…told by Janet Mwiinde and Luyando Muyalali in Binga remixed by DJ and Radio Maker Lisa Greenaway aka LAPKAT in Australia
It’s the history of displacement of the BaTonga from their ancestry land at the Zambezi, which Lisa Greenaway brings to resonate in her composition. In the original recording, Janet and Luyando are telling me about the meaning of a ritual whereby, during a public ceremony, a woman quietly went around the speakers splashing water from a bucket on the ground. Janet says, the water may refer to the Zambezi, life source of the Tonga people; and her nice Luyando adds that the water may be here a memorial gift to the ancestors, and especially those who lost their lives when the Kariba Dam was constructed by the colonial government and the rising water of the Zambezi flooded the ancestry land of the BaTonga.
The BaTonga are descendants of those who were forcefully removed from their fertile land at the Zambezi by the British Colonial Government in the 1950s. They had to escape into the arid, higher regions both sides of the Zambezi valley where agriculture is almost impossible. The land of their ancestors is now at the bottom of the Kariba Lake. Even after independence, water and electricity from the dam bypasse them serving others in the country. “Having lost everything their culture survives strongly as a driving force of self-assertion, resilience and development.” For information please also see some of the related websites: Zubo Trust, Basilwizi Trust, Mulonga, Kunzwana, Austrian Zimbabwe Friendship Association
As I first witnessed the ritual during a public ceremony in the village of Damba, I’d imagine that the water ritual may be part and parcel of many ceremonies among the BaTonga, including most probably initiation or weddings. The two songs in the remix belong to female initiation rites and wedding (as far as I’m aware…). One is sung by Janet Mwiinde, from, what’s now, the Zimbabwe side of Lake Kariba; the other, by Christine, Ester and Mtenda, three Tonga women from the Zambian shore of the Zambezi (though now living in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe).