source photos: courtesy Robin Railly
This slideshow presents the South African and Zimbabwean parts of the trip.Click the Picassa logo in
the right hand corner to expand the show to full view, and then the left or right arrows.
The trust visits Zimbabwe every year but it is not always possible to travel with choir members as a group. However we would like to increase the awareness of capacity building through culture and it is our intention to increase visits and to hold workshops and share experiences. The first major workshop tour "Sizohlabelela" took place in 2006. When a tour takes place in terms of timings and the extent of the tour is a democratic decision made by those wanting to go. In 2006 it was decided to travel 4500kms (not exactly carban neutral) to work with different cultural groups in Southern Africa. However visiting Zimbabwe is culturally rich and usually more economically viable especially since more airlines are now flying. Amasiko lemvelo is also our main project partner at present. It has not been policy to raise funds for those wishing to travel as this is a luxury. It has been our policy to help raise funds for the projects prior to a visit. The project is about community development and the trust is not organising publicly subsidised holidays for its members as such. However we are setting up a longer term volunteer placement programme in collaboration with local partners. Watch this space!
We loved singing with local artists. The first visit we stayed in both campsites, national park lodges, educational training centres, graciously the homes of our many friends and just occasionally a hotel room. In brief we booked independent flights to Johannesburg. Joining the vehicle and Misheck Moyo (of Sunduza) we then shot off to Champagne Castle in the Drakensberg for some wild singing at the camp site by night. The next day it was a gentle drive to the Valley Training centre outside Durban who support HIV prevention initiatives. We were then invited to see the work of Chris Hurst and his students at the drama department of the University of Kwa Zulu Natal. They were working on a play by Cont Mhlanga of Amakhosi Theatre in Bulawayo called "Workshop Negative". We also had a great opportunity to attend a workshop with Mbongeni Ngema's arts academy and see some of their rehearsals for Bambata at the Durban Playhouse.
It was then up through the sugar cane plantations and at altitude the Eshowe rain forest to Ulundi. Here we worked with the Umuzi Pan dance group. After a drive through the Umfolozi National Park we re joined them at Umuzi Pan where they teach local people through theatre how to cope with the local Hippos. Camping at the iSamangaliso Wetlands was gloriously wet but a great time was had viewing the local wildlife.
Driving back to Johannesburg we caught the cross border bus to Bulawayo. As this was the day Zimbabwe was changing its national currency the journey proved excessively tedious but we were welcomed in Bulawayo from our overnight trip by Mandla Sibanda his family and Sunduza dance Theatre. From here we engaged in a variety of voice workshops and a delightful trip to the Matopos before after a few days heading to Hwange National Park. In Hwange our original link had gone missing but unexpectedly good things happen in Zimbabwe- the local Phinda Mzala group were rehearsing and invited us to work with them. After the compulsory visit to Victoria Falls and a visit into deepest Dete to meet Mandla's uncle Mr Mbobo, we headed back to Bulawayo and then eventually to Masvingo to meet with Farai Mahaso at the Batanai HIV group who link with Sheffield. He had kindly given us access to their vehicle for the Zimbabwe leg of the journey. Our last journey took the group to Bulawayo airport for the return flight via Jo'burg back to the UK.
Our next trip may not be so ambitious, it may be more carbon friendly. Perhaps equally important our next trip may focus more on the main linking group. Join us in2016 and get saving. Our next visit in 2013 was with members of Amasiko Lemvelo to the African Creative Networking Conference in October in Cape Town. It was about urban regeneration through the arts, in 2015 we had a joint delegation to DOADOA in Kampala, Uganda and will be going again in 2017. Contact us if you want to participate or to go to the Zimbabwe centre in 2017. Read more about these links through the African Safari newsletter on this site