Posts Tagged ‘BaTonga’

Indigenous Knowledge Dance

2017/06/02

This beautiful dance track by Crystal DJ Kwe Favel allows us to appreciate cultural wisdom founded deeply in indigenous knowledge.

“…because right now we don’t have the beads; so we are taking the patterns from the beads to the baskets…”!!

Ilala cutting Chinonge

The track was much used in our live radio shows with DJ Mo, DJ Petty Young and women from Sinazongwe on Zongwe FM last August.

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Actually, the BaTonga women both sides of the Zambezi, Zambia and Zimbabwe loved that track because, being a weaver themselves, or perhaps a daughter or friend of a basket weaver, they knew instantly what was at stake here: many of the patterns used in basket weaving can be traced back to traditional Tonga beadwork; but right now, beads are hard to come by in the rural areas…, so…!

Ilala Zubo cluch bag at Sinazongwe

Basket weaver Chinonge Womens Forum2

Translated into a universally valid cultural wisdom the teaching says: if one traditionally used base of cultural output subsides for one reason or another the indigenous knowledge and its varied expressions will move on to the next more available output material or channel. Here goes a natural law of spiritual survival.

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In the original interview recordings from 2012, which DJ Kwe remixed in her dance track, Viola Mwembe and Barbara Mudimba at Binga Craft Centre explain to me the meanings and origins and uses of patterns. And by the way, DJ Kwe means “DJ Native Woman”. The award winning DJ belongs to the indigenous people of British Columbia Canada. Crystal DJ Kwe Favel knows what she makes her music sing n dance about.

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In purchasing the Album “Radio Remixes Voices of Binga”, you’ll support the healing arts of DJ Kwe and the work of women for women across the globe. From the online sales, 50% of proceeds will go to project work with women in Binga via Zubo Trust and Basilwizi Trust.

The picture above  shows Donna and Matron from the Zubo team at Binga office with the poster for the Album. Below, Olga proudly carries an Ilala Laptop-Bag on the way to her office at the Ministry of Women Affairs in Binga. The Laptop-Bag is crafted similarly to the traditional BaTonga baskets from Ilala Palm leave by Zubo Trust’s women.

Ilala laptop bag

Tonga women on the way to their own media production

2017/02/07

From April – November 2016, Zubo Trust joint forces with radio continental drift/ Claudia Wegener to train Zubo staff and six community based facilitators (CBFs) in audio recording and production.

“Women documenting Women Stories” is the name of the task and the radio project with Zubo’s women.

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The playlist of recordings from the workshop days can document a bit of the journey, which we traveled together in exploring the use of audio recorders among the women Zubo is working with in rural Binga. The playlist showcases a selection of our recordings over three days together, and does so in footage recordings, including our trials to say what we mean, and our giggles.

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On the journey, which you can follow in the recordings, we practiced listening, to others, in interviews and, to ourselves; we explored storytelling and the power of detailed description on a listener; we learned how to talk with machines and how to listen carefully to their playback; we explored the tools of communication, how to encourage our counterparts to enjoy themselves in storytelling; we discussed where we come from and where we wish to go to, or not to go to… ; we practiced translation, listened to the strange sounds of foreign, African languages and, again and again, to the curious sound of ourselves as we speak to others.

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In July, the women went out in to their communities and captured the work of the Zubo’s women in the villages and the Women’s Forum in sound and voices. They also interviewed their elders, mothers and grandmothers, on BaTonga culture, tradition and history.

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The second playlist presents a selection of the recordings which Zubo women themselves made in their local communities and includes some excerpts of statements by the young media women about their experiences as citizen journalists and oral historians in their villages.

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DJ Kwe’s music flies like an acoustic beacon over our journey together with the women of Zubo Trust towards their own media work as young BaTonga business women…

I could stand for my people…” Track 5 of DJ Kwe’s “Radio Remixes Voices of Binga” features Linda Mudimba articulately voicing her wish to represent the Tonga people as a Media Woman (based on a recording by rcd in 2012 ).

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In purchasing the Album “Radio Remixes Voices of Binga”, you’ll support the healing arts of DJ Kwe and the work of women for women across the globe. From the online sales, 50% of proceed go to project work with women in Binga via Zubo Trust and Basilwizi Trust.

Twalumba loko.

Thank you for listening.

if you want to go far…

2017/01/22

If you want to go fast, go alone; if you want to go far, go together.”

This proverb is known in many countries of Southern Africa. The women of Zubo Trust practice its wisdom, and follow with it a long tradition among the BaTonga women to work in teams.

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Crystal DJ Kwe Favel eternalised the wisdom and voices of women from Binga in an amazing Album of dance tracks “Radio Remixes Voices of Binga”.

Team Work”, track 9 of the Album features Abbigal Mumpande nee Muleya in a recording from 2012 by radio continental drift. Abbigal, Zubo’s Monitoring- and Evaluations Officer at the time, now serves her community as the Arts, Culture and Heritage Officer of the Ministry of Rural Development in Binga.

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In a letter of appreciation to Abbigal Mumpande, DJ Kwe writes:

“It was my hope to highlight the traditional ways women work together. It’s imperative we maintain our rights as women, not only traditionally, but also as equity workers in this modern world. Women must work in teams to become successful, regardless of race. We believe women are sacred but the modern world has stripped us of ways to protect our inherent rights as Aboriginal Women. This track was meant to inspire a group of women to work simultaneously, together with efficiency. It was important to demonstrate the intricate process that your team showcases as you work in unison standing beside each other. But most of all, I wanted to give you your water back in order to maintain these traditional practices. As Aboriginal Women, we are called Water Keepers. It is our role to maintain water during ceremonies, feast and conferences. Men are the Fire Keepers, as you notice, Water can smother the Fire, if the Fire gets unruly…lol. Our roles are defined by the medicines we carry.”

In her music, DJ Kwe joins the joy of song and dancing with the deep wisdom of indigenous knowledge. Belonging to the Cree and Metis Nation, the indigenous population of Canada, DJ Kwe’s art of healing in “Radio Remixes Voices of Binga” embraces the stories and histories of indigenous people across continents. We are invited to join the joyous moment of unity in dance and listening.

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Music Sample Description:

Weaving – Allows women to have sharing circles. What is said in the circle is left in the circle.

Tonga Women are Teams, shown through intergenerational support.

Women worked as teams only, supporting, working and weaving.

Weaving has a double meaning – weaving baskets – weaving in the water to catch fish.

You needed to be a team! We should take this advice worldwide, it’s the only way we overcome the titans.

Flute – We mirror this experience through weaving, webbing and beading in Canada. Through Unity we have a new harmony – breaks in track – it all comes together. Zubo is a Tonga name – Critical info for this tribes’ subsistence.

Used the genre Breaks, as more of a chain link song, the beat down, dipping baskets into the water, in uniform, in parts and together. The kicks, snare, juggling beats, mirrors the bending, lifting, carrying and repeat when fishing.

The Flute – We weave together throughout the world, you are never alone.

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In purchasing the Album “Radio Remixes Voices of Binga”, you’ll support the healing arts of DJ Kwe and the work of women for women across the globe. From the online sales, 50% of proceed go to project work with women in Binga via Zubo Trust and Basilwizi Trust.

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Download the Press Release for “Radio Remixes Voices of Binga”

pictures from Zubo’s Women’s Forum in Chinonge, from International Women’s Day in Binga 2016 and “Radio Remixes Voices of Binga” poster with Donna and Matron at Zubo office in Binga

CIRCE’s feast for ears and eyes

2016/01/07

 

Anna Stereopoulou, Athens’ composer and founder of CIRCE the Black Cut project has published a richly beautiful AV report of CIRCE’s events in Athens, 19 – 22 December 2015.  

The exhibitions, concerts, listening events and broadcasts were the celebratory Finale of an exciting joint journey which began in August 2015 with CIRCE’s call for remixes on the subject of “Bees” and radio continental drift’s call-out “The Women of the Great River”.

 

 

Here I just pull together a few AV quotes from Anna’s report for you as a teaser to go on your own stroll across the resources of Anna’s pages. The two images include visual remixes to “The Women of the Great River” by Alma Tischler Wood and Agness Buya Yombwe.

The opening event on 19 December saw the release of the “CIRCE Family” Album 2015, called VOX [voice; out/ cry]. The Album gathers all remix-responses to the two sister-call-outs by 46 international artists of 15 countries in 28 tracks to One Voice “VOX” (as Anna’s subtitle poignantly suggests).

 

 

VOX invites us on an adventurous journey of listening in which Bees and BaTonga Women will be our guides. As they sing of the micro-cosmos, which is home to them, they allow us unknown glimpses of Cosmos at large and surprising, sometimes painfully familiar perspectives on our-selves and, “our” “World”.

 

 

Remixes are natural; will say, our audio remixes only echo the movements of Nature as it lives, breathes, survives, acts and communicates in ever new remixes of it’s resources – given “We”/ “Man”/ “the human animal” doesn’t grossly interfere in the Cosmos (=order)…

Lisa Greenaway’s remix of the “CIRCE Family” Album VOX gives another beautiful resonance space to the breath of “natural remix”…

 

 

Listening recommended !

Passing on stories… in remix

2015/12/16

“It’s not just as if everyone is blowing their horns at any time; there’s a pattern and you can hear the pattern going and coming…

…one song for example is about a blind man, who went to Hwange in the year of hunger; he worked very hard and did very well and people got jealous of him, put poison in his beer and he died… – that’s the background story – even the small kids know the story…; but the lyrics are, ‘he drank the beer and he died’…

How’s this for passing on stories…?!

Penny Yon

 

 

Fascinated by the ways of passing on stories in lyrics, music and festivals in the BaTonga culture, three of the contributors to “The Women of the Great River” home in on Penny Yon’s and Esnart Mweemba’s descriptions of Tonga Music in clips 39 – 43 of the call-out playlist: The London-based painter, Alma Tischler Wood; the radio DJ and graphic artist, Terry Humphrey aka Trunkstore Arts, also from London; and the Austrian sound- and radio engineer and stage manager, Marcus C. Diess aka “Macussi” (his Tonga name).

 

'he drank the beer and he died" , painting/ digital print by Alma Tischler Wood

 

“he drank the beer and he died” – title of Alma Tischler Wood’s visual remix and, the lyrics of a Tonga song which Penny Yon introduces to us in clip 43 of the call-out playlist.

Alma Tischler Wood writes about her contribution:

‘I created digitally a pattern on the computer whilst listening to THE WOMEN OF THE GREAT RIVER (2) by radio continental drift. I was particularly impressed and amused by the subtle layers and rhythms of No. 43, Penny Yon’s Passing on Stories (…) I will create a painting (perhaps a series of paintings) of the pattern you can see on screen.’

A lyrics like “he drank the beer and he died” would be accompanied by a serial type of music, audio patterns as Penny Yon describes it, whereby drums beat the rhythm and the horns are each playing one note only and yet joining together in a musical pattern and composition – while the players would be at once dancing, sometimes running around, and the whole community being in motion…

A sample of BaTonga “Ngoma bontibe” music can be found on the Mulonga webpage (a composition by Siankwede Bokotela Mudenda; lyrics in ChiTonga/ English on the page, recorded in Siachilaba 1997, performed by the Simonga group); listen here

 

Lwiindi - photo M.C.Diess 2013

 

 

"BASKET" painting by Alma Tischler Wood

 

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

Alma’s abstract composition seems to me working in a very similar way and manner. A pattern of same-size triangles in shades of grey tones (let’s say, the drums, “bontibe”) and primary colours (say, the horns, “nyele”) create music in motion before the eye. The triangle, by the way, is a sign and symbol common to many cultures on the continent and often used in decorative patterns such as on drums or on fabrics. The triangle stands for stability and balance.

 

Lwiindi_Speakers_cut - photo Marcus C Diess

 

 

The radio DJ and graphic artist, Terry Humphrey aka Trunkstore Arts in London created “Storyboard” (0:36) in contribution to “The Women of the Great River”. “Rapid listening and editing response,” Terry writes about his remix. The all-vocal piece could well function as a pattern, or a loop for a music, and dance – as it mainly draws on Esnarth’s chant from the Budima Ceremony which she sing as an example while telling about Budima. The piece also includes vocals from Penny Yon, Linda Mudimba, and Janet Mwiinde.

 

Budima - photo Basilwizi Bamulonga

 

Austrian sound- and radio engineer Marcus C. Diess created an intriguing musical encounter of women’s vocals from the call-out playlist and ambient recordings from the Lwiindi Festival, which “Macussi” (his Tonga name!) recorded on his visits to the Tonga community of Sinazongwe, Zambia in 2007 and 2013. In fact, Macussi’s skills were crucial in the establishment (2007) and technical updating (2013) of Zongwe Community Radio, as he was part of a team of community-radio-activists from Austria assisting Zongwe community in these tasks. Hear a broadcast by the station from 2007 about Lwiindi Ceremony.

 

 

Macussi aka Marcus C. Diess writes about his contribution:

“Recordings from my visits in Sinazongwe 2007 and 2013 (the Lwiindi Festival), Downloads from Continental drift . Hope Masike plays the Mbira Loops, the violine is played by Tony Stricker. Both live recorded in Bad Ischl 2014 by myself. Samples of a Kalimba played by me.”   Vocals from the call-out playlist include Penny Yon, Linda Mudimba, Janet Mwiinde, Agness Buya Yombwe, Esnart Mweemba, Barbara Mudimba and Viola Mwembe.

Do watch Macussi’s documentary to learn more about Zongwe Community Radio and the Lwiindi Festival of the Zambian Tonga in Sinasongwe. The first half of the film tells the story of Zongwe Community Radio; the second half, about the Lwiindi festival:

 

 

The film beautifully relates the BaTonga ritual during Lwiindi to go out on a boat on Lake Kariba and fetch water above the ancient Shines of the ancestors – now at the bottom of the lake. The women then carry the water in procession, accompanied by all the musicians with their drums, rattles and horns to the current Shines of the Chiefs male and female ancestors and share the water – together with locally brewed beer over the sacred burial grounds.

“The Tonga lost their land with the coming of Kariba but they have managed to retain much of their rich cultural heritage. The major threat has been the coming of some missions which preach that ngoma bontibe is of the devil. If these missionaries are to get their way and the Valley tonga are to stop performing their music, the Valley Tonga will finally have had everything stripped from them – even their unique cultural identity.”

For more about Tonga music, you may read the articles on the website of “Kunzwana”. I highly recommend the article by Keith Goddard “One man one note” from which the above quote is taken.


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