Posts Tagged ‘Ilala basket weaving’

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

Zubo Docu workshop Women Stories8

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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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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

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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


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