Slow broadcast, CDs and radio solidarity

2019/08/28

the CD, it seems, still and again does play its part in radio work and radio-bridge building…

 

i’m noting with interest that in our recent conversation with women radio makers at Radio Orange in Vienna, we exchanged CDs.

 

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And, as i’m observing myself, it works well: I appreciate an object in my hand which offers me the careful selection of a playlist of tracks that spans an hour; i’m more likely to listen than while roaming online.

 

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Last year at Zongwe FM, we hand-produced an edition of 100 CDs of selected tracks from the Radio-Bridge Compilation to use them for the radio’s community fundraising efforts.

 

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While on the Zimbabwe side with Zubo Trust, we also produced CDs of specially selected tracks, adding another level of the women’s productions to Zubo’s stalls on market fairs like this one in Harare Gardens.

 

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While preparing for the women’s exchange visit between Zongwe and Zubo, across Kariba Lake, the CD again was present, just as the Radio-Bridge remixes were part of the live broadcasts.

 

The CD carries an audio “message” of our global connectedness with listeners elsewhere in/ to local radio community work…

Big thanks and appreciation to all the remix artists from 17 different countries who contributed to the Radio-Bridge Compilation

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zambezi valley ON-AIR – tune-in 11 August 11pm

2019/08/09

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This is a radio-bridge across the Zambezi and across the world…”

(unten auf Deutsch)

tune-in via: https://oe1.orf.at/player

In 2016, I reached Binga about end of April, just in time to witness and document the first ever celebration of International Women’s Day in Binga Centre. When I noted surprise about the date, I was given the following explanation: International Women’s Day was celebrated as by international agreement on 8th March in the capital Harare after which, celebrations would move on, out to the peripheries, across the provinces of the entire country and into the rural areas… until, finally…

We are in the border regions of Zimbabwe and Zambia; ancestral land of the Tonga people who lived here joined and divided by their river since long; since 1958, divided by Lake Kariba and Nationality.

…the river belongs to the Tonga people/ the river has fish and crocodile/ our ancestors are crying…” (excerpt Tonga Anthem)

Mwayusa bieni,” hallo, good day! This is the place where we are talking from when our words tickle the ears of global listeners. Women of the Zambezi valley have a story to tell. They have made many of the recordings and first broadcasts. They are the protagonists and the directors of their audio documents. They take us by the hand (or, the ear) to daily life in the homesteads and to the work places of women in the rural areas. “Women document women stories” was the title of our oral history project with Zubo Trust. “radio” was not mentioned (but in the long play project description). It is a guarded national territory and a potentially sticky issue (not only in Zimbabwe); and not least, if it comes to “the centre” from the people “of the peripheries”.

Did you ever want to learn some of the secrets of the famous Tonga basket weaving…? Well, listen up, you are going to sit with the weavers and learn to weave malala

You’ll learn a bit of ChiTonga too in the process, because that’s the language we talk and sing both sides of the Zambezi Valley. Banakazi means women; balumi men. Malala is the palm leave used for weaving. A Zubo is a basket for fishing used by Tonga women when the Zambezi was still a stream in this area. Bbindawuko banakazi means business women.

The story the women of the Valley have to tell is no less a sticky issue, up and down the Zambezi and across the world… women self-empowerment, women economic empowerment through unity and team work. You’ll witness live as they talk to their Zambian sisters, the Bbindawuko Banakazi, registered name of the first women fishing cooperative on the lake. Their women-friendly kapenta rig is called Zubo.

Ngazi yamano means store house of knowledge; it is a name for Zongwe FM station in Sinazongwe Zambia. Zongwe FM was born in Zimbabwe more than ten years ago from the vision of a radio for the people both sides of the valley. Until today and despite many efforts, radio waves have not yet reached the valley people at large to bridge what divides. The women’s audio and radio recordings have gone around the lake; with the “news” of women self-empowerment, they went across the water, to the other side and even, across the world. Slow broadcast is radio too. The stories of the women have (been) zipped out of HD, CD and online archives into the everyday somewhere, boiled like malala in the heads of radio artists and audio activists until they are soft and coloured, ready for audio-weaving. Twined in rhythm, they return as surprisingly patterned sonic teachings and radio gifts, tickle the mind and make it and us dance.

…there’s a pattern, and you can hear the pattern going and coming…”!

radio continental drift has accompanied the women in their journey of audio and radio self-empowerment; and has listened to the weavers for inspiration on how to interlace audio and radio threads from the archives. According to what methods and measures could we cut or slice sonic matter and radio streams for weaving storylines inside out in a circle or helix manner; adding audio “pins” or warp inserts where required to increase the diameter smoothly in a patterned flow of sounds, words and voices…?

here’s our radio-basket, from Zambezia* for global broadcast….

Twalumba loko kutuswiilila / Thank you for listening

Zambezians* in radio solidarity: Abbigal Muleya Mumpande, Alan Dunn, Anna Stereopoulou, Barnaby Spigel, Bbindawuko Banakazi Coop with chairlady Cecilia, Budima musicians, Bulemu Mutale, Caven Mugande, Chiefteness Mwenda, Chiza Mwinde, Claudia Wegener aka Mutinta Mukuwa, Cleopatra Nchite, Crystal DJ Kwe Favel, Danisa Mudimba, Daphna Naftali, Diana Mwemba, disquetteïs, Donor Ncube, Dorothy Nosiko Mundia, Eunice Mwinde and her grandmother (banene), Esnart Mweemba, Felicity Ford, Feralmind, Godsglory JibrilEllams, Gogo aka Thembi Ngwabi, James Teelela, Kasimbi-ka-malaiti, Kennedy Kambole, Labecca Munkuli, Lisa Greenaway aka DJ Lapkat, Lucia Munenge and banene Ester, Luyando Muyalali and Janet Mwiinde, Lydia Banda Ndeti, Macdonald Chiemezie Nwokeji, Margaret Munkuli and her mother, Mario Friedwagner, Mariya Ntandiyana, Matron Muleya, Meira Asher, Monica Sianbunkululu aka DJ Mo, Monga Sharon, Mulenga Kapwepwe, Mweezya and Mweeka Women Clubs, Natasha, Nelico Mweetwa, Niki Matita, Nonhlanhla Mathe, Notani Munkuli, Patience Kabuku aka DJ Petty Young, Patricia Viencent aka NND, Penny Yon, Pupils of Damba Primary, Rosemary Cumanzala, Simatelele Women’s Forum, Simudenda Bertha, Soli Tii, Tamisha-Osamie, Terence Humphrey aka Trunkstore Arts, Tom Miller aka Comrade Squelch, Tonsodba Tshuma, Tusumpuke Saving Group and Nsenga Women’s Club, Tuligwazye Women, Valerie Vivancos, Valerio Orlandini, Viola Mwemba and Barbara Mudimba, Virginia Mwembe, weavers at Bunsiwa and Chinonge, Yvonne Chipo Makopa, Zubo Trust, Basilwizi Trust, Zongwe FM, Freies Radio Salzkammergut, i.a.

*the “Zambezians” („MaZambezi“) was a derogatory name for the Tonga people in Southern Rhodesia at the time after their forced resettlement; the name “Zambezia” for this area can be traced back to Victorian times

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radio/ remix/ archives,

remixes, (of “Radio-Bridge” Compilation, if not otherwise stated)

  • Crystal DJ Kwe Favel, “Voices of Binga” Album tracks 01, 09, 13, 15; and
  • Beautiful Warning” feat. Labecca Munkuli (unpublished)
  • Barnaby Spigel, “Women of the Great River” spigelsound dup mix (in “Vox”)
  • disquetteïs, “Zubo” feat. Lucia Munenge
  • Felicity Ford, feat. Esnart Mweemba (in “Vox”)
  • Feralmind, “Warning Song for Girls” feat. Labecca Munkuli
  • Niki Matita, “Haze’s Garden Radio”
  • Soli Tii, feat. Simudenda Bertha (in “Vox”)
  • Thomas Miller, “Zimbabwean Geology”
  • Valerie Vivancos, “We Are One”
  • Valerio Orlandini, “Path of Awareness” feat. Donor Ncube

broadcast excerpts,

original footage recordings,

Donor Ncube, Margaret Munkuli, Eunice Mwinde, Lucia Munenge, Caven Mugande, Nosiko Mundia, Monica Sianbunkululu, Patience Kabuku and Claudia Wegener; archived under cc license online

cover art Radio-Bridge Compilation: Trunkstore Arts

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Eine Radiobrücke über den Sambesi und um die Welt…”

(“This is a radio-bridge across the Zambezi and across the world…” )

2016 erreichte ich Binga ungefähr Ende April, gerade rechtzeitig, um die erste Feier des Internationalen Frauentags im Zentrum von Binga mitzuerleben und zu dokumentieren. Als ich Überraschung über das Datum anmerkte, wurde mir Folgendes erklärt: Internationaler Frauentag wird nach internationaler Vereinbarung am 8. März in der Hauptstadt Harare gefeiert, wonach die Feierlichkeiten sich über die Provinzen des gesamten Landes hinaus- und weiterbewegen in die Peripherien und die ländlichen Gebiete… bis sie endlich…

Wir befinden uns in den Grenzregionen von Simbabwe und Sambia. Die Tonga leben hier seit Urzeiten, verbunden und getrennt durch ihren Fluss; und seit 1958 geteilt durch den Kariba Stausee und die Nationalität.

Der Fluss gehört den Tonga/ im Fluss gibt es Fische und Krokodile/ unsere Vorfahren weinen…”

(Textauszug Tongahymne)

“Mwayusa bieni”, hallo, guten Tag! Dies ist der Ort, von dem aus wir sprechen, wenn unsere Worte die Ohren globaler Zuhörer kitzeln. Frauen aus dem Sambesi-Tal haben eine Geschichte zu erzählen. Sie haben viele der Aufnahmen und ersten Sendungen gemacht. Sie sind die Protagonistinnen und die Regisseurinnen ihrer Audiodokumente. Sie führen uns an der Hand (oder am Ohr) tief in den Alltag auf den Höfen und zu den Arbeitsplätzen der Frauen auf dem Land. „Frauen dokumentieren Frauengeschichten“ war der Titel unseres Oral History Projekts mit den Frauen von Zubo Trust. “Radio” wurde nicht erwähnt (ausser in der long play Version der Projektbeschreibung). Radio ist Territorium nationalen Sicherheitsinteresses und ein potenziell heikles Thema (nicht nur in Simbabwe); und nicht zuletzt, wenn die Sendung in “verkehrter” Richtung ausgestrahlt wird, von Menschen der Randgruppen und Minderheiten ausgeht.

Wollten Sie schon immer einmal einige der Geheimnisse des berühmten Tonga-Korbflechtens kennenlernen…? Nun, hör zu, du wirst bei den Weberinnen sitzen und es lernen, Malala zu weben…

Nebenbei lernst du auch ein bisschen ChiTonga; denn in dieser Sprache sprechen und singen wir hier zu beiden Seiten des Sambesi-Tals. Banakazi bedeutet Frauen; Balumi Männer. Malala ist das Palmblatt, das zum Weben verwendet wird. Ein Zubo ist ein Korb für den Fischfang, von den Tonga-Frauen benutzt als der Sambesi hier noch ein Fluss war. Bbindawuko banakazi bedeutet Geschäftsfrauen.

Die Geschichte, die die Frauen des Tals zu erzählen haben, ist nicht weniger heikles Thema, sowohl am Sambesi, als auch in der restlichen Welt… Selbst-Emanzipation von Frauen, wirtschaftliche Selbstständigkeit von Frauen durch Einheit und Teamarbeit. Sie werden es live miterleben, wie die Bbindawuko Banakazi, dies ist auch ihr offiziell registrierer Name, ihren Schwestern aus Sambia ihre Geschichte erzählen: die Geschichte der ersten Frauenfischerei Cooperative auf dem Kariba See. Ihre frauenfreundliche Kapenta-Rig heißt Zubo.

Ngazi yamano bedeutet Speicherhaus des Wissens; es ist ein Name für Zongwe FM Radio in Sinazongwe Sambia. Zongwe FM wurde vor mehr als zehn Jahren in Simbabwe geboren aus der Vision eines Radios für die Menschen auf beiden Seiten des Tals. Trotz vieler Bemühungen haben Radiowellen noch nicht die Talbevölkerung zu beiden Seiten erreicht, um zu überbrücken, was trennt. Die Ton- und Radioaufnahmen der Frauen sind mit den “news” der Selbst-Emanzipation von Frauen um und über den See, auf die andere Seite und sogar in die Welt gegangen. Slow broadcast ist auch Radio. Die Geschichten der Frauen sind/ wurden aus HD, CD und online Archiven in den Alltag anderswo gezippt, haben wie Malala in den Köpfen von Radiokünstlerinnen und Audioaktivistinnen gekocht, bis sie weich, bunt und webfähig für die Ohren sind. In Rhythmus verwoben, kehren die Geschichten als erstaunliche Klang-Muster und Radiogeschenke zurück, kitzeln das Hirn und bringen es und uns zum Tanzen.

“…es gibt ein Muster; du kannst es kommen und gehen hören… ”!

radio continental drift hat die Frauen auf ihrem Weg der Audio- und Radio-Selbst-Emanzipation begleitet; den Korbweberinnen zugehört, und sich von ihnen inspirieren lassen. Nach welchen Methoden und Maßen können wir Audio- und Radiofäden aus den Archiven verweben; wie das Klangmaterial und Radiostreams schneiden, oder spalten, und von innen nach außen im Rund oder Helix zu Handlungslinien weben; wie Audio-Kettfäden hinzuflechten und den Durchmesser im gemusterten Fluss von Klängen, Worten und Stimmen vergrößern?

Hier ist unser Radio-Korb, von Sambesia* für den weltweiten Rundfunk…

Twalumba loko kutuswiilila/ Danke fürs Zuhören

(…)

* Die “Sambesianer” („MaZambezi“) war ein abfälliger Name für die Tonga in Southern-Rhodesia in der Zeit nach der Zwangsumsiedlung; der Name “Sambesia” für dies Gebiet kann bis in Viktorianische Zeit zurückverfolgt werden

on-air 11 August at Ö1 Kunstradio 11pm CEST and CET

2019/08/08

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This is a radio bridge across the Zambezi and across the world…”

interweaves sound- and radio recordings made by the women of Zubo Trust and Zongwe FM in the Zambezi Valley as well as remixes and radio contributions by international artists from Australia, to Africa, Europe and as far as Canada.

The art of basket weaving by Tonga women is famous around the world. Listeners can expect a journey on sounds and music to the shores of Kariba Lake, to removed rural areas of Zimbabwe and Zambia, in to the circles of basket weavers and to the port of the first women fishing cooperative on Kariba Lake…

it’s a “radio basket in 53 minutes” – possibly the first of it’s kind…


a radio play by Claudia Wegener/ radio continental drift

on 11 August, Sunday, 11pm CEST & CET at ORF/ Kunstradio and @ https://oe1.orf.at/player 

The album “A Radio-Bridge across the Zambezi” released last year contains contributions from 17 countries. Proceeds from online sale support the radio work of women in the Zambezi Valley.

forthcoming broadcast on Kunstradio

2019/08/08

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The work on the production for Kunstradio is finalised and in the pipeline for Sunday night’s #Kunstradio broadcast …

stay tuned…!

Ö1 – 11 August; 11.03pm – 11.59pm (CEST & CET) & Online

http://kunstradio.at/2019B/11_08_19.html

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among Ilala palm trees on Karl’s Platz Vienna

 

at Kunstradio office with Anna Soucek

 

Radio Papesse awards our contribution to sound-art on Florence tram

2019/07/28

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radio continental drift proudly shares the news that Radio Papesse awarded

our sound-art contribution to “Benjamin – sounds along the tramway”

among 90 submitted works with one of the two prizes.

We are delighted to contribute to this inspiring sound-art festival by Radio Papesse.

Benjamin is a sound-art festival for the Florence tramway which will take place form 10 – 13 October 2019.

We really liked the project and felt inspired by the idea to

join commuters to a community of listeners for what ever brief moments.

Read more at

RADIO PAPESSE

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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.

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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.

 

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Women on-air Mweezya Sinazongwe

Zubo Docu workshop Women Stories8

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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.

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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.

 

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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.

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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).

 

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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…

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Nosiko Mundia – documenting to share knowledge

2019/04/15

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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…”

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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

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

2019/04/05

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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.

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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.

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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

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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…

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

2019/03/31

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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.

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

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Gogo – an ancient voice of the future

2019/03/28

 

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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.

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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….


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