Tonga musicians @ HIFA 2012

Greetings from Basilwizi - The people of the Great River!


Basilwizi Trust is excited to advise that for the first time in history of Harare International Festival of the Arts HIFA, Zimbabwe’s largest show case for arts and culture, Tonga musicians have been invited to participate. We are so grateful to this support which presents an opportunity for our people to share and exchange on Zimbabwe’s cultural diversity at an international stage.

see the HIFA website: Ngoma Buntibe music of the Tonga People

NEW: read the update by Penny Yon / Pamberi Trust (below)

NEW: Mokoomba, the young Tonga boys from VicFalls @ HIFA (further below)


For those who may not have had the chance to see Tonga musicians on stage, the following brief notes should help as a precursor.

BaTonga play a type of music called 'Ngoma Yabuntibe'. In this music, there are six drums of different sizes and seven – eleven different animal horns blown as trumpets to produce well coordinated lyrics. We, as BaTonga,  play this music at different occasions like celebrating a harvest, installation of a chief, death, memorial services, etc.

For Basilwizi, this music presents a perfect tool for localized advocacy as musicians compose songs that address day to day problems faced by the community. The songs currently on the hit list across the valley include those addressing HIV and AIDS awareness, Gender inclusion, corruption by state agents, current political set up in Zimbabwe and some urging children to go to school. It is therefore not surprising why Basilwizi and partners find supporting this type of music and cultural groups a necessity.

For HIFA 2012, Basilwizi is bringing along a total of 30 musicians (about 20 males and 10 females). Female musicians fill in the fray with sweet vocals with some even playing drums and blowing horns too. Find more information on

Please join us during the opening session on the 30th until the 2nd of May 2012 at HIFA.

Kind regards

Frank Mudimba
Director Basilwizi Trust

more also at HIFA program:

Ngoma Buntibe music of the Tonga People

Date: 01/05/2012
Time: 12:00 pm
The name of the Tonga (or Batonga) is derived from mulonga, the traditional name for the Zambezi River along the border between Zimbabwe and Zambia. For centuries, this fertile valley has been the spiritual centre and the focal point in the lives of the Tonga people. Their music is played on horns of antelopes and drums, creating fascinating sound patterns and spherical movements of dance.

"my ears were flooded by the most extraordinary texture of sound. I was in the middle of rural Zimbabwe where even Coca-Cola had failed to penetrate to any great extent and I was hearing music that made Stockhausen sound like lullabies. I couldn't decide whether it was most like the micro-polyphony of Ligeti, the serial universe of Stockhausen or the aleatorism of Cage."  Keith Goddard in "One Man One Note"

This is a very rare opportunity to hear 30 Ngoma Buntibe musicians share their unique, surprising, striking and mysterious musical culture. The group will also perform at various times around the site. more info:

Location: Lay's Global Stage

Tonga Tonkunst @ HIFA 2012

NGOMA yeBUNTIBE at HIFA 2012 on 01 May was a mind-blowing experience for the audience which filled the Lays Global stage venue to capacity, gathering eagerly to witness one of the most amazing music spectacles of Zimbabwe, the ancient and fascinating music culture of the Tonga people.

At the imperative call of the lead drum and nyele (horn) from the wings, 30 musicians, singers and dancers of the ngoma buntibe group from Simatelele poured onto the empty stage, carrying with them various drums including the huge ‘budima’, a massive bass drum played with the fist – ‘the rhythm section’ which drove the music along with the small drum, leading the way for 18 “one-man-one-note” horn players and, unusually, one female hornplayer. Horn-playing elders and juniors displayed a fun! love of dance with everything from a reggae-like hop to a 50s-style tap dance, and general happy stomping and shuffling, and six lively women dancers with beautifully beaded costumes were ‘slaves to the rhythm’, with percussive instruments and whistles, a cheeky toss of a bum and swirl of a skirt, some intricate footwork, a wink of an eye and a big toothy grin, tirelessly reveling in the different rhythms captured in two compositions performed within the one hour show.

The word that kept springing to mind was ‘Freestyle!’ The entire group played, moved, enjoyed their own performance with such freedom and abandon, happy, proud and completely confident in the face of the unfamiliar setting and audience.

The audience was overwhelmed, mesmerized. Tonga music has put its stamp on Harare, and on HIFA – a unique Zimbabwean experience for the enrichment of all.

Thanks to Peter Kuthan and Austria-Zimbabwe Friendship Association for always promoting Tonga music and culture; thanks to Manuel Bagorro for a concerted effort to include the huge group in HIFA for the first time, and wonderful 5-star accommodation at Rainbow Towers; thanks to Basilwizi Trust for an excellent job in coordinating their travel and performance, and to all those who attended to pay respect to the vivid culture of BaTonga. Keith Goddard would have been proud.

more (and pictures) soon on

by Penny Yon
Pamberi Trust


Abundance interview with Mokoomba on BBC @ HIFA festival : (at 11'08 !!) programmes/p00r6zmz#p00s6k23

The situation in Zimbabwe has been a tense one for the past decade or more, and the arts scene gone through its own tribulations and survived. The theme for this year's HIFA was "A Show of Spirit".