Zimfest News Blog

Posts by Claire Jones

Zimfest Applications Closing February 28

A brief reminder to the Zimfest Community

We are halfway through the application period for Zimfest 2019 but do not have half of the teacher or performer applications we usually have. We have heard from very few North American teachers and bands and wonder where you are. If you are hoping to teach, or your band is hoping to perform, get your applications in ASAP!

Go here for Performance applications
Go here for Teacher applications
and check Applications announcement for suggestions on workshops for this year

Zimfest 2019 Organizing Committee

Music Dancing Across Borders

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Tribute to Oliver Mtukudzi

The Zimfest Association joins Zimbabweans everywhere in mourning the passing last week of musical and humanitarian giant Oliver Mtukudzi. The tribute below is published with the permission of author Jennifer Kyker, a former Zimfest Association board member. Nematambudziko.

Oliver “Tuku” Mtukudzi

Oliver “Tuku” Mtukudzi was singular in innumerable ways, from the resonant sound of his husky voice to his playful dance moves, with names like “donkey jump” and “railway line.” From his trademark cough inspired by Mpharanyana to his tall, lanky frame, his complexion dark like the rich soils of Dande, there was no one remotely like him, this towering figure known by his clan praise name of Nzou Samanyanga, the Elephant, Bearer of Tusks.

Mtukudzi’s songs were by turns mournful, funny, nostalgic, witty, heart-rending, energizing, and even sometimes mystifying. Almost unfailingly, they demonstrated his exceptional mastery of the Shona language, his tight-knit style of musical arrangement, and his fundamental belief that song is primarily intended to convey a message. As he saw it, music was simply the attraction, or hwezvo, drawing people to listen to the message of a song. “Kuridza kurunga,” he told me, “You’re just flavoring the song.”

Hundreds of well-flavored songs consistently served Mtukudzi’s purpose, delivering message after message to several generations of listeners. In them, Mtukudzi counseled us to respect our parents, to remain humble before our elders, and to acknowledge our limitations once we ourselves are elderly. He cautioned us against abusing alcohol, against mistreating our children and wives, and against stigmatizing people living with HIV/AIDS. He encouraged family planning and women’s rights. He asserted the value of kinship obligations, indigenous musical styles, traditional foods, and customary practices often targeted as obsolete.

At the same time, Mtukudzi saw one message as particularly central, a single umbrella covering all of his songs. He described it in many ways – as hunhu, as self-discipline, as respect, as moral personhood. Ultimately, Mtukudzi’s message was simply this – that our humanity is an expression of love shared with others. In his own words:
“…that is what is called a human being. That is the soul of a person. We don’t need qualifications to attain self-discipline. And self-discipline simply translates to respecting the next person. To love the next person. It all comes from self-discipline. It’s not something that we acquire academically; you are born with it. You know what’s good and what’s bad. And, the more you talk about that, the more you remind people how we should live. So it’s way above what we think. It’s what we’re supposed to be.”

Mtukudzi’s musical genius emerged in the way he brought this consistent emphasis on moral personhood together with infectious dance rhythms, irresistible guitar work, unforgettable lyrics, and perfectly crafted song forms. In the process, he touched countless numbers of listeners.
Preceded in death by his beloved son Sam, Tuku’s passing will be felt most keenly by his family, including his wife Daisy, and his daughters Sandra, Selmor, and Samantha. Outside the durawall of Mtukudzi’s home in Norton, an entire nation mourns with them, and beyond the nation’s borders, millions more.

Introducing himself during one performance, Mtukudzi told his audience, “When you say Mtukudzi, you mean ‘One who makes one rich.’ And I’m not on my own, I do have the Black Spirits with me. And we are here to make you rich.”

Truly, Samanyanga, you have made us rich. You have enriched us as individuals, as families, as communities, and as a nation. Thank you. You have shown us the gold of humanity in all the shades of black, in all the rich soils of Dande, and in all the strings of your Godin guitar. Tinotenda. You have shared with us a wealth that goes beyond bank accounts and bond notes, a wealth that does not wear out with age, that cannot be seized, that does not go up in flames, and that cannot be tracked or devoured by predatory animals. Mazvita enyu Samanyanga. You have reminded us of the soul of the Zimbabwean people. Ndima mapedza Nzou, masakura nekuzunza zvese. Zororai murugare Samanyanga, gamba renyika.

 

Jennifer W. Kyker, PhD
Author, Oliver Mtukudzi: Living Tuku Music in Zimbabwe (2016)

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Zimfest Sunday Concert Special

Dear Zimfest community,

This message addresses a shared complaint and request from the Zimfest 2018 survey, and our response to it. Be sure to read through to the end!

Several people have expressed the desire to see more Zimbabweans performing on the evening stage at Zimfest. We want you to be aware that there is a legal reason that not all the visiting Zimbabweans can perform at our ticketed concerts. The type of US visa (B-1 business/pleasure) granted to many of the Zimbabweans (and Canadians!) traveling to Zimfest does not allow the visa holder to perform in a concert for which admission is charged. Zimfest cannot include B-1 visa holders on the ticketed evening stage lineups; it would risk the visa status of these visitors, as well as the co-sponsoring status of the Zimfest Association and our host institution (WOU).

