Windhund in Zimbabwe

Windhund Tour : Zimbabwe September 2002
Report by Penny Yon / Kunzwana Trust
see photos taken during the tour.

listen to Andachtsjodler by Binga Highschool Choir + Otto Lechner & Windhund


The Windhund Tour of Zimbabwe took place from 4-16 September 2002. They travelled to and performed at Victoria Falls (informal), Siachilaba, Binga, Bulawayo and Harare. Throughout their tour they shared their stage with Zimbabwean musicians, including the traditional Tonga group Simonga, Binga High School Choir and Drama groups, the afro-jazz group Submarine in Bulawayo, Shona mbira artist Ms Sonnie Chikoka in Harare, and many African jazz artists at the African Banking Corporation Jazz Festival in Harare, the final performance of their tour. The purposes of the tour were in support of the Tonga.Online internet project at Binga High School in Matabeleland North; as a statement for cultural exchange, and freedom of expression.


Without the promised help of the National Arts Council, who commenced the processing applications just two days before the arrival of the group, Kunzwana Trust paid to the Department of Customs at Victoria Falls a refundable deposit of Z$731 000 to allow the instruments into the country. All details had been given to the National Arts Council some months before, and several personal and telephone follow ups made. Some fast talking at Victoria Falls with the Chief Immigration Officer, a music lover, ensured that there were no immigration problems; however the group were subjected to US Dollar rates where applicable within Zimbabwe. The Customs deposit was recovered after the group had departed from Zimbabwe on 16 September 2002.


Accommodation in all cases was most satisfactory, and we hope that the Binga stay was particularly enjoyable for the group. Although weather conditions in northern Zimbabwe are quite harsh at this time of year, adequate food and refreshments ensured the comfort of the visitors, who were very accommodating and co-operative. Food was also provided for all participants during the tour, at a time when everyone in the Binga district faces hunger and starvation. Where food was left over, it was donated to people of the Siachilaba community. Transport was in good order, and the hired minibus served the tour well from Victoria Falls to Bulawayo, with no mechanical or other problems. It was confirmed that the trailer was needed for safe and adequate storage of luggage and instruments, and general comfort for the long journeys. Binga High School was very supportive in finding transport for the 30-strong group Simonga to perform in Binga, some 60km from their homes.


All concerts were staged and workshops conducted as planned, with some changes as necessary :

6 Sep Welcome, Workshop & Performance by Simonga, Siachilaba Business Centre
This was a successful first encounter with Tonga music culture, after a workshop in which Windhund and Simonga introduced themselves and explained their instruments to each other. The amazing performance of Simonga was unfortunately marred by a minor disruption in which some Simonga dancers were accused of waving their open palm - the opposition MDC party slogan - to campaign for MDC for the cameras of the visitors. The performance was stopped for approximately one half hour until it was resolved that there were no political activities going on.

7 Sep Performance of Windund, Siachilaba planned with BHS Choir & Drama groups
Considering the previous days' disturbance, the Zimbabwe Republic Police post at Siachilaba was visited by Peter Kuthan and Penny Yon, to reassure them of our non-political activities, and request their final clearance and protection. Letters had previously been written to all local authorities regarding the concerts and Tonga.Online activities. Although the Siachilaba police cleared the days activities, parents of the Binga High School choir and drama group members preferred to avoid any possibility of students becoming involved in any political problems, and the Binga High school students did not travel to and perform at Siachilaba with Windhund as planned.

The concert took place outside the defunct Council beerhall, an open space to accommodate as many people as possible. Windhund performed in a circle of amazed Tonga villagers, who were very attentive, discussing amongst themselves the new music they were being confronted with. In a most amazing exchange, Otto Lechner invited Simonga musicians to join Windhund in playing a traditional Austrian Polka. After a moment's uncertainty, some nyele (horn) players quickly picked up the melody and joined the music, followed swiftly by other players and women dancing and playing insaka (rattles).

9 Sep Workshops at Binga High school
The Workshops at Binga High School with Otto Lechner and the high school choir, and Joao de Bruco and the drama group, were both successful, culminating in a few joint items at the main concert on the following day.

10 Sep Performance of Windhund with Simonga, BHS Choir & Drama groups, Binga
After a late start due to the delay of the arrival of the group Simonga from Siachilaba, the concert went ahead with a huge audience of schoolchildren and local authorities. Although all stakeholders had been invited, certain activities were taking place in and around Binga which may have prevented attendance by busy stakeholders. These activities included a national Census exercise, the opening of the new school term, an ongoing food distribution programme by Save the Children UK, and forthcoming rural council elections, which are politically volatile. Those who attended included Chief Siachilaba, with the group Simonga, members of Ntengwe for Cultural Community Development, KM Agricultural Training Centre, Binga Crocodile Farm, Headmistress Nhliziyo, among others. The open-air venue and lack of PA system proved a problem and it was sometimes difficult for all listeners to hear and receive the full impact of Windhund music. However the group and their music was well received, with Melissa Coleman making a huge, positive impact on young women at the school.

11 Sep Performance of Windhund with Submarine, National Gallery in Bulawayo
Although this was a disappointing audience turnout, due partly to the very unexpected and cold weather (outdoor venue), the musical exchange which took place between Windhund and the Bulawayo group 'Submarine' was excellent, rich and colourful. A good relationship was established between all musicians, who eventually played together also, with Otto Lechner, Joao de Bruco and Karl Ritter easily identifying and falling in with southern African jazz rhythms. Karl Ritter donated a few sets of strings to the band, which were very gratefully received as they are very scarce and expensive in Zimbabwe.

13 Sep Performance of Windhund with Sonnie Chikoka, The Book Cafe, Harare
The Book Cafe is a popular cafe which is known for its openness, and the first Harare audience welcomed the group and its music warmly at this venue, which is small and intimate. An interesting cultural exchange took place between Windhund and Sonnie Chikoka, a well known Shona mbira player in Harare.

14 Sep Performance of Windhund at the African Banking Corporation Summertime Jazz Festival, Harare
Jazz Festival day at Borrowdale Race Course Diamond Enclosure in Harare, thronged with people of all races and walks of life, and music styles. Windhund performance in mid-afternoon attracted much attention, and great publicity for the Tonga.Online project. Local musicians were amazed by the combination of instruments, and wizardry of each musician. Some good photos were captured by the press photographers, and interviews given after the performance. Other artists included South Africans Jimmy Dludlu and Gloria Bosman, and Zimbabwe's own Oliver Mutukudzi and several other Zimbabwean jazz groups, with diverse music styles.


Advertising and publicity proceeded as effectively as possible, but was seriously hampered by connectivity problems at Binga ITC where the internet was not accessible for almost 2 weeks in August, and then very, very slow due to poor Binga telephone lines in general. Press Releases were sent out by every possible means, but it was later discovered that some were not received. 2000 posters were circulated along the tour route beforehand, with maximum publicity at Siachilaba and Binga; 100 T-shirts were produced and given to active participants in the project. A Zimbabwean photographer was hired to document the Harare performances. A degree of publicity was gained through the regular jazz festival publicity, which was unfortunately also very late, and not very descriptive. Before and during Ars Electronica, radio telephone interviews were carried out with Radio Fro, Austria, and SW Radio Africa, London. Advertising for The Mulonga Loop broadcast of Tonga music on SW Radio to Zimbabwe was considered politically sensitive and kept to a minimum.


In spite of connectivity problems, researched information, comments and recorded interviews were forwarded to Austria for inclusion in the Mulonga Loop presentation at Ars Electronica. Problems encountered included bad connectivity for downloading and uploading, analogue telephone lines and congested networks in Binga. Certain material was finally sent to Austria via a Harare link. Eventually a live telephone interview with SW Radio Africa in London was conducted.


In spite of a number of unforeseen and unexpected problems, the Windhund Tour was completed successfully, keeping within the original plan for the tour project. The Tonga.Online project enjoyed good publicity and exposure from the performances of Windhund around the country, particularly for radio, where this publicity will be ongoing in view of national radio's need to fulfil a 75% 'local content' directive by government. Print journalists are also still requesting information on the project, and will continue to be fed with information which will benefit the project, keeping it in the public eye. The objectives of the tour were well met, under extremely difficult circumstances. The tour generally drew good attention to the Tonga.Online project, and with Peter Kuthan's actions at Binga, also maintained its commitment to cultural exchange and freedom of expression in a politically volatile environment. At no time were Windhund musicians in danger of any kind, and Peter Kuthan's diplomacy is to be highly commended. Thanks also to the incoming Austrian Ambassador, Mr Brunner, for the part played by the Austrian Embassy in Harare. Thanks also to the City of Vienna`s Cultural department for financial assistance to make this valuable cultural exchange happen.

P A Yon
Kunzwana Trust
Publicity, Gender, Training