…celebrated in sonic remix by the vocalist-lyricist-composer Ms. Soli Tii in Berlin, artists/ composer Joseph Ba aka BroodingSideofMadness and the music/ poetry duo Asymmetroi Faroi in Greece and, in visual remix by the painter, researcher and art teacher Agness Buya Yombwe, based in Livingstone, Zambia.
These contributions celebrate the important social roles of mothers passing on indigenous culture and knowledge to their children and grandchildren and, ensuring with their hard daily work, often in subsistence farming, a basic education for their children.
This stands against the dark background of colonialism – of yesterday and today – leaving impoverished communities where education of girl children became a luxury and child marriages are frequent. Additionally, the histories of colonial interference and missionary work on the continent, often left an imprint of patriarchal social structures on post-independent nations; where possibly before, in matrilineal tribes of Southern Africa, women’s rights and economic independence were safeguarded in indigenous tradition.
The remixes of Joseph Ba and Assymetroi Faroi lend resonance to Linda Mudimba’s “praise song” for her Mum. Linda Mudimba is a student of African languages and Communication at Lupane State University, Zimbabwe (or perhaps she is already working as a journalist writing in ChiTonga – as was her vision…); at the time of the recordings Linda was one of the National Volunteers with Basilwizi Trust in Binga.
From the call-out playlist, Ms. Soli Tii has chosen the voices of two women talking of their mother and grandmother and, something like the love and duty to the culture they inherited through their female elders… Esnart Mweemba (Zambia) talks about her mother’s special art of basket weaving; Simudenda Bertha (Zimbabwe) recounts learning the art of bead-making from her grandmother, now passing it on to her children; she adds an appeal to the Tonga people to value and appreciate their culture. The two tracks could be seen to represent the BaTonga both sides of the Zambezi, one people today separated by the man-made lake of Kariba.
Ms. Soli Tii herself has started a musical women’s project called the “World Women’s Project”, which as she writes on the website was inspired by “The Women of the Great River”; and is dedicated to the memory of her late mother.
red beads on the bed, painting from the Taboo series by Agness Buya Yombwe 2015
I’m delighted presenting the first contribution of an artist from the region to “The Women of the Great River” call-out, Agness Buya Yombwe in Livingstone Zambia. Agness’ paintings are a visual remix to clip 51 in the playlist, a recording in which Luyando and her aunt Janet talk about female initiation rights among the Tonga people in front of related artifacts at the BaTonga Museum in Binga. Here, Janet relates the women’s custom of placing red beads (which she’s usually wearing) on the bed, indicating to her husband that she’s in her menstrual cycle.
In clip 54 of the Call-out playlist, you can hear Agness Buya Yombwe herself talking about her experience of listening to the recordings with Janet and Luyando in Binga. It was there and then that Agness “promised” making a painting about what she had heard from Janet.
I played the Binga recordings to Agness, knowing her interest and research about indigenous cultures, and the “Mbusa” (female initiation rights) among the Bemba people in particular. The above photo shows the Mbusa teachings in process at Wayi Wayi Gallery’s permanent Mbusa installation room.
A Visual Artist, designer and art teacher from Lusaka, Agness founded and runs Wayi Wayi Art Studio & Gallery with her husband, the painter Laurence Yombwe, in Livingstone, Zambia.