67 4306 0967 4103 8566 00; BIC: GENO DEM 1GLS; GLS Bank; https://www.baobab-ev.org/de-de/



Download this article (English)

(1) Zubo’s soap project is supported by Welthaus Bielefeld; a report on the situation under Corona was published in June 2020: Welthaus_Info_19_2020, page 5; https://www.welthaus.de/auslandsprojekte/zimbabwe/income-for-women-in-binga/ .

(2) On the impact of Corona on Zubos projects, there is a blog post from January 2021: https://diasporanarratives.com/2021/01/12/a-retrospect-on-covid-19-and-its-impact-on-the-women-of-zubo-trust/ .

(3) The name of the organisation, “Zubo”, is programmatic: it goes back to the indigenous word for a basket made of branches for fishing. The BaTonga women at the Zambezi use the “Zubo” to fish; this is only possible collectively. A year ago, in GWR 454, we reported on Zubo’s women’s collective “Bindawuko Bbanakazi”, the first women-owned fishing cooperative on Lake Kariba.

(4) cf. World Health Organisation WHO: https://covid19.who.int/region/afro/country/zw When comparing with infection rates in Germany, it should be borne in mind that in terms of population figures, Germany ranks at place 19, globally, while Zimbabwe at place 73, with 14,829,688 inhabitants. Of the population, 38% in Zimbabwe live in urban areas; and in Germany 77%. While the average age of the population is 46 in Germany and 18 in Zimbabwe.

(5) The catastrophic lack of protective clothing and basic medical equipment at the beginning of the pandemic 2020, as well as the resulting nationwide strikes by doctors and nurses, may also have been a reason for the dismissive behaviour of the nursing staff. See e.g. DLF report from the time of the first lockdown, June/August 2020: https://www.deutschlandfunk.de/repressionen-in-simbabwe-krise-korruption-und-corona-100.html

(6) There are fines and arrests. See i.a. the mentioned DLF report (5). As noteworthy, we would here also like to mention the daily “Zimbabwe Lockdown Report” of the Women ́s Coalition of Zimbabwe (WCOZ), which keeps a record of now more than 600 days of the situation under Covid-protection orders for the people on the ground; and the observance or non-observance of human and civil rights. See the WCOZ website, and the “civil society information hub” Kubatana,  .

(7) On the co-production “Building Radio Bridges – Audio Letters between Lockdown NYC and the Zambezi Valley”, see https://radiocontinentaldrift.wordpress.com/2020/08/02/buildingradiobridges-distance-co-production/ ; radio broadcast ; Zubo Audio Archive

Further information about Zubo Trust:

Zubo’s website https://www.zubowomen.org/




About the authors:

Bulemu Mutale was born in Binga, Zimbabwe, and lived there until the beginning of 2019. She volunteered there for the women’s organisation Zubo Trust, came to Welthaus Bielefeld as the first South-North volunteer from Zimbabwe and is currently training as a nurse.

Claudia Wegener was born in Hamm, Westphalia, and as a radio activist has regularly been involved in local projects in Southern Africa since 2005, including with Zubo Trust in Binga. Under “radio continental drift”, audio recordings and productions are archived online for free download under Creative Commons licence.


The authors wish to thank the editorial of the “Graswurzel Revolution”; they have been amazingly supportive throughout. Twalumba loko. Many thanks.

On-Air: Voices of the Silent University – Auf Sendung: Stimmen der Schweigenden Universität


Interkulturelles Frauen Empowerment Netzwerk der Silent University Ruhr; Vier.zentrale Mülheim a.d.R.; copyright: storkfoto


(English text below)

Die Frauen des Empowerment Netzwerks der Silent University Ruhr laden ganz herzlich zur ihrer ersten Radiosendung ein. Die Sendung dokumentiert und feiert die Arbeiten der Frauen im Autobiographie Projekt der Gruppe.

We are delighted to invite you to this special PREMIER Radio show ! The show documents and celebrates autobiographical texts and recordings by the women of the Intercultural Empowerment Network, Silent University Ruhr.

  1. Erstsendung: Sonntag 31. Oktober 2021 19:00 Uhr auf Radio Mülheim UKW 92.9 MHZ und online
  2. Radio Nordpol in Dortmund und online
  3. Freies Radio Wüste Welle Tübingen und online, Donnerstag, 18. November 14:00 Uhr //  Samstag, 27. November 15:00 Uhr  //  Freitag, 10. Dezember 19:00 Uhr




In der Sendung „Stimmen der Schweigen Universität“ erzählen Frauen in eigenen Texten von Flucht, Heimat, Selbstfindung und Stärkung in der Gruppe. Die autobiographischen Texte und Aufnahmen entstanden in Workshops mit Mitgliedern des Interkulturellen Frauen Empowerment Netzwerks der Silent University Ruhr in Mülheim und als Teil ihres Projekts „The Story of our Lives Forum“. Die erste Workshop-Reihe 2020 war eine kreative Schreibwerkstatt in Richtung autobiographische Episoden; die fortführenden Workshops in 2021 bezogen hands-on Audiotechnik, Stimme und gesprochene Sprache in das autobiographische Erzählen und Schreiben mit ein. Im Juli fand eine erste öffentliche Lesung der Autorinnen im Ringlokschuppen statt. Die Aufnahmen in der Sendung entstammen den unterschiedlichen Situationen. Die Silent University ist eine international vertretene Plattform, die es sich zur Aufgabe gemacht hat, „zum Schweigen gebrachtes Wissen hörbar werden zu lassen. Die Sendung erzählt auf Deutsch bzw. in deutscher Synchronisation. Musik: Crystal DJ Kwe Favel

Die Silent University ist eine international vertretene, autonome Plattform für den Wissensaustausch von und mit AkademikerInnen, die ihre Kenntnisse in Europa nicht als Lehrende weitergeben können – sei es wegen ihres Aufenthaltsstatus oder der Nicht-Anerkennung von Abschlüssen. Zum Schweigen gebrachtes Wissen soll hörbar werden…!

Das Interkulturelle Frauen Empowerment Netzwerk ist Teil der Silent University Ruhr. Es geht darum, Frauen mit Flucht- und Migartionserfahrung zu ermutigen, mit ihren eigenen akademischen Qualifikationen und sonstigen Kompetenzen in die Öffentlichkeit zu treten und ihre Karrierewünsche trotz bestehender gesellschaftlicher und kultureller Hindernisse zu verfolgen.


In the radio show “Voices of the Silent University” women tell in their own texts about escape from war and conflict, home, self-discovery and empowerment in the group. The autobiographical texts and recordings were created in workshops with members of the Intercultural Women’s Empowerment Network of Silent University Ruhr in Mülheim and as part of their project “The Story of our Lives Forum”. The first workshop series in 2020 was a creative writing workshop towards autobiographical episodes; the continuing workshops in 2021 involved hands-on audio technology, voice and spoken language in to the autobiographical storytelling and writing. In July, a first public reading of the authors took place in the Ringlokschuppen. The recordings in the programme are taken from the various situations. The Silent University is an internationally represented platform that has set itself the task of making silenced knowledge audible. The programme is narrated in German or with German dubbing. Music: Crystal DJKwe Favel

The Silent University is an internationally represented, autonomous platform for the exchange of knowledge by and with academics who cannot pass on their knowledge as teachers in Europe – be it because of their residence status or the non-recognition of degrees. Silenced knowledge should become audible…!

The Intercultural Women Empowerment Network is part of the Silent University Ruhr. It is about encouraging women with refugee and migration experience to come out in public with their academic qualifications and other competences and to pursue their career aspirations despite existing social and cultural barriers.


Lesung/ Public Reading – Drehscheibe/ Ringlokschuppen July 2021



Autorinnen: Bridget Fonkeu, Claire Hofmann, Diana Zaza, Maha Zeidan Alshaka, Mariam Muhammad Al-Ali, Nada Mahmoud, Lolita Agatep-Foy, Safeiah Ahmad, Soltana Baku, Sediqi

Übersetzungen Arabisch/Deutsch: Maha Zeidan, Nadia Nassani, Mohammad Ahmad, Mohammad Rehawi,

Übersetzungen Englisch/Deutsch: Margarethe Lavier, Sigrun Rottmann, Claudia Wegener

Workshops, Konzept und Leitung: Margarethe Lavier, Sigrun Rottmann, Claudia Wegener

Technische Realisation Audio/Radio: Claudia Wegener/ Radio Continental Drift

Technik Event & Studio: Ringlokschuppen Mülheim an der Ruhr

Projektleitung: Bridget Fonkeu/Silent University Ruhr, Andrea Friedrich/ Ringlokschuppen


INCLUSIVES : care and empowerment resonate




“Wacuka” in Maryann’s mothertongue kikuyu, means the one who is well taken care of and, the one who is taking care, the carer…

In other words, care ought to be INCLUSIVE of a mutual empowerment in order to be at its own best, well rooted, “near to the soil”, like a home-coming… these at least are the resonances of the story which Maryann shares with us in her interview.

It’s only quite recently that Maryann relocated from town to the Germany countryside. A good moment to reflect together with her on the journey from her native Kenya to Germany, and up to her present life and work… “Who i am goes well with my name…” Maryann explains as if in summarizing her life.

Maryann Gorschlüter has worked with refugees in a camp run by Malteser for a number of years now. In her descriptions, observations and reflections, she takes us on a journey in between different perspectives. Having walked the difficulties of migration and integration herself, she now can assist new-comers with her experience and her empathy; and she does so jointly with, and from within the local Black community.

Her new life in the German countryside provides Maryann with yet deeper images and means of reflection on her experiences. We recorded the interview in Maryann’s new home in rural Hoetmar.



radio continental drift is grateful to the Fair_Play Network and Tsuku Boshi for the chance and occasion to highlight Maryann’s inspiring story by a remix contribution to the album INCLUSIVES – a participatory album using the sounds of four artists.

We warmly acknowledge the work of Carol Robinson: it’s been a joy witnessing in remix the encounter of Maryann’s voice and story with Carol’s music (track 10).



Fair_Play is a network dedicated to promoting the visibility/audibility of women (cis/trans/non-binary) in the fields of sound creation, experimental, alternative, electroacoustic music and related arts and techniques. Within this scope, Fair_play strives to include socio-cultural minorities ignored by the dominant systems.



SHE’BUNTU Audio Kollektiv: empowerment in Afro-Sisterhood


SHE’BUNTU Audio Kollektiv.

The project was born from the concept of ubuntu and women empowerment. In African cultures, ubuntu means to be a part of a larger whole, “I am because you are”. In the centre of the project are women who share their stories to learn from each other and encourage other women. Thus, SHE’BUNTU. Oral History of and by African women in Germany inspired by discovering their common experiences between Migration, Integration and inter-cultural identities. SHE’BUNTU, that’s what we want to practice and speak, loud and programmatic in audio research and podcast / radio outputs. Yes, She is, She can! SHE’BUNTU!

radio continental drift proudly supports Afro-Sisterhood in the journey of audio self- empowerment.

Afro-Sisterhood Audio Archive

SHE’BUNTU podcast on Anchor

SHE’BUNTU podcast is broadcast by Radio Nordpol.

Interview with Afro-Sisterhood on Apex 1 Radio



Afro-Sisterhood is an initiative of women with African roots aged between 20 and 55 with a large active membership in the Ruhr-area of Germany. We are mothers, engineers, IT-consultants, doctor students, social workers, teachers, and students. In the spirit of Ubuntu, or better She’buntu, we empower each other.

You are warmly invited to get in touch with us via our FB and Insta channels




Festive Launch of She’buntu Audio Kollektiv with members of Afro-Sisterhood Club, Bridget Fonkeu of Intercultural Women Empowerment Netzwerk of the Silent University Ruhr; Mahtab of Migrant Mom’s Mic and Hannah Fischer of Frau Lose e.V. . Music: Crystal DJ Kwe Favel. Afro-Sisterhood warmly thanks these cooperating partners for their support.





Afro-Sisterhood would like to thank interkultur Ruhr for their support and for sponsoring this project.

Förderfonds interkultur Ruhr 2020

Mom’s Mic: a story of audio self-empowerment #8M21



“Mom’s Mic Story” is on-air tomorrow #8M21

via the Free Radios of Germany (BFR)

Mom’s Mic Radio” is a group of women and mothers spread over some cities in the Ruhr Valley of Germany. They produced their first ever radio show under lockdown condition, each one alone with just a smartphone for recordings but joint in their self-motivation. In the regular media, the women didn’t find their experiences as migrants, refugees, activists and mothers represented. So, they had to take matterof media-making into their own hands… and that’s exactly what they did! Their first show got broadcast on Radio Nordpol.

Mom’s Mic found a home and a supportive community among the Free Radios of Germany and are now networked through Netzwerk.Medien.VielfaltFind out more information at medienvielfalt.net and colourfulvoices.net

By some good fortune, radio continental drift got invited doing a couple of workshops with the ladies of Mom’s Mic. We were delighted witnessing the women’s on-going story of audio self-empowerment.

And this is how it came to the radio show “Mom’s Mic Story” that’s gonna air via the Free Radios for 8th March 2021 #8M21 International Women’s Day #IWD21 #IFT21

11 am Radio F.R.E.I.

12 noon Freies Radio Freudenstadt

16 pm Wüste Welle

9 March 15 pm on Colaboradio/ fr-bb

22 April 16 pm Radio Dreiecksland via freie-radios.net

and on colourfulvoices.net

Building Radio Bridges @Wavefarm



A highlight radio experience of 2020 for me: “Building Radio Bridges – audio letters between lockdown NYC and the Zambezi Valley”.

This project grew from the soil of archived online recordings by the women audio and radio makers of Zubo Trust in Zimbabwe and #ZongweFM in Zambia and the active listening of Thomas R. Miller and his Anthropology students in NYC. Global human history came in as co-producer of sorts… Remote communication meets Distance Learning leading to a long-distance radio co-production.

We were amazed and are still exited to be participating in this astounding audio journey under global lockdown with a good 80 co-producers in pandemic isolation dotted around the world.

A playlist picturing this journey has “returned” newly-charged audio to the archive… welcoming listeners …. as much as interested DJs, radio artists and broadcasters to explore and use the archive audio… What next…?! How’s the journey continuing….?!?

For now, I can say, a special edited radio playlist will air on Wave Farm Radio, 27.February 5 pm (during the 4 – 6 pm afternoon show)

listen here:



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