#cultureicons feature: Tamba Africa Circus

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The second feature in our #cultureicons recognition is Tamba Africa!

Tamba Africa is Zimbabwe’s first and only social circus movement established to empower talented yet disadvantaged youth through circus arts, performance and African dance theatre. This approach is as an alternative intervention method for positively transforming and developing marginalized communities in the country. The circus troupe is composed of young female and male artists of mixed ability (disabled and non-disabled) including musicians, acrobats, jugglers, contortionist, tumblers, and traditional African as well as contemporary dancers. These talented performers are recruited from a diversity of locations, informal settlements and ghettos where they are engaging and transforming the communities they represent.

Tamba Africa Circus’ philosophy is deeply rooted in the tradition of storytelling and folklore. To foster community inclusion and engagement, the group creates productions for audiences young and old. Each storyline incorporates visual and audio influences from various cultures across the continent. The combined artistry of the performers offers a unique experience of circus art while collectively developing careers as circus artists. We love to see it.

We asked the group what their pan-African vision is and this is what they shared:

Tamba Africa Circus believes that the spirit of Hunhu/Ubuntu means leaving no one behind. As a social circus movement, our pan-African vision is to use creative African cultural heritage for the inclusion, education and empowerment of the most vulnerable young people living in the margins of our societies.

The 25 May Movement recognises the contributions of Tamba Africa Circus to culture.


Follow Tamba Africa Circus:

Introducing – Kquesol: DJ, Producer

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In case you hadn’t noticed amidst the global health pandemic we’re facing, the month is May! This means that the 25 May Movement along with the entire African continent is recognising a united vision for prosperity for our people. As we like to do best, we have dedicated this month to celebrating our #culturalicons from near and far. To start us off, we introduce Kquesol!

Self-dubbed the Afrotech Alchemist, Kenneth Ntuli who is otherwise known as KqueSol is a seasoned Dj/Producer who started his musical journey at the Soul Candi Institute of Music in 2012. Hailing from Mpumalanga, South Africa, his discography shows off his impeccable ability to fuse tribal house music with soulful deep house. The multi-faceted musician has a pocket full of surprises including an elaborate career in chemical engineering, an occupation he pursues when he is off the desks.

KqueSol has worked with industry giants such as Vinny Da Vince, Christos, Fistaz Mixwell, Atjazz and Lulo Café. This accumulation of sounds continues to propel him to experiment more with the genre. He is the hitmaker behind records such as Afrikan Lesson, Better Days and most recently Bayede ft. Lizwi. For Bayede, Kquesol found inspiration in African ethnomusicology as well as ancestral melodies and vocals. This seems to be a growing sonic culture known in the industry as Afrotech. The single has been officially available on all music platforms since 21 February 2020.

More here:

Here at the 25 May Movement, there are three core principles that drive our work. The first is pan-Africanism: We believe in the people, prosperity and unity of the African continent. The second is creativity: we imagine, innovate and invent through the power in our culture, heritage, and creative practices. Thirdly, we are propelled by meaningful work: we pay attention to the world around us and work towards the equality and dignity of people in our community. It is always important for us to find out what values move our cultural icons. We asked Kquesol what his pan-African vision is. This was his response:

Africa is a diverse continent that is rich in its history and heritage. When I produced the song Bayede, I wanted to highlight African pride through the Afrotech genre which is a fusion of Tribal, Deep and Soulful House music. The wide array of musical sounds and practices represent the multifaceted nations and regions across Africa.  My role as a musician is to present an authentic sound that is distinct from any other genre of music. Bayede is a song that praises God in the Zulu language. This is important to me as an artist because we need to remind ourselves of our African roots despite the popular culture movement. I am a proud Ndebele man and it is our responsibility as Africans to introduce the world to these indigenous sounds to inspire future generations to create art that celebrates the African diaspora.

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We are thrilled to witness the contributions of artists such as Kquesol to our collective efforts. We want to challenge you this month to tell us what your cultural legacy on the continent will be.


Support a cultural icon. Find KqueSol on social media:
Instagram: @kquesolTwitter: @KqueSolFacebook: @kquesol |  Youtube: KqueSol

To contact Kquesol with PR inquiries:

Katlego Selepe Maifadi | selepe@carve.africa | +27 78 429 6257

Celiwe Malinga | pr@carve.africa | +27 67 145 3310

Artist Spotlight: Munyaradzi Nyamarebvu

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Zimbabwe’s Munyaradzi Nyamarebvu performs entrancing and uplifting songs with ancient soul and modern spirit. Backed by the distinctive timbral qualities of a Zimbabwean mbira-based guitar alongside indigenous instruments such as hosho, marimba and “mbira dzevadzimu”, he draws his influences from Shona traditional folk rhythms. He has performed at Harare International Festival of the Arts, Unplugged Zimbabwe and Intwasa Festival in Bulawayo.

Munya’s music addresses the African philosophy of ubuntu and humanitarian issues. Munya possesses a distinct voice that resounds with defiant strength and profound tenderness. With international performance experience since 2014, his ethnomusic style continues to transcend through all barriers reaching diverse cultural audiences on the global stage. He is an affiliate of Pakare Paye Art Centre where he coordinates a “Play it For Pakare” art showcase platform. His “Ngatidanane” peace project continues to engage as a US Department of Arts and culture affiliate.

In 2014 and 2015, Munya embarked on a collaborative project with German band JAMARAM, accompanied by a CD release titled “HEAVY HEAVY” and tour under the project name Jamaram and The Acoustic Night Allstars. Munya Muzic was born out of masterclasses, jam sessions, share sessions, performances, residencies & workshops, together with a healthy dosage of culture & heritage arts fanaticism.

In 2016, Munya’s work was noticed by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) and he was featured in a profiling interview on BBC News and BBC World Service East Africa channels. Munyaradzi gave a memorable solo live performance at Pakare Paye Arts Centre dubbed “Live and Unplugged at Gokoro” which was recorded for the interview and later on re-released through his brand in a special DVD release.

DISCOGRAPHY:

2015 Heavy Heavy – Jamaram and Acoustic Night Allstars. Turban Records/KKBB publishers;

2017 One Beat Mixtape FSN/New York;

2018 Ngatidanane – Monolio Studios, ZW;

2019 Single/ My Sweet African Couscous – Monolio Studios.

Join us this Saturday (30 November) at the Zimbabwe German Society where Munya will be showcasing is music and sharing his experiences on the theme, Intercultural Encounters.

Subscribe to Munya’s Youtube channel or listen to his music on SoundCloud.

 

Artist Spotlight: Mangoma

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Photographed by Mgcini Nyoni

Othnell “Mangoma” Moyo is a Zimbabwean dancer, actor, musician and ethnomusicologist. Mangoma is known for making most of the instruments he uses. Having recorded two albums under the name Music According to Percussion (MAP), Mangoma has securely positioned himself as a leading force in the celebration and evolution of indigenous music in Zimbabwe and around the world.

Hailing from the Nguboyenja Township of Makokoba in Bulawayo and learning marimba and ngoma from his brother Osward and sister Rea, Mangoma pursued his passion and curiosity for music through his elders and his peers. His development into a skilled and highly-valued artist led him to perform and record with many Zimbabwean and international artists. He has now represented Zimbabwe in more than 30 countries, in over 400 venues and international festivals. He has participated in a number of international musical collaborations with artists from Norway, Austria, Sweden, Indonesia, Burkina Faso, France, India, Indonesia, to name a few.

In 2016 he was selected for the OneBeat (USA) programme, where he collaborated with artists from 17 countries, enriching his relationship with music by exposure to wider sonic cultures. When he is not performing, Mangoma teaches music and dance to prisoners at Harare Central Prison under Miracle Missions and directs Talent Explorer in Nguboyenja (TEN), an arts, sports and business event held annually in Nguboyenja, Bulawayo.  In addition to this, the multi-talented musician holds annual Zimbabwe Drummers Camp where he teaches rhythms, traditional songs and dances from his culture for free, as a way of preserving Bantu heritage. He has penned downed Zimbabwe traditional Rhythms and songs in his book called Zimbabwean Ngoma/iNgungu Rhythms and Songs Book which he shared what he has learned in the living tradition of Bulawayo Township Rhythms (ISBN 978-0-7974-9249-3)

Are you as impressed by Mangoma’s artistry as we are? Join us next week (30 November) at the Zimbabwe German Society where we are hosting him and other artists at the Afroplaylist Intercultural Encounters Event!

To book or contact Mangoma: phone +263774096269 or email othnellmangoma@gmail.com.

Find Mangoma on FacebookInstagram @othnell, Twitter @OthnellMoyo,  Sound Cloud, and YouTube.

Read more on his Music in Africa profile.

Five Lessons: Humbesa Hwedu Children’s Creative Arts Workshop

We kicked off 2019 with our first ever children’s creative arts workshop. Titled HUMBESA HWEDU, a Shona phrase that very loosely translates to “our seedhood” the workshop was intended to expose participants to the magic of creative arts and hopefully spark their potential and creative capacity. We collaborated with the World Leading Schools Association to execute a free program that would be worthwhile and enriching for children in Harare. Hosted in Glenview Area 8, the workshop encompassed three disciplines: art, drama and dance. We found ourselves working with some children who had not had the opportunity to explore these disciplines before. They approached each session with curiosity and excitement, and nothing is more rewarding for a facilitator. Here are five key lessons that we learnt ourselves over the course of the six days.

  1. Children are socially aware.

This was especially exciting for us to discover. As a facilitator, it’s easy to assume that the knowledge you want to impart is new and absolute. However, we found ourselves learning from the children, just as they were learning from us too. The social issues that some of them chose to explore spoke plenty about the life that they know. From issues of parenthood, gender roles, church politics and economics, the workshop participants demonstrated a wide understanding of the world around them. They incorporated different dramatic conventions in the drama modules such as the use of a narrator. Our biggest takeaway: “shanda nemaoka ako, kwete kuromba.” 

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2. Within the process of art-making is a space for personal transformation.

Although we already knew this, the workshop was a powerful reminder. Different art forms present us with a special opportunity to learn, grow and heal. We saw this in small, simple ways with some of the children. For many of them, they have grown up in difficult environments where they are exposed to vulgar language and (in our opinion, of course), inappropriate rhetoric. We found them creating a “safe place” for each other where only words of love and affirmation were encouraged. One of the participants, Anotida, commented that “tinofanira kufara tose”, which can translate to we should be happy together. Patricia, another participant told us, “ndakadzidza kubatsira vamwe”, another important lesson – helping those around you. This lesson can only be completed by some words of self-love that Natasha inspired us with: “usazvidzikisire pasi uchiti handigoni. Ita uchidzidzira.” Do not devalue yourself with the thought that you cannot do something. Learn as you go. 

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3.  The curriculum must be deliberate and thorough. 

This is fundamental. As teachers, we must ask ourselves what exactly it is we want to leave our students with. How do we ensure that our work is as impactful as we intend it to be? In addition, how do we measure this impact? We have to create strong, unconventional curricula that challenge perceptions and stimulate original thinking and creativity. We tried our best to do this. After all, how else would we stir within the children a deeper awareness of the psychosocial (and other) influences that govern their daily lives? For the 25 May Movement, it was especially important that the curriculum for the workshop encompassed all three of our values: pan-Africanism, creative process and meaningful work. It was also helpful for us to have confidence in our lesson plan in order to deliver it with conviction. 

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4. Children are excited to learn.

New as a concept may be, children will tackle it with an open mind and willing heart. Curiosity drives them. There is a yearning within children for knowledge, something they know deep down is power. More and more questions were asked each day as they enthusiastically set up the tables and chairs for their workshop. There wasn’t a day that facilitators arrived at the workshop venue before a group of children had already gathered. This made us excited to teach. 

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5. Parental consent and understanding are important.

Parents are stakeholders too. In fact, they determined whether or not their children would attend the full workshop. As this was not anything that they had been asked for before, the case for the participation of their children in this workshop needed to be defended – and defend it we did. Although some of the children were not free all the time because of varying reasons including family dynamics and household duties, they came as often as they could. Understanding this, we adopted a flexible schedule and established mutual agreement across parties. Some parents even came to the workshop venue to join their children or simply observe the activities they were doing. It was encouraging for us to see such support from families and were assured that there are people rallying behind our cause. 

And that’s that! We look forward to hosting a similar workshop in the future. We would love to collaborate with different groups and look forward to receiving your feedback. Forward on.

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An Open Letter from Tanatsei Gambura

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To my “art is dispensable” friends and foes:

Your assertions have long been stifling to those of us whose job on this planet is to create the lives and societies that we want to live in, the lives and societies that you want to live in. Many a time, you remark that creative arts are hobbies, that they are not essential for human survival and do not develop the modern world. However, human beings have never in history existed by mere survival, which is to say with food, water and shelter alone. In fact, it is the exact opposite of that reality that humanises us. Creativity, innovation and social understanding have been the defining factors in separating human beings from the rest of the animal kingdom. To claim that creative arts and culture are not essential for survival is to both erroneously say that humans exist to survive and that they can do so without the art and culture.

An artist myself, I have had disapproving word after word hurled at me for the path that my life is taking, especially because I am regarded an intellectual or an academic. I will clarify this once and for all: those two identities are not mutually exclusive and are, in fact, one identity. The foundation of creative arts is critical inquiry and the expression of selves through them. An artist like me, just like anyone else in the world, should have the freedom to decide and choose the path in life that is most fulfilling, without the burden of stigma, ignorant judgement, and secondary treatment.

We need to redefine how we quantify and qualify value. Too often, you criticise that which you know little of. Go out, engage and learn. Support the creative and cultural sector by paying artists without using the word “exposure”, funding arts initiatives, allowing your child to study theatre and consuming creative goods yourself. The arts are intellectually critical and socially imperative, politically rousing and economically viable. They examine the past, interrogate the present and craft a future.

Yours in faith,

Tanatsei Gambura.

5 Lessons – Dissecting the Urgency of Voice

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We congregated in Harare for an intimate seminal workshop, Dissecting the Urgency of Voice where we asked and answered questions about the significance of poetry and offered ideas about the role of digital media and pop culture in its evolution. The workshop which was moderated by poets Wadzanai Chiuriri (Black Pearl), Tanatsei Gambura and Tendekai “Madzitatiguru” Tati together with media practitioner Elliot “Twist” Tafira taught us 5 vital lessons about the craft:

  1.  A sense of identity is a sense of direction. 

This is as important for poets just as it is for other artists. Individuals need to know how to identify themselves so they know what to align themselves with. Think of it as one’s guiding principles or core values as an artist. Ask yourself, what sorts of things do I draw attention to with my work? Who are the consumers? What kinds of events/publications are suitable for me? Without answering these and other vital questions, you will be a stray ship rolling with the waves. A participant remarked that in the creative industry, “tinoshandiswa, tirikuitiswa” (loosely translates to we are being used) but this can largely be avoided if one has a strong sense of self. If you know yourself and take yourself seriously, the world will be forced to take you just as seriously. Own who and what you are whole. You are an urgent voice.

2. Art can, should and does pay. Know it.

It turns out that many emerging artists don’t even know that their art can be a commodity if they wish for it to be! What? Where this is a given for established artists, there are still others who are yet to dive into the exciting (rightfully theirs) world of being paid to do what they love. Well, now you know. Yes, you charge a price and issue and invoice and draw up a contract and set your own terms. Your product is just as valid and as valuable as any other. Artists should declare their own value and be confident in setting a price. Payment in “exposure” is a non-starter and is quite frankly degrading to accept unless, of course, you are being deliberate and looking for it. Otherwise, it is important for poets to come together and set a standard with regards to the issue of payment. Again, it’s about how seriously you take yourself.

3. We can’t live as compromisers and conformists.

Although by all means, we encourage that poets make money for their time, work and efforts, we strongly advise that we guard against swaying towards capitalist (yuck) tendencies. Poets are compromising integrity amongst other things for the sake of monetary gain, especially when it comes to gigs funded by huge corporates. Sometimes, money needs to be deleted from our heads because really, it should not be the reason that we do what we do. The art becomes about who has made a name and what they can be used by corporates for, no longer about the beauty of the craft itself. How will we ever grow as a community and impact the change we want to if our priorities are askew? Who doesn’t have bills to pay or a family to look after too? Take heed.

4. We need to talk offstage and offpaper too.

How ironic it is that us word-wielding warriors aren’t actually talking to each other. You know, talking – enjoying casual conversations amongst ourselves as both poets and simply as human beings. We are not connecting with each other and that is worrying. We are stewards of the wealth of words and we should look after each other and be sources of support. That can’t happen without us engaging in the conversations that need to happen. It is upon us to first collaborate with a vision then fund ourselves and our work. It belongs to us, and to look at each other with contempt is nothing short of silly. Where will the learning and growth happen if not in the cafes with a coffee, the living rooms on the couch, the combis on the way to slam jams? There is power in shared ideas, and most of that happens behind the scenes. Get behind the scenes and talk.

5. There is no such thing as too much noise. 

And truth be told, we are not making enough of it. It’s time to cultivate a culture of continuity, sustainability and permanence in our industry. Without making use of all the opportunities and platforms we have to share our work and bring people together, we may as well be quiet. Poets should also share and endorse each others’ poems and projects. After all, like we said, what are we without each other? We can’t expect to be recognised for our art or efforts instantly, but with due diligence and a presence that can be felt, we’ll be as influential as we want to be. Make noise, do the things to be done and trust the process.

 

 

 

6 Lessons – Colourism: A Conversation

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Colourism: A Conversation

The 25th of May, 2017, was filled with many firsts for The 25 May Movement. Not only did we celebrate our first birthday, we also set out to Chez Zandi Bistro to host our first ever 25 May Movement event.  As our goal is to educate young minds about Africa, we believe that the best way that we can continue to grow as Africans and to shed away the stereotypes that have plagued us for centuries is by speaking out. We needed to let young African minds voice their thoughts and come to understand who they are and why they are. We need to let young Africans tell the narrative. With that thought in mind, our Conversation Circle was born.

“Close to home…I loved it.” – Chido Ranganayi

“You’ve changed people’s hearts. I’m amazed.” –  Chenesai Mukora-Mangoma

6 Lessons we learned from Colourism: A Conversation:

  1. Tell the narrative

Wadzanai could not have been more right when she said that the only way we can truly change African minds is to “tell the narrative” – and more specifically our own narratives. As the conversation flowed and ideas bubbled to the surface, it became staggeringly evident that the reason that Colourism is not taken as seriously as it should be is because we do not have enough people that decide to tell their narratives. Are you going to tell yours?

 

  1. Change is an active process

It hadn’t really been obvious to many of us that although we were all pioneering for change – we hadn’t really done anything active in changing colourism. “It starts at home”, fashion designer, Chenesai emphasised. Small things such as actively reminding people of why there skin or hair is precious can go a long way. Think of it like the butterfly effect where small changes can have drastic effects – you can be the change that sets off a revolution.

  1. Colour is symbolic

Colour clearly means more than “you are too dark” or “you are too light” – it is directly linked to the social conflict that resulted from white supremacy. In Shona for example, the word dark is known as kusviba, a word that can also mean dirt, night or darkness. When a person is therefore referred to as dark, they are therefore associated with dirt. Whereas kutsvuka means the complete opposite. The lighter you are, the closer you are to “whiteness” or cleanliness and wealth. It seems that our labels are doing more harm than good.

 

  1. The Media plays a vital role in the way that we see ourselves

Because of the technological advancements in many African countries, more specifically Zimbabwe – more of us have access to social media and television, a lot of which is westerly dominated. This in turn has an adverse effect on the young African that is trying to find themselves in the midst of a world where they are misrepresented or not represented at all. “I feel like I can’t imagine anything that isn’t white-washed” Tapiwa said, expressing her growing concern over the fact that many books, movies and music videos either have very few and minor cast dark skinned people . This wreaks havoc on an African’s self-esteem and so to change this we have to tell our narrative.

  1. it’s not about race vs race

Colourism is not a struggle between races, rather, it’s a struggle within a race where a certain complexion is deemed more favourable b the members of the race. If we can create colourism, we can erase it too.

  1. Loving oneself goes deeper than the individual

As Malcom X put it “you cannot hate Africa and not expect to hate yourself”. Only when you start loving your continent and your race can you start to love yourself – be proud to be identified as Zimbabwean or African.

 

It is our greatest pleasure to say that this conversation was more of a success than we ever believed possible. None of this could have been done without all the amazing people that attended the event so as The 25 May Movement; we would like to thank you dearly for our continued support.

Don’t forget to Tell The Narrative.

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