Breaking Barriers – DJ Kwe unites indigenous women in music

2019/04/24

Crystal DJ Kwe Favel “Radio Remixes Voices of Binga” album was released in early April 2016. Kwe’s dance tracks of electronic drum music are dedicated to the Tonga people in Binga Zimbabwe.

Kwe herself belongs to the Cree and Metis, indigenous people of BC Canada. DJ Kwe – that is, “DJ native woman” [pronounce: kway] – listened to many of the 2012 recordings from Binga by radio continental drift; she heard her relations and ancestors speak in the Voices of Binga:

This is the story of my people…” she wrote to me, “i want to make an album of my music dedicated to the Tonga women…”. And she did…

Award ceremony at Damba Primary School 2012

Radio Remixes Voices of Binga” went public the very day I took off to Binga to join Zubo Trust women on the journey to their own media production. “Women document women stories” is an oral history collection recorded by Zubo women in their villages, communities and Women Forums.

When I traveled around Lake Kariba to join women producers at Zongwe FM in Zambia, oral history became “radio active” and Binga women recordings built a radio-bridge between Tonga communities both sides of the Zambezi.

.

DJ Kwe’s dance tracks were part and parcel of these three-in-one journeys. Her music joint women across frontiers in listening to each others stories, uniting indigenous knowledge from Canada and Zimbabwe in contemporary dance tracks, and marrying oral-history-in-remix to contemporary electronic media and music.

 

zubo-docu-workshop-women-stories5

Women on-air Mweezya Sinazongwe

Zubo Docu workshop Women Stories8

.

Prior to the release of “Radio Remixes Voices of Binga”, and starting from Kwe’s first contact to me, another amazing, but much more hidden journey unfolded… The album was produced in a year long email and listening correspondence between DJ Kwe’s studio on the West coast of Canada and my attic room somewhere on the Eastern edge of the Ruhr-Valley in Germany.

Screen Shot 2019-04-16 at 15.12.59

 

20161028_081040

The journey here unfolds entirely between two pairs of ears and imaginations. Crystal would choose the tracks which spoke to her most clearly and which she wanted to remix; send me her tracks packaged in her thoughts and descriptions of musical elements; I would listen, and listen again, and write comments, recommend different or related recordings, highlight certain excerpts, and package it all with my storytelling of local experiences in Binga and bits of ChiTonga knowledge.

Crystal DJKwe Favel turn-table and Zubo women Ilala bag copy

In finalising the Album, DJ Kwe wrote letters of appreciation and gratitude to all the vocals featured in “Radio Remixes Voices of Binga”. Displayed here in image are the letters for tracks 2 and 9 both addressed to Abbigal Muleya, at the time monitoring- and evaluations officer with Zubo Trust.

 

Screen Shot 2019-04-16 at 15.13.44

 

Abbi tells the story of the traditional team work of Tonga women, how it can even break barriers for women, and how it came to stand at the very centre of Zubo women’s work.

20160429_125654

.

Download the Letters of Appreciation From DJ Kwe

During my stay in Binga in 2016, I made an effort that the letters, appreciation, and music of DJ Kwe reached firstly those who were featured in the music. This included a visit to Siachilaba Primary School meeting Mr Kelias (former Head of School; track 4, The Baobab Tree) and Jossam Munkuli, keeper of the horns of Tonga Simonga musicians (track 14 Revitalise our culture).

 

20161116_152614

.

Together with Luyando Muyalali (tracks 10 and 14), we walked the 8 km from Manjolo to her native Damba. The Tonga Anthem included in the album’s first track was sung by children of Damba Primary School and recorded during an award ceremony under the tree…

20161026_124831

IMG_20161026_123427

 

Advertisements

Nosiko Mundia – documenting to share knowledge

2019/04/15

20180720_175720

.

Nosiko is a young woman born and raised in Sinazongwe Zambia. I am interested to hear her story how she got to join the community radio Zongwe FM. Nosiko has completed secondary school and had open ears for a different pass-time. She listened to the local radio in her homestead thinking ‘i can do just as well’. When ZongweFM team was looking for a secretary, she joined. Nosiko tells us that she long since had a dream of becoming a journalist; but now, checking on reality, she’ll soon start training as a nurse. In the Zongwe team, Nosiko also breaks into a rather male-dominated field: football commentary. She describes for us the process, how it’s done at Zongwe FM; even gives us a sound bite.

We recorded the interview in the IT class room next to the Zongwe FM studio after one of my first training sessions with Zongwe team in June 2018. The radio transmitter is housed in this room; that’s the white noise in the background.

20180628_155831

20180830_160604

can you manage behind the mic…? Yes I can!”

Nosiko was one of only very few young women who came to join our Zongwe training and broadcasts; and she was the only one to stay long enough for us to achieve some work together; such as the “Basimbi Radio” workshops and broadcasts with school girls; and an exchange visit to Zubo Trust in Binga across Kariba Lake which Nosiko got to join and document.

20180719_173836

come to Zongwe FM, join me as your sister!” (birth of “basimbi radio”)

Others came once or twice and vanished. It needed a lot of time, patience and flexibility to find the young ladies and collect them from wherever they were if need be. Reasons for the difficulty are varied, but I could convince myself that it all boils down to women’s endless duties at home and in their families. I found myself negotiating free time for the girls from mothers and fathers…  Memory and feeling told me that my experiences in neighboring Zimbabwe have been better by degrees. I went to and through various statistical records; numbers seem to confirm my impressions. See for example: WEF gender-gap index 2015 (the last year that Zambia is listed) or UNwomen sdg-report

.

20180830_155236

20180802_162434

.

The second interview with Nosiko Mundia was recorded shortly after her return from Binga where she accompanied Maria Ntandiyana and Cleopatra Nchite, two representatives of Sinazongwe women clubs on a visit to the women’s organisation Zubo Trust. Nosiko is still excited. As for the other two women, it was her very first international journey into unknown territory. She tells us about the different kinds of economic empowerment projects which they got to know among Zubo women, the kapenta fishing, the craft weavers, the soap production from Jatropha.

20180821_132944

my role was to record…”

Nosiko reflects on her role as the record-keeper, the one who documents the event in service for the others to assist memory and for those back home so even they may learn by listening to the recordings. We ask her about any differences in the lives of women she may have noticed:

“women in Sinazongwe don’t cooperate… and they don’t sell what they produce…”

20180831_170750

Based on Nosiko’s audio documentation, we made a number of broadcasts for the community where she, and also Maria and Cleopatra reported what they had witnessed and learned. Clips from the broadcasts are already archived.

Sinazongwe Community Radio Women's Exchange Visit

IMG-20180824-WA0003

Mrs Chilowana Senior Teacher – it is not so easy for the girls…

2019/04/05

20180629_123300

Sinazongwe Primary School was established in 1958 – i.e. at the time of the forced resettlement of the Tonga people. Over the 50 years since it was established, the school didn’t have one female head teacher… as Mrs Chilowana tells us.

20180824_171605

.

Mrs Chilowana has been in the teaching services for 25 year; the past 10 years as a Senior Teacher at Sinazongwe Primary/ Secondary School. In the interview, we ask Mrs Chilowana to give us a little insight in to the life of a woman in employment and public service in the rural areas of Sinazongwe district. In the first track, Mrs Chilowana tells a bit of her own story…

It’s not so easy…”

In the main part of the interview, we ask Mrs Chilowana to describe for us the social expectations on girl children in the community and how these community customs translate in to challenges in young women’s lives and education…

Girls are expected to do much of the home chose…”

There are various programmes in place to sensitize the community, lighten the plight of the girls and take steps of changing community habits. In the last part of the interview, Mrs Chilowana describes some of the “moderate changes” and tells us i.a. about the activities of the Guidance Office, a re-entry policy to school for young mothers and the involvement of the various stakeholders in the area.

.

20180809_180707

One of our responses to the situation Mrs Chilowana describes in her interview was “Basimbi Radio” – radio with and for girls, a special venture throughout the school holidays in August with weekly workshops and live shows. Music: DJ Kwe

.

The Radio-Bridge Compilation has some powerful tracks, tools for us, that we often played in our Basimbi Radio shows like this remix by Feralmind (London woman DJ) based on a recording by Zubo Trust’s Margaret Munkuli of Labecca singing a warning song for girls…

20180830_171538

 

Chiefteness Mwenda – as women in Africa we carry a huge responsibility

2019/03/31

IMG-20181229-WA0030

.

Normally in Tonga culture, they don’t give the position to women…

Trained as a nurse, and a leprosy controller in her district, Mrs Kalichi didn’t have plans leaving her job and ordinary family life. The male folk among the royal family refused to take up the vacant position of the chief – why should they leave their job in town for some “backward stuff” in the remote rural areas of Chikankata Zambia…?!

It’s not interesting, my sister…

Eli Mwiinga Namazuminana Kalichi became Chiefteness Mwenda of Chikankata in 2006. In this interview, she unravels for us why she took the step that her brothers refused, and what it meant for her life to take up the traditional leadership position as a woman, and become the first ever Chiefteness in Southern Province… Today, Chiefteness Mwenda is Deputy Chair of the house of Chiefs; and with my questions, I encouraged her to tell us a little more about the House and its 10% female members.

 

20180905_065653

 

As women, we have huge responsibility towards all community…

Chiefteness Mwenda feels deep empathy for the women and girls in her district and sees her responsibility as a female leader in taking steps to change the plight of women’s lives for the better.

 

Belonging comes natural with the sound of the drums from the Valley…

Chiefteness Mwenda was a baby girl of three at the time of the forced removal; but her father came from the valley, and the memory of the forced removal and resettlement of the Tonga people and, of the Tonga culture and tradition was very much present in the family when Eli Mwiinga was growing up.

 

20180904_164358

 

Twalumba loko; special thanks to Sharon Monga for brokering the opportunity to record this interview with Chiefteness Mwenda and for accompanying me on the journey to her native Chikankata.

 

20180905_070555

20180905_072754

Gogo – an ancient voice of the future

2019/03/28

 

20181013_170752

.

Thembi Ngwabi prefers to be called Gogo; ugogo meaning “granny, grandmother” in Ndebele. Even in 2012, when we recorded our first interview at Amakhosi Cultural Centre, the title of the elder and, an ancestral calling was already with Thembi. In 2013, I found her just relocated to the Lupane bush, in search of a realisation for her calling, and with a programme of cultural dance for local women and children at hand. We documented also this encounter with recordings.

The rain rituals have taken over my life…

In the present recording from October 2018 made at CoCont (Cont’s place) in Lupane, you may listen to the story of a demanding calling in Ugogo’s own words and voice. She describes her transformation from a young creative woman grown up in town (Bulawayo), a dancer, bass-guitarist, director of plays and films and of the Amakhosi Performing Arts Academy to a rapidly-aged, traditional rain-dancer in the Lupane bushland who follows spiritual instructions to build a new rain-making shrine which, as she has is linked straight to the Njelele shrine…

Almost everyone in Binga knows Maalila…

I ask Gogo in particular to tell us about her recent research in Binga. She had discovered that the geographically and historically closest rain-maker to her area in Lupane had lived in Binga. They went for a two-weeks research to Binga, and got to know the story of Maalila. He used to perform rain-making rituals at Binga’s hot springs until the Zimbabwe government and National Parks claimed the land as private property. Based on Gogo’s research, a thirteen-episode TV series about Maalila was developed and produced in Binga.

We need to go back to where we lost ourselves…

I also encourage Gogo to talk about her role as a woman in local culture and a woman leader of a new spiritual centre. I’m interested in Gogo’s contemporary open-mind now joint by an ancient voice; and curious about what I hear as a balance between a revival of culture and a celebration of diversity. Gogo ends the interview on a strong call and vision for her people… “we are fake… we don’t know what we are doing… we need to go back to where we lost ourselves…then, we can move on…”

Ugogo and her girl apprentice perform a traditional rain-making song.

.

20181013_171856

I felt shy photographing Ugogo… thus the pictures show mainly the dry Lupane bushland… and the trail of what was Cecil Rhodes’ dead-straight road through the bush….

Bulemu Mutale – South-North Volunteer

2019/03/24

IMG-20190323-WA0012

.

She was fortunate being encouraged to go to school… Bulemu Mutale tells us her story of a young woman growing up in the rural areas near the Zambezi, but also describes for us in detail how we can imagine the life of young women in Binga to look like…

I grew in a community where education for young women was not prioritised….”

.

With the help of her grandmother, Bulemu completed school. Her mother had passed on; then her father lost his job and became ill. Bulemu started working in a local super market and picked up the role of the breadwinner for the family. The money job didn’t satisfy her. She started volunteering at an orphanage, Sunrise Children’s Home and discovered her passion: working with children. When she got involved in helping packaging products like soap and baskets of Zubo women, she also began volunteering for Zubo Trust regularly.

I am going there as “Zubo”… maybe i’m going to call myself “Zubo”…!”

.

In 2018, Bulemu was chosen to participate in an exchange programme and go to Germany in January 2019. This interview was recorded in November, and in it, I encourage Bulemu to travel ahead with her imagination and share with us her expectations, her questions, her fear, and her projects…

20190224_171652

.

By now Bulemu is already working as a volunteer in a kita in Bielefeld. She is one of 16 young people from the global Souths to participate in a South – North exchange programme at Welthaus Bielefeld, which allows young volunteers from the global South to gain experiences in Germany in their chosen area of social engagement.

.

 

20181109_113101

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.

20181109_120038

Bulemu and world Map Bielefeld

 

Penny Yon – a voice of inspiration

2019/03/22

…and, a hand or two of crucial support to many artists in Zimbabwe and beyond, that’s the musician and arts admin Penny Yon.

1 Penny Yon portrait Hall of Fame

.

In 2012, I managed to lure Penny away from her demanding work at Book Cafe/ Pamberi Trust, and record this interview with her. An amazing storyteller, Penny writes her-story as she speaks and a couple of other histories in the Zimbabwe Arts and BaTonga cultural exchange too…

At the time, just before my first visit to Binga as a guest of Basilwizi Trust, I was particularly interested hearing Penny’s experiences of life in Binga; as Penny lived there for a number of years with her family working for Keith Goddard’s Kunzwana Trust with and for the musicians in Binga, and later, for the Tonga.Online project jointly with Peter Kuthan and the Zimbabwe Austrian friendship Association.

Hear Penny’s account of the Tonga.Online project reaching for the first time across Lake Kariba from Binga to Sinazongwe….

Penny’s audio history-writing was very recently a poignant contribution to live shows on Zongwe FM, when we were re-visiting steps in storytelling the long journey of inter/cultural relations and exchange across Lake Kariba between the Tonga people and especially, with Zongwe FM, the beginnings of Tonga radio-bridging across the Zambezi (stay tuned as we’ll also soon archive the Zongwe FM shows of 2018…!)

20180821_133515

01 ZFM_Binga_North_3D

.

Penny Yon – a voice of inspiration in remix…

Before travelling to Binga in 2016 for the project with Zubo Trust “Women document women stories”, we run a remix call-out in support of the project and Binga women. It was clips from Penny’s 2012 interview recordings which scored the largest number of remixes in the call-out… hear just some… more here

.

Samba Yonga – the journey of an influential woman

2019/03/14

Samba Yonga is a Zambian journalist and media consultant. She has worked a long time as editor for Big Issue Zambia and has written for several other publications. Yonga is the founder of Ku-Atenga Media, a media consultancy firm and was named one of Destiny’s “Power of 40” most influential women in Africa 2017.”

Thus begins a Wikipedia article for Samba Yonga archived i.a. under the category “women in Zambia”. If you’d follow the link of that category, you’ll now find a sizeable number of articles, recently published about notable women in Zambia. This in itself is part and parcel of Samba Yonga’s work, part of a long journey and research…

Samba Yonga International Women's Day 2019

.

