Colonial divide-and-rule stories… in remix

 

“…I’m also fascinated by the Tonga people because they are marginalized like I am…”  (Penny Yon)

 

Zim flag Tyunga School

 

The remix by sound-artist Inge van den Kroonenberg transports Penny Yon’s story of a “mixed race” Zimbabwean to another level and, “extracts” the painful awakening of the people after independence that Colonialism was not over, but in fact continuing in new guises… – though, at least in Inge’s evocative remix, there’s a “tongue in cheek” too; things are never one-dimensional… Coffee may be one of the first and major goods extracted by European colonialists from the African continent – the noises of coffee-making sound like an explosion to a nearby microphone, carrying the history of an ongoing colonial exploitation…; but, “the ritual of coffee-making is bringing people together” to tell their stories…

 

 

Inge van den Kroonenberg writes about her remix:

“I put the original voice recording on microcassette and mixed it with my coffeepot coming to a boil. By moving the microphone and tape deck around the stove the sounds of voice, tape, gas and boiling coffee blend together in a distorted murmur. I choose these particular sounds and the social/economical/political issues they are linked to; gas extraction, transportation of coffee beans and (the history of) colonization as a situation that is still ‘boiling’. But I also wanted to refer to the ritual of coffee making and how it brings people together to share thoughts and conversation in an intimate and familiar way.”

 

Inge’s remix also resonates, to my ears, with the sounds of radio communication.. even Morse code at the start of the piece… and again, as with the sounds of coffee-making, there is a double edge to the history of radio broadcasts, as a tool of oppression, or one of liberation…

 

Zongwe FM in Sinazongwe Zambia - photo M.C.Diess

 

Zongwe Community Radio, a Zambian station across the Kariba Lake broadcasting into Zimbabwe since 2013 supported by Panos Southern Africa, Basilwizi Trust and the Zimbabwe Austrian Friendship Association. So the people in Binga can now hear programmes in ChiTonga broadcast by their “cousins” on the other side of Kariba Lake. In Zimbabwe itself community radio licenses though existing since 2000 have not yet been granted. The state-broadcaster ZBC occasionally airs programs in ChiTonga, but the radio signals cannot be received in Binga.

 

Geography class in Siachilaba Primary School

 

…we are on the grounds of Siachilaba Primary School in the Binga district of the Zambezi Valley… listening to a geography class under a tree…

a clip from the recording also features in the call-out playlist of “The Women of the Great River”

 

Album 4b

 

 

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