Posts Tagged ‘indigenous knowledge’

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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Chiefteness Mwenda – as women in Africa we carry a huge responsibility

2019/03/31

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Normally in Tonga culture, they don’t give the position to women…

Trained as a nurse, and a leprosy controller in her district, Mrs Kalichi didn’t have plans leaving her job and ordinary family life. The male folk among the royal family refused to take up the vacant position of the chief – why should they leave their job in town for some “backward stuff” in the remote rural areas of Chikankata Zambia…?!

It’s not interesting, my sister…

Eli Mwiinga Namazuminana Kalichi became Chiefteness Mwenda of Chikankata in 2006. In this interview, she unravels for us why she took the step that her brothers refused, and what it meant for her life to take up the traditional leadership position as a woman, and become the first ever Chiefteness in Southern Province… Today, Chiefteness Mwenda is Deputy Chair of the house of Chiefs; and with my questions, I encouraged her to tell us a little more about the House and its 10% female members.

 

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As women, we have huge responsibility towards all community…

Chiefteness Mwenda feels deep empathy for the women and girls in her district and sees her responsibility as a female leader in taking steps to change the plight of women’s lives for the better.

 

Belonging comes natural with the sound of the drums from the Valley…

Chiefteness Mwenda was a baby girl of three at the time of the forced removal; but her father came from the valley, and the memory of the forced removal and resettlement of the Tonga people and, of the Tonga culture and tradition was very much present in the family when Eli Mwiinga was growing up.

 

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Twalumba loko; special thanks to Sharon Monga for brokering the opportunity to record this interview with Chiefteness Mwenda and for accompanying me on the journey to her native Chikankata.

 

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Gogo – an ancient voice of the future

2019/03/28

 

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Thembi Ngwabi prefers to be called Gogo; ugogo meaning “granny, grandmother” in Ndebele. Even in 2012, when we recorded our first interview at Amakhosi Cultural Centre, the title of the elder and, an ancestral calling was already with Thembi. In 2013, I found her just relocated to the Lupane bush, in search of a realisation for her calling, and with a programme of cultural dance for local women and children at hand. We documented also this encounter with recordings.

The rain rituals have taken over my life…

In the present recording from October 2018 made at CoCont (Cont’s place) in Lupane, you may listen to the story of a demanding calling in Ugogo’s own words and voice. She describes her transformation from a young creative woman grown up in town (Bulawayo), a dancer, bass-guitarist, director of plays and films and of the Amakhosi Performing Arts Academy to a rapidly-aged, traditional rain-dancer in the Lupane bushland who follows spiritual instructions to build a new rain-making shrine which, as she has is linked straight to the Njelele shrine…

Almost everyone in Binga knows Maalila…

I ask Gogo in particular to tell us about her recent research in Binga. She had discovered that the geographically and historically closest rain-maker to her area in Lupane had lived in Binga. They went for a two-weeks research to Binga, and got to know the story of Maalila. He used to perform rain-making rituals at Binga’s hot springs until the Zimbabwe government and National Parks claimed the land as private property. Based on Gogo’s research, a thirteen-episode TV series about Maalila was developed and produced in Binga.

We need to go back to where we lost ourselves…

I also encourage Gogo to talk about her role as a woman in local culture and a woman leader of a new spiritual centre. I’m interested in Gogo’s contemporary open-mind now joint by an ancient voice; and curious about what I hear as a balance between a revival of culture and a celebration of diversity. Gogo ends the interview on a strong call and vision for her people… “we are fake… we don’t know what we are doing… we need to go back to where we lost ourselves…then, we can move on…”

Ugogo and her girl apprentice perform a traditional rain-making song.

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I felt shy photographing Ugogo… thus the pictures show mainly the dry Lupane bushland… and the trail of what was Cecil Rhodes’ dead-straight road through the bush….

It’s Women’s Turn

2017/12/23

Crystal DJKwe Favel turn-table and Zubo women Ilala bag copy

One of my favourite pictures I came across in 2017!

You are looking at a bag woven from Ilala Palm by Zubo Trust women in Binga Zimbabwe on the “work bench” of spiritual turn-tablelist Crystal Favel aka DJKwe in BC Canada…

Encounters of women’s work and vision can extend across history in to the present moment and join distant cultures anew as ancient relations… once Binga Women used to weave their patterns in traditional bead-work; when beads become unavailable or unaffordable, their creativity didn’t stop there, but they transferred the old patterns of Tonga bead-costumes in to their basket-weaving… Zubo women didn’t stop there with their art but found new form in to which to weave their Ilala: hand-bags, laptop-bags and more… Crystal DJKwe Favel joins the round of women’s wisdom on cultural continuity in change, adds beat to knowledge and lets it/ us dance… from beats to beads and baskets to hand-bags and back… in “Radio Remixes Voices of Binga” :

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.

Twalumba loko ! Thank you for listening ! Thank you for you support !

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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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

Zubo Women Audio Collection 2016

2017/03/08

Zubo Staff and CBFs

For International Women’s Day 2017, joining women’s celebrations around the world, Zubo Trust and radio continental drift are proudly launching “Women documenting Women Stories”, an audio collection of more then 50 recordings produced by Zubo women, in particular the six community-based facilitators of Zubo’s Women Forums in Sikalenge (Lucia Munenge), Siachilaba (Julia Mumpande), Chinonge (Eunice Mwinde), Kariyangwe (Regina Munkuli), Manjolo (Margaret Munkuli) and Simatelele (Ottilia Tshuma).

Access the Archive

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The recordings are mainly in the indigenous language ChiTonga. We’ve made an effort adding introductions in English in the texts on the archive pages and sometimes the women even recorded summaries in English.

Follow our steps listening in situ on radio aporee sound maps

a Binga map in sound -Zubo Trust Binga 2017-01-02

With our recordings, we’d hope to reach out firstly to ChiTonga speaking communities, both sides of Lake Kariba or elsewhere, and especially to our sistaz, old and young. We’d wish that the present project and its audio collection may become, in time, just a beginning of local audio = listening research among the BaTonga women. There are so many stories, so much knowledge and wisdom among the women still waiting to be found, investigated and documented…

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We hope that listeners from further afield will also enjoy our recordings and, in listening, enjoy following us into our communities, culture and every-day lives. We’d wish that the publication of the collection will encourage organisations and communities, locally and internationally to engage in similar activities of collective research; and, that we may hear from you and your experiences… you are most welcome contacting us or joining the conversation on FB.

Thank you for listening!

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“Encouraging other women to speak out…!” Caven Mugande interviews Margaret Munkuli about her experience and how she felt making interview recordings in her own Manjolo community. Mugande is Zubo Trust Project Officer; Margaret is one of the six women facilitating local Women’s Forums who were taking part in the audio media training.

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.


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