Our plan for Zimfest 2019 is to make the Sunday evening concert on August 11, 2019 free admission, by donation only. Like the afternoon concerts at the festival, there will be no restrictions as to who may perform, so we hope to include some of Zimbabweans you’ve been missing (take note, Zimbabwean applicants!). In order to make this work, we need your help as audience members. We cannot afford to lose money on Sunday evening, so we ask that you donate the same amount that tickets cost for the Friday and Saturday ticketed concerts: currently $18 in advance, $20 onsite for adults.

If having a concert “by donation” sounds like the Zimfest workshops that are “by donation,” it is because it is motivated by the same money-earning restrictions on B-1 visa holders. Any instruction or musical demonstration offered by these individuals must be free and open to the public. This is explained in more detail on the website here (see Workshops by Donation). As with the “by donation” workshops, it is our hope that you understand that donating the full amount supports Zimfest’s ability to bring these musicians to the festival. It is disappointing for us to see people donating relatively small amounts for children taking workshops, or American teachers signing up for workshops from Zimbabweans. We appeal to you as a community to help us out on this with your generous donations.

It will be many weeks before we know who will be coming to Zimfest this year, but we wanted to let you know of these plans in advance so that you can make your own plans accordingly. We promise the Sunday evening concert at Zimfest 2019 will be very special – you won’t want to miss out!

Until next time,
Claire Jones
On behalf of the Zimfest 2019 OC and ZA Board of Directors

Zimfest 2019 – Music Dancing Across Borders

 

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Applications Reminder and Call for Artwork

Greetings Zimfest community,

We have two quick messages about Zimfest applications and artwork:

  • Reminding you that online applications for performing and teaching at Zimfest 2019 have been open for almost two weeks – we’d love to hear from you! Go to the Teacher Application Info and Performer Application Info pages for links, and the Application Announcement for ideas.
  • We are working once again with the wonderful graphics artist Rachel Edson for Zimfest 2019 graphics needs, but that doesn’t mean we are not open to creative input from the rest of the community. Let us know if you have any artistic ideas appropriate for incorporation into the 2019 posters and/or the festival guide: a painting, drawing, collage or illustration of any medium will do. Send your ideas referencing the Zimfest theme of Music Dancing Across Borders to 2019[at]zimfest{dot}org.

Best of 2019 to all,

Claire on behalf of
The Zimfest 2019 Organizing Committee

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Online Applications Open January 2

Dear Zimfest Community,

Applications are now open for the 2019 Zimbabwean Music Festival. To apply to teach or perform at this year’s festival, go directly to the Teacher Application Information and/or Performer Application Information pages. Applications will remain open until February 28, 2019.

If you are applying to teach, you will be able to propose as many workshops as you wish after submitting the teacher application. Each year we seek to offer a balance of workshops, including singing, dancing, drumming, marimba, several types of mbira and a variety of cultural presentations. Based on feedback from previous Zimfest participants, we are making the following suggestions for 2019 workshop proposals:

  • Many 2018 marimba workshop participants expressed the desire for more time in upper level workshops. We can accept a limited number of 2.5 hour marimba workshops at the Intermediate and/or Advanced level.
  • Consider, however, that presentations, or workshops in dancing or hosho, might be better suited to 1 or 1.5 hours.
  • We can also schedule a small number of intermediate or advanced marimba workshops for teens. We no longer have a separate age level for teens, so please tell us in the workshop description or title if you are proposing a teen workshop.
  • We love to see workshops that educate about African music beyond just teaching songs. Sessions that integrate marimba with singing, dancing, drumming and/or hosho, bring home to American students the knowledge that these music and dance activities are rarely separate in Zimbabwe!

Send us your ideas, and we’ll see what we can schedule!

The Zimfest Association Board has chosen to carry over the 2018 theme, “Music Dancing Across Borders” for Zimfest 2019. Considering that legal circumstances for immigrants and residents both here in the United States and in Zimbabwe continue to be under threat, we remain steadfast in the belief that music and dance are unifying forces around the world. We look forward to dissolving borders and creating togetherness at Zimfest 2019, August 8-11 at Western Oregon University in Monmouth, OR.

Happy New Year from the 2019 Organizing Committee!
Best regards, Claire Jones
Zimfest Coordinator

Music Dancing Across Borders

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Introducing the Zimfest Code of Conduct

Dear Zimfest community,
This year’s post-festival survey included two separate comments alleging sexual misconduct or assault either at the festival or elsewhere by persons known to the Zimfest community. The Zimfest Association Board of Directors takes these allegations seriously and wishes to follow up on them. In the interest of facilitating safe and non-threatening environments at future festivals, the ZA Board has generated a policy statement addressing sexual and other forms of harassment: the Zimfest Code of Conduct. The purpose of the Code, which applies to all Zimfest participants (including performers, teachers, volunteers, staff, and other attendees), is to ensure that the festival is an inclusive, welcoming, and safe space free from harassment and/or abuse. All Zimfest applicants will be requested to read the form and share with band mates or others for whom they are applying. The Zimfest Code appears here on the website.

The Code includes options for reporting complaints of sexual and other harassment. The ZA Board has followed up with one of the respondents who made sexual abuse allegations within the 2018 festival survey. The second comment was totally anonymous, and we have no idea who the complainant is, or the alleged perpetrator or the alