Posts Tagged ‘human rights’

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

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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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Rethinking Tradition

2017/11/29

How can communities be strengthened and tradition be interpreted in a way that contributes to a sustainable perspective for the future? What is the connection between traditional communities in Latin America, Africa and Asia and small villages in Europe? What can the global North learn from the global South? How can territories be defended? And how can the livelihood of rural areas be sustained?…”

In June 2017, I contributed with a workshop to an international colloquium on traditional peoples and communities, entitled “Traditionally Sustainablewhich set out to pursue these questions. My workshop was entitled “The river belongs to the Tonga people” and was based on my experiences among the Tonga people in Binga, Zimbabwe (during last year’s radio project with the women of Zubo Trust in particular).

Read the workshop log of “The river belongs to the Tonga people”

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During my time in Binga, I learned about the history and culture of the Tonga people from the women I worked with. The title of my workshop is a quote from the Tonga Anthem which I recorded in 2012, my first stay in Binga. The text of the Anthem goes: “The river belongs to the Tonga people. The river has fish and crocodile. Our Ancestors are crying…”. The award-winning aboriginal artist Crystal DJ Kwe Favel created a music album of dance tracks based on the Binga recordings. DJ Kwe belongs to the indigenous communities of BC Canada. “Tonga Anthem Remix” is the first track of the bespoke online Album “Radio Remixes Voices of Binga”. DJ Kwe’s music bridges indigenous teachings across continents in dance rhythms.

It was the first time that the colloquium took place in Germany; since 2009, four previous sessions had been taking place in Brazil. Representatives of communities, academia and development organisations from four continents debated in three languages over four days on opportunities of sustainability for Traditional communities and, the input of diverse knowledge for a sustainable development such communities may hold on offer for the global community at large. A joint declaration was issues, published as the “Hofgeismar Agenda“.

Contributions from Nigeria and Cameroon

Following the conference “Traditionally Sustainable” in Hofgeismar, a delegation of contributors from Brazil are guests of FUgE (Forum for Justice, Environment and Development) in Hamm. They meet the “Heimatverein Heessen” and give a talk at FUgE Fairtrade Shop in the evening. With members of the “Heimatverein”, they visit the chapel of St. Anna. Analia A. da Silva performs a traditional prayer. Dr Aderval Costa adds a prayer to Virgin Mary in Latin.

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an excerpt from the Hofgeismar Agenda

Traditional peoples and communities are the most important guarantors of the world ́s diversity. They represent more than 90% of diversity in different dimensions as

  •   their social relationships
  •   their relationships with nature
  •   their languages
  •   their ethnicities
  •   their religious and spiritual systems
  •   their knowledge about biodiversity
  •   their capacities on agricultural diversity
  •   and further aspects of diversity.
  • Traditional peoples and communities are the most important heritage of humankind.

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