“…The River is for the Tonga people.
The river has fish and crocodiles…
Our ancestors are ‘crying’…”
The above lines came via a quick text message from Michito Veronika, Zubo Trust’s communications officer, currently in the Netherlands, completing her MA dissertation. I had sent her the link to a recording asking whether the song following the Zimbabwe National Anthem was perhaps a kind of Tonga Anthem. “…oooh very nice. you have just made me miss home…,” Michito wrote and added the lines above in translation.
Listen to the recording here:
“The Tonga lost their land with the coming of Kariba but they have managed to retain much of their rich cultural heritage…”
Keith Goddard writes in his article “one man one note” (2005)
The recording of the Tonga Anthem was made in 2012, when I accompanied members of Basilwizi Trust to an award ceremony at Damba Primary School. Damba is a tiny village, off the main road, in the bush-land near Manjolo.
Together with Sihle Ndlovu, we recorded a number of interviews with women, in English and in ChiTonga and documented almost the entire award ceremony in Damba with recordings. Some clips from that day’s interviews are included in the call-out playlist such as by the young reserve teacher Florence Munsaka, and a Tonga song by Mary Munsaka, mother of one of the pupils.
Some soundscape recordings from the award ceremony are connected to the All Africa Sound Map like this Welcome Song by the Pupils of Damba to the arriving guests
One of our contributors, the DJ Audio Storyteller, Crystal DJ Kwe Favel deeply identified with the stories, songs, sounds and voices she heard from the “The Women of the Great River”. Starting with the call-out playlist, DJ Kwe got on a journey of listening across many of the footage recordings from radio continental drift’s 2012 visit to Binga… a journey of listening which is still continuing as we speak and, will lead, so DJ Kwe, to an entire Album of her music dedicated to the Voices of Binga she heard…
The first track of her forthcoming Album however, Crystal DJ Kwe Favel is releasing already, here and now, contributing it as free-for download to “The Women of the Great River” call-out and CIRCE The Black Cut project/ Family Album. In her remix-contribution, DJ Kwe included two of the soundscape recordings of the Damba Award Ceremony, the Welcome Song of the Damba Pupils to arriving guests and, the BaTonga Anthem.
DJ Kwe (pronounced DJ Kway – means DJ Woman) is an Aboriginal Woman from the Cree & Metis Nation of Squamish, British Columbia, Canada.
Describing the samples used in the track, DJ Kwe writes:
- Flutes – Indigenous to Native Canada/Turtle Island – Voices of our People – Sharing the Love
- Frogs – symbol of transformation – recorded here on Native land. Frogs are Elders. Frogs live the balance between two worlds that often collide.
- Damba Primary School Students – Welcome/Greeting Song – Special Tonga Anthem
- Indigenous Girl Trill – Call for audio warriors to unite.
- Tribal Drums – A common journey we share beyond the physical land.
- House Beats – Electronica – a connection, a platform, a foundation to greet the world.
- Synths – Inspire the world, together! Represents strength and power of positivity through nations across Mother Earth.
DJ Kwe writes about her contribution and motivation of her music:
“Our Native community is resilient; we have overcome slavery, displacement and documented genocide. It is in our blood to share our stories and oral tradition through audio. That is why it’s very important to introduce digital audio storytelling as another method to preserve our traditional stories and oral traditions. As we rebuild our family structures and heal from the generations of abuse, we are reconnecting through the use of modern tools. It is my goal to repair the hearts of my community through my music and writing. This is a motivational movement through electronica to reach for the stars, regardless of race.”
The Album will be released on DJ Kwe’s own record label, Wax-Warriors-Records, in March 2016.
“The People of the Great River”: 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 Trust – Tonga OnAir – Austrian Zimbabwe Friendship Association