By BRIAN HATYOKA -
MUSIC has continued to play an important role in communicating diverse messages on all aspects of life.
This is why Monze’s Radio Chikuni has continued using music to communicate various aspects of the Tonga culture and tradition.
On September 5, Radio Chikuni hosted the 14th All-Tonga Music Festival in Monze to celebrate promote and preserve the Tonga tradition and culture through art and music.
The festival attracted about 10,000 people and about 100 singing bands from various parts of Southern Province.
It was held under a Tonga theme known as Cakanza Bimbe Sikakonze Munaanizigwa which was all about encouraging the younger people to always learn something from the older generation.
Local residents also took advantage of the festival by selling different merchandise on the sidelines of the event within the arena.
Unlike traditional ceremonies such as Lwiindi which are mainly full of speeches, the All-Tonga Music Festival was full of dances and singing songs which teach people on the way of life.
The songs, which attracted laughter and clapping by the audience, talked about development, taboos, secrets for a happy marriage, unfaithful married couples, wisdom from elderly people, importance of farming and hard work.
Others were on how to grow up in a better way as a girl and a boy, importance of preserving the forests, evils of witchcraft and beer drinking as well as good eating habits among several other subjects.
The music categories were in the areas of guitar, kankobela, seesa, kalindula, kutwa, freestyle, kulengula, kweema, kuyabila, kalumbu, kalyaba, kukambilwa, bukonkoolo, kantimbwa, chigome, masabe, chikambekambe, chiyayaale and mantyaantya among others.
The 2014 All Tonga Music Festival organising publicity secretary Mweemba Nchimunya said this year’s event brought together various artists across Southern Province to celebrate, promote and preserve the Tonga culture through arts and music.
Ms Nchimunya said the aim of this year’s event was to blend the old and new music to ensure that the Tonga culture did not die.
“When you look at the Tonga culture, it has changed. As young generation, we can learn something from the old and carry it on.
“In our theme known as Cakanza Bimbe Sikakonze Munaanizigwa, we are saying one bird is very good at hunting and the other bird is good at learning and both birds do the hunting regardless of who is better than the other.
“In short, this year’s festival is about preserving the original culture and identity of the Tonga people,” Ms Nchimunya said.
She noted that a number of traditional dances and music were slowly dying and hence this year’s Festival was appropriate.
“In 2014, we are seeing more bands which are in the showcasing category and not in the competing category.
“We are saying what have we not given the young generation and that is the main focus of this year’s event and hence our theme for this year is all about building from the past,” Ms Nchimunya said.
She said the festival had brought an appreciation of the culture while men were seen doing what women were usually doing like Kutwa (pounding maize or groundnuts) aimed at promoting gender in homes.
“Every year we are bringing new ideas. We have tapes, CDs and DVDs which are aimed at preserving the Tonga culture.
Recently, Tusole Band from this festival was nominated for the Zambian music awards while another artist Rodrick Mungala was also nominated.
“Further, Enock Mbongwe performed in London and we are happy that our artists are being appreciated at national level,” Ms Nchimunya said.
She said Radio Chikuni was working closely with the National Arts Council (NAC) as well as artists like Sakala Brothers to improve the dress decorum for Southern Province based artistes.
“We want our artists to dress properly and present themselves properly so that they live up to people’s expectations.
“We have also been working with Zambia Tourism Board (ZTB) and they promised to take up the event to promote it locally and around the world,” Ms Nchimunya said.
ZTB tourism promotion manager Jocelyn Mutinta said the Music festival key in the promotion of domestic and foreign tourism.
“Our tradition and culture makes us different from the rest of Africa and such events are really important for us,” she said.Ms Mutinta said the Festival had not yet reached the market that it needed to attract and hence ZTB would come on board to promote the event.
“For example, we tried to check around the nearest town of Monze to see how the accommodation establishments are doing in terms of attracting domestic and foreign tourists in view of the Festival.
To our surprise, we found that there were many rooms were empty. We don’t think this festival can fail to draw a number of people across Zambia and abroad to fill up accommodation facilities in Monze,” Ms Mutinta said
She said the Tonga Music Festival was a sleeping giant that could attract many people in Zambia and beyond provided that it was well packaged as one of the tourism products in the country.
Ms Mutinta said tour operators in Zambia could pick up the event and package it it as one of their tourism products as they promote their activities.
“As ZTB, we will maximise the promotion of the event so that it is known countrywide as it is in line with our domestic tourism campaign.
“We think Zambian families should take off some days off to come here in Monze and enjoy themselves at the Festival,” Ms Mutinta said.
She said it was important for organisers to set fixed dates so that tourists coming from abroad could plan to attend the event.
“On the international market, it works well when you have confirmed dates for an event in advance as foreign tourists usually plan in advance,” Ms Mutinta said
She also said local people in Chikuni area where the event was held should in future consider turning their homes into guest houses and earn an income during the period of the Music Festival.
Ms Mutinta said there was need to put billboards in Chisekesi and Monze towns regarding the festival so that people could be aware of the event.
Chief Ufwenuka, whose chiefdom is the host to the Festival, said the event was all about promoting development while it had no room for politics and other squabbles.
He said Chikuni area was currently better following the hosting of the Musical Festival for 14 years.
“This concert teaches many lessons to all and it brings love and unity among people from almost all districts of Southern Province.
Other Chiefs should also be invited too so that they see what is happening here. At the Lwiindi Gonde Traditional Ceremony in Monze, there are more speeches than dances but here we have many dances,” Chief Ufwenuka said.
Several youths talked to during the ceremony said the Music Festival was beneficial to young people
Namushi Lumasi, 26, from Gwembe, said she the festival had taught her many lessons on the way of life.
Choongo Nchimunya, 23, from Monze said the event was important in his life as he was given an opportunity to learn about the tradition and culture through art and music.
“To me, the event is important because I always come here to understand the norms and cultures that Tongas.
This is the 4th year for me to attend. In future, I am asking the organisers invite other prominent musicians in other languages like Bemba to come here and celebrate with us,” Mr Nchimunya said.
He said Zambia had many other languages and it was important to learn from other traditions and cultures.
Doubt Zyambo, 21, from Chikuni said the event was reminding him of things which were being done in the past but they were currently being ignored.
Kalinda Makani, 19, also from Chikuni said she liked the Festival because it taught her of what used to happen a long time ago.
“My advice if that those people who dance should be wearing uniforms as some of them were not wearing uniforms.
Let them also build a tent because this area is too hot. You can’t continue to make people stand in the sun for two days,” she said.
Monze Member of Parliament Jack Mwiimbu thanked the Catholic Church and other partners for continuing to sponsor the event through Radio
“This is a multi-dimensional cultural event as it reflects the cultural heritage of the Tonga speaking people.
“Some music and dances being reflected are those that were almost forgotten and through this event they are being revived,” Mr Mwiimbu said.
He said if the Roman Catholic Church was willing to put permanent structures at the arena, he would be available assist in every way possible as the event brings a lot of people from all walks of life.
“A number of tourists have been coming every year to witness the event. All we can do is to ensure the event is marketed nationally and internationally and it will attract a lot of tourists.
“When tourists come, they will not only be coming for the music festival but they will also visit other areas of interest in the country and it will help to boost the tourism potential of this
country,” Mr Mwiimbu said
National Museum Board executive secretary Flexon Mizinga, who commended Radio Chikuni for hosting the Festival, said the event was important in preserving the intangible heritage and culture.
Mr Mizinga noted children currently liked Western cultures and the country was slowly losing its identity.
Mr Mizinga said the three museums namely Livingstone Museum, Choma Museum and Moto Moto Museum, which attended the event, would showcase the various performances in their premises as part of educating the public.
“This event is attracting many people and we need to improve on the sitting arrangement. To make people stand for the whole day is not good.
Institutions which are tasked to preserve these things such as the National Heritage Conservation Commission (NHCC), Museums, NAC and ZTB should come here and help to preserve the event,” he said.
And speaking during the official opening of the Music Festival, Southern Province Permanent Secretary Anne Sinyangwe said the Government under the leadership of President Michael Sata attached great importance to the preservation and promotion of culture in the country.
Ms Sinyangwe said the creation of the Ministry off Chiefs and Traditional affairs was a clear testimony of the Government’s resolve to preserve culture and traditional practices for prosperity.
In a speech read for her by Monze District Commissioner Biggie Mwinde, Ms Sinyangwe said music was a vehicle of positive change and development and leadership among the citizens.
Ms Sinyangwe encouraged other community radio stations in the country to emulate Chikuni Radio in promoting and preserving culture.
“This concert is but one of the many ways Chikuni Radio station has asserted itself as a truly relevant community radio station committed to the preservation of the Tonga culture through music and dance.
As Government, we are happy to see the community radio stations initiate ideas that will further promote our cultural identity,” she said.
Ms Sinyangwe said the PF Government was committed to supporting community radio stations.
She said the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting was considering the idea of funding community radio stations to ensure equal access to information.
Ms Sinyangwe said the Government would give necessary support to ZTB to brand and market the All Tonga Music Festival as a tourism event that will attract tourists from all over the world.
Indeed this year’s All Tonga Music Festival has revived the Tonga tradition and culture.