There are only a few weeks left until our departure. We are in the middle of “inhaling” all sorts of information, references as well as stories and anecdotes out there on Tonga Culture, on historical and contemporary facts about Zimbabwe and the people we are going to meet in a very near future. Running through, summarizing and expanding long lists of sources which give as an insight in what we might face and help us to prepare for a journey which leads us to Siachilaba, Binga, Bulawayo, Harare (ZIM) and a for a few days to Johannesburg (RSA).
“We see cultural expression and exchange as the most authentic way to communicate the common cause and the cultural diversity existing in our different hemispheres.” – part of the mission statement from Austria Zimbabwe Friendship Association (argezim).
Its more than 20 years ARGEZIM is occupied in maintaining a respectful, interacting exchange between Southern Africa and Austria. It was ARGEZIMs’ project Music on the Move which lead to a first co-operation between ARGEZIM and Time’s Up in 2009. Ever since them we kept contact, trying to find interesting opportunities for working together again. 2013 it became obvious – ARGEZIM’s concentration on “resilient stories”, told through Tonga-people on both sides of the Zambezi River blends in very well into some of our spheres of interest within Future Fabulators.
The TONGA – the third largest language group of Zimbabwe – were dislocated in the late 1950s. The then still white government built the vast Lake Kariba dam. The effects of this construction displaced and dispersed the Tonga and decimated Tonga Culture inhabiting the Zambezi Valley. Their conditions of life changed radically. Having been fishing experts so far, they had not even access to the river anymore. Having being used to cultivate moist, fertile land, they had to face drought stricken semi-desert. Being a minority in Zimbabwe didn’t make anything easier – rather the contrary.
According to Danisa Mudimba and Mrs Cumunzala Tonga music has become a vehicle for celebrating how they have overcome the mentioned conditions. ARGEZIM (as one of their activities) investigates the strength of Tonga Music since years. One of the outcomes has been the above mentioned project “Music on the move”. Peter Kuthan, as one of the main organizers of ARGEZIM, once described (if I remember right) their music as stories to us, as small, self-contained worlds the Tonga-musicians are shaping while they are performing.
Assuming that Time’s Up will be able to comprehend a Tonga culture within a single project would be highly presumptuous. The only thing we can and will try is to extract single stories, to collect individual points of views (again referring to Peter, small worlds) and to integrate them, maybe we even can call it “using” them for our inspections of possible futures, influenced through a group of people showing a great deal in being both accommodable and resilient.