Samba Yonga shares with us her journey of a woman in the media in Zambia, becoming an influential player in the emerging industry of digital representation, and a keen researcher throughout.

Samba’s storytelling is a fascinating genre of, i’d call it practical roll-modelling. She takes the listeners with her in her thought processes and inquiring and thus allows us to share in to her discoveries, questions and decisions on her journey.

Didn’t the women really do anything..? Where is our history…?

Samba Yonga co-founded the Museum of Women’s History in Zambia together with Mulenga Kapwepwe. The aim of the initiative is to insert the missing half of the country’s history into the mainstream and to do so in creative ways and with the means of contemporary digital media. This amazing initiative of rewriting a country’s history is the main focus of this interview, and with my questions I encouraged Samba to tell her story with this particular perspective in mind and to reveal to us how it ultimately came to founding the Women’s Museum.

In track 6 of the interview, you’ll hear about the most recent developments and activities of the Women’s Museum, the WikiWomen project #HerZambianHistory in early 2018 and the series of audio-visual podcast #LeadingLadiesZM about to be launched just now, in March, Women’s History Month 2019. Listen here for a short introduction

20180619_154509

 

We recorded the interview in the National Museum in Lusaka (occasionally you’ll hear some disturbances in the background); the Museum actually already granted exhibition space for the Women’s History Museum’s future displays.

Find the Museum of Women’s History online at:   https://www.whmzambia.org/ (currently under construction)

.

Listen to Samba on: The Leading Ladies Zambia project

53761853_2280432242232250_4092382703784034304_o

Women on-air at ResonanceFM

2019/03/12

In case you missed the live shows on Resonance FM for International Women’s Day 2019 or, want to listen again, here’s your chance to listen to the interviews of NND presenter of  “the workplace” on Resonance:

In the second half of the show, you can hear Rosemary Cumanzala, Director of Zubo Trust talk live from Binga Zimbabwe about Zubo’s economic empowerment projects with  many hundreds of women in rural Zambezi Valley. Music, first Canada Nation’s woman DJ, Crystal DJ Kwe Favel.

Following, Samba Tonga, co-founder of the Women’s History Museum talks live from Lusaka Zambia about the idea and activities of this initiative which currently re-writes history in Zambia in many creative ways.

womens-forum-chinonge-in-meeting

And here also the precursor for the show on International Women’s Day, an interview with radio continental drift on “the workplace” at Resonance FM:

“to kick off Women’s History Month 2019, and as a precursor to a special extended episode of The Workplace on International Women’s Day 2019, NND talks to sound and radio artist Claudia Wegener, who founded Radio Continental Drift in the streets of Johannesburg, about the training she conducted with women of Zubo Trust in Zimbabwe – an organisation which focuses on the economic empowerment of women.”

20160614_143054

“I was the only girl…”

2019/03/10

The story of DJ Petronella recorded in Lusaka 2012, recently inspired young women presenters at the community radio Zongwe FM in Sinazongwe Zambia; especially one clip went on-air numerous times in the Zambezi Valley… reactions are also documented … and remixed further…

Encouraged by her Mum, Petronella went for auditions at ZNBC… She was the only girl… Got it! …and this became the start of her career in radio.

We made the recording with DJ Petronella at Kulima tower in the floors of Joy FM Lusaka where she was working at the time in 2012. Listen to Petronella…!

The recording and story from DJ Petronella inspired vivid response from DJ Mo and DJ Nono in a Zongwe FM Family Show in July 2018. The studio – as usual filled with male Zongwe presenters but plans for “Basimbi Radio” already in the pipeline, the women presenters, Monica and Nosiko were delighted to grasp the opportunity for a shout-out to the women and girls in the community to make their voices heard.

20180719_174011

listen to a clip from the Zongwe Family show 

20180719_173854

Excerpts from this on-air show went out even further with the jingle for “Basimbi Radio” a weekly radio opportunity with and for young women on Zongwe FM. Music by Crystal DJ Kwe Favel from the 2016 Album “Radio Remixes Voices of Binga”.

20180720_175720


%d bloggers like this: