Kunstradio presents a new work by radio continental drift aka Claudia Wegener, based on recordings by women in the Zambezi valley in the border region of Zimbabwe and Zambia. On the Zambian side of the Zambezi river, a Community radio station was set up (with the support of Austrian radio activists from Linz and Salzburg); for the divided Tonga people Zongwe FM is a means of communication across the river, and for the women it is a possibility to make their voices heard.
STATEMENT BY RADIO CONTINENTAL DRIFT
In 2016, I reached Binga about end of April, just in time to witness and document the first ever celebration of International Women’s Day in Binga Centre. When I noted surprise about the date, I was given the following explanation: International Women’s Day was celebrated as by international agreement on 8th March in the capital Harare after which, celebrations would move on, out to the peripheries, across the provinces of the entire country and into the rural areas… until, finally…
We are in the border regions of Zimbabwe and Zambia; ancestral land of the Tonga people who lived here joined and divided by their river since long; since 1958, divided by Lake Kariba and Nationality.
“...the river belongs to the Tonga people/ the river has fish and crocodile/ our ancestors are crying...” (excerpt Tonga Anthem)
“Mwayusa bieni,” hallo, good day! This is the place where we are talking from when our words tickle the ears of global listeners. Women of the Zambezi valley have a story to tell. They have made many of the recordings and first broadcasts. They are the protagonists and the directors of their audio documents. They take us by the hand (or, the ear) to daily life in the homesteads and to the work places of women in the rural areas. “Women document women stories” was the title of our oral history project with Zubo Trust. “radio” was not mentioned (but in the long play project description). It is a guarded national territory and a potentially sticky issue (not only in Zimbabwe); and not least, if it comes to “the centre” from the people “of the peripheries”.
Did you ever want to learn some of the secrets of the famous Tonga basket weaving…? Well, listen up, you are going to sit with the weavers and learn to weave malala…
You’ll learn a bit of ChiTonga too in the process, because that’s the language we talk and sing both sides of the Zambezi Valley. Banakazi means women; balumi men. Malala is the palm leave used for weaving. A Zubo is a basket for fishing used by Tonga women when the Zambezi was still a stream in this area. Bbindawuko banakazi means business women.
The story the women of the Valley have to tell is no less a sticky issue, up and down the Zambezi and across the world… women self-empowerment, women economic empowerment through unity and team work. You’ll witness live as they talk to their Zambian sisters, the Bbindawuko Banakazi, registered name of the first women fishing cooperative on the lake. Their women-friendly kapenta rig is called Zubo.
Ngazi yamano means store house of knowledge; it is a name for Zongwe FM station in Sinazongwe Zambia. Zongwe FM was born in Zimbabwe more than ten years ago from the vision of a radio for the people both sides of the valley. Until today and despite many efforts, radio waves have not yet reached the valley people at large to bridge what divides. The women’s audio and radio recordings have gone around the lake; with the “news” of women self-empowerment, they went across the water, to the other side and even, across the world. Slow broadcast is radio too. The stories of the women have (been) zipped out of HD, CD and online archives into the everyday somewhere, boiled like malala in the heads of radio artists and audio activists until they are soft and coloured, ready for audio-weaving. Twined in rhythm, they return as surprisingly patterned sonic teachings and radio gifts, tickle the mind and make it and us dance.
“...there’s a pattern, and you can hear the pattern going and coming...”!
radio continental drift has accompanied the women in their journey of audio and radio self-empowerment; and has listened to the weavers for inspiration on how to interlace audio and radio threads from the archives. According to what methods and measures could we cut or slice sonic matter and radio streams for weaving storylines inside out in a circle or helix manner; adding audio “pins” or warp inserts where required to increase the diameter smoothly in a patterned flow of sounds, words and voices…?
Here’s our radio-basket, from Zambezia* for global broadcast….
Twalumba loko kutuswiilila! Thank you for listening!
Zambezians* in radio solidarity:
Abbigal Muleya Mumpande, Alan Dunn, Anna Stereopoulou, Barnaby Spigel, Bbindawuko Banakazi Coop with chairlady Cecilia, Budima musicians, Bulemu Mutale, Caven Mugande, Chiefteness Mwenda, Chiza Mwinde, Claudia Wegener aka Mutinta Mukuwa, Cleopatra Nchite, Crystal DJ Kwe Favel, Danisa Mudimba, Diana Mwemba, disquettei?s, Donor Ncube, Dorothy Nosiko Mundia, Eunice Mwinde and her grandmother (banene), Esnart Mweemba, Felicity Ford, Feralmind, Godsglory JibrilEllams, Gogo aka Thembi Ngwabi, James Teelela, Kasimbi-ka-malaiti, Kennedy Kambole, Labecca Munkuli, Lisa Greenaway aka DJ Lapkat, Lucia Munenge and banene Ester, Luyando Muyalali and Janet Mwiinde, Lydia Banda Ndeti, Macdonald Chiemezie Nwokeji, Margaret Munkuli and her mother, Mario Friedwagner, Mariya Ntandiyana, Matron Muleya, Meira Asher, Monica Sianbunkululu aka DJ Mo, Monga Sharon, Mulenga Kapwepwe, Mweezya and Mweeka Women Clubs, Natasha, Nelico Mweetwa, Niki Matita, Nonhlanhla Mathe, Notani Munkuli, Patience Kabuku aka DJ Petty Young, Patricia Viencent aka NND, Penny Yon, Pupils of Damba Primary, Rosemary Cumanzala, Simatelele Women’s Forum, Simudenda Bertha, Soli Tii, Terence Humphrey aka Trunkstore Arts, Tom Miller aka Comrade Squelch, Tonsodba Tshuma, Tusumpuke Saving Group and Nsenga Women’s Club, Tuligwazye Women, Valerie Vivancos, Valerio Orlandini, Viola Mwemba and Barbara Mudimba, Virginia Mwembe, weavers at Bunsiwa and Chinonge, Yvonne Chipo Makopa, Zubo Trust, Basilwizi Trust, Zongwe FM, i.a.
*the “Zambezians” („MaZambezi“) was a derogatory name for the Tonga people in Southern Rhodesia at the time after their forced resettlement; the name “Zambezia” for this area can be traced back to Victorian times
Find out more about Zongwe FM and their efforts to build a radio bridge:
The musician Wolfgang Fadi Dorninger, photographer Petra Moser (Radio FRO) and Peter Kuthan (ARGE Zimbabwe) have visited Zongwe FM in July 2019: