Kunzwana # 1 : First phase completed

Kunzwana # 1 : First phase completed. A quick review


by Peter, end of May 2014

Except for Werner who is still in Maputo most participants of our trans-cultural journey and collaboration have made it safely back home. Herewith the first phase of implementing the Kunzwana # 1 project has been successfully completed. On behalf of AZFA I would like to congratulate and thank you all for this great achievement especially the artists but also our partners and funders - in Zimbabwe, South Africa and Austria - who made it happen.

To summarize I recall the African proverb we have read in the departure hall at Joburg airport on our way to VicFalls four weeks ago: "If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together". Yes, we went far and together by listening to and respecting each other as laid out by Keith Goddard's 'Kunzwana' vision. It was no easy going, not at all. The risks taken were many and high as were the hurdles and conflicts encountered. Identities and proven art forms have been challenged, anxieties overcome and problems solved in a very collaborative and friendly way. After the successful start at HIFA we faced the sheer collapse of the South African leg of the tour, but we didn't give up and brought it to fruition with the most mesmerizing performance of Kunzwana # 1 so far. This is a great promise for the Austrian tour in July and we ensure our Zimbabwean friends again to compensate them here in Austria for the loss of income in South Africa.

The highlights and setbacks so far:

Due to deferrals because of other commitments and financial constraints it took almost two years to get the project started. “We recall here the initial inspiration to build on cutting-edge ideas and open-minded approach of Keith (Goddard) in explorations of traditional music and crossovers.” wrote Paul Brickhill, Pamberi Trust, in August 2012. The line up of artists participating and the whole concept has much changed in the process. The decision by Klaus Hollinetz - who was a key figure over years - to leave the project was another severe setback.

To start the journey with a visit to the village of Siachilaba / Binga and its cultural group Simonga proved once again the inspirational power and cultural resilience of the Tonga people deep in the Zambezi Valley but on highly contested grounds. Right at the start of Kunzwana # 1 the essential issues were brought up: who are we and where are we going as individuals, as society and as civilization? Pity that our Zim friends couldn't come along due to other commitments but we were glad that altogether (with Time's Up artists also) we took their Tales of Resilience along to promote cultural diversity and especially recognition for Tonga culture in the capital Harare.

Despite some hickups at the get-together and limited time allocated for the workshop the rehearsal phase at Zimbabwe College of Music went very well with the consensus achieved that Othnell Mangoma Moyo with his "wild" percussion style should join the group in South Africa and in Austria also.

The first public exposure at the performance on 1st May at HIFA's Global Stage was - despite poor and limited sound check - a very good start with an excited response from a packed crowd of some 400 people. The Opening of the Tales of Resilience exhibition at the National Gallery of Zimbabwe the next day provided for another well attended event and platform to take the story telling exercise - as physical narrative interface and music wise - to new levels and dimensions.

The concert at the Book Cafe on 3rd May met quite diverse reactions despite some positive feedback from the audience. The critical balance within the ensemble has been lost in favour of heavy African funky grooves and to the detriment of a more collaborative and experimental approach. Therefore the following discussion a few days later at the start of the South African leg in Melville was crucial to restore trust and confidence within the ensemble. Instead of asking for a musical director only a new direction as collective and balanced effort has been envisaged and eventually found.

The following concert at SABC studios on 6th May proved that the newly found approach worked well with a "mindblast" performance recorded despite the rather solemn spirit ("the funeral") of highly concentrated efforts under excellent sound and recording conditions.

The workshop with some members of the Youth Orchestra at MIAGI cultural center in Soweto on May 7th brought not only at least some glimpses of township life but also a joyful exchange and jamming with aspiring young musicians. It provided also for some insight in the fabric of experimental and abstract music.

The last concert of the tour at Moyo's Zoo lake restaurant on 9th May was - at least as far as attendance (and publicity?) was concerned - a complete disaster. The short time previously changed management has not only rendered the contract worthless but also compromised obviously the reputation of the restaurant to such extent that Kunzwana # 1 had the choice to cancel the performance or play for a handful clients and some friends only. The decision to pull it through was right since this was the last chance to rehearse and perform prior to the Austrian tour - and to party and celebrate. Indeed, it was not only a great party ("the wedding") but a great performance too, non stop, for nearly two hours.

Eventually Kunzwana # 1 has proved that it is determined to fly high against all odds.
Austria we are ready and coming up soon!

Your comments / additions / alterations / critics are most welcome.
Further preps for the Austrian tour to follow soon.

best wishes


Peter Kuthan

The Herald / ZIM: Zim, Austrian artistes on 'Kunzwana' tour
The Herald / ZIM: 'Kunzwana' to rock Book Cafe
Mail&Guardian / SA: Don't miss this: Kunzwana trans-cultural music collaboration

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5rG09UiwLyk at Siachilaba fish market / Tonga area
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RPuQZUUIOa0  Hautzinger-Duthoit-Puntigam at Amakhosi Cultural Center in Bulawayo
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x2mMUbIBrDY Kunzwana # 1 at HIFA 2014
more to come up from SABC studios and the "wedding party" at Moyo's

Kunzwana # 1 @ pntgm
inter.views/hope masike @ pntgm

The artists collaborating for the Tales of Resilience project are: Tina Auer, Tim Boykett and Andreas Mayrhofer from Time's Up (Austria). see http://www.timesup.org/ToR  (and read more in their travel blog http://talesofresilience.wordpress.com/)