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from Maputo: The Umoja Music Camp
November 27, 2009
In September Deon, Tinevimbo,
Belinda and Charmaine, four members of the CHIPAWO Youth Programme,
attended a 10-day Umoja Cultural Flying Carpet music camp in Maputo
along with young artists from South Africa, Mozambique and Norway.
CHIPAWO was represented by the Head of Programmes, Chipo Basopo,
herself a participant of the camps in not so longer times. Another
young artist, Thabiso, completed all the rehearsals and took part
in the preview in Harare before the group left for Maputo but owing
to problems with his ID was not able to get a passport and had to
miss the boat. And judging from the comments of the young people
after their return, it was a tragic loss for Thabiso.
The Umoja Cultural Flying
Carpet is the initiative of Norwegian music teachers with funding
from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Oslo. Its stated aims are:-
the fostering of peace and development among nations through arts
and culture, the support of art and culture and the development
of arts institutions. The instrument that Umoja developed to achieve
these goals was a rotating music camp, which young artists from
the participating countries would attend. Action Teams were set
up in each participating country to organise and implement programmes.
At the camp they perform
for each other a national programme of music and dance and then
start working in mixed groups to come up with various fusion or
crossover performance items. The week culminates with a combined
performance at which short versions of the national programme and
the combined items are performed. Unfortunately since its inception
the camp has never been in Zimbabwe, a sore point to the Zimbabweans
But enough of me. Here
is a bit of a digest of some of the things the young artists themselves
wrote about their experiences in Maputo:
It was an amazing
experience. Since it was my first time to travel, everything was
new and exciting to me, I had lots of fun and lots of new experiences
I have learnt several
things from Umoja Flying Cultural Carpet, dances, songs, the culture
of different countries and their lifestyles.
The main thing that was
really helpful to most of us was being able to work together and
creating an atmosphere of togetherness. I have realised that if
people work together using different opinions and ideas they can
come out with a great thing.
As youths we
need to encourage each other to learn and know our culture because
there is nothing to be ashamed of. We should be proud of the knowledge
that we would acquire. Going into schools, especially secondary
schools, showing them the cultures of different countries would
make a huge and positive impact on the cultural perspective of youths.
We also had
a performance in Campo do Zixaxa, dubbed "The Green Concert",
where we had Mama Graca Machel (former wife of the late President
of Frelimo and Mozambique, Samora Machel, and now married to Nelson
Mandela) as the Guest of Honour. There was a great turnout from
the residents of Zixaxa, both young and old, and they gave overwhelming
support to the various performing Umoja students and loved everything
we had to offer.
On the day of
the final concert, the Franco Theatre (venue of the concert) was
packed to the maximum and the audience offered overwhelming support,
screaming and cheering for everyone. The climax of the concert was
the drum piece presented by all Umoja students with fire-juggling
and the four participating countries flags were raised.
there were also performances from local groups in Mozambique and
also some children who were being taught by the Mozambican Action
Team (and they did) a marvellous performance.
The Umoja camp
really helped me to improve my performing skills and it was such
a nice experience. I am very proud of the way we performed and we
really lifted our Zimbabwean flag high.
was very energetic and impressive. I was also impressed by the standard
of the other three countries, in particular, Norway. The Norwegians
brought another dimension to the camp as their culture of music
and dance is very different from the African countries.
The cultural exchange
programme that took place was also very educative as it mixed the
four different countries and produced unique music and dance routines.
The cultural exchange programme also helped me as an artist to better
my skills in playing musical instruments like our very own marimba.
The Umoja Cultural Flying
Carpet also upgraded my socialising skills as I have now made friends
with everyone that was at the camp. I am also in touch with most
of the people on Facebook.
This camp was
the experience of a lifetime and I am very proud to have been a
part of it.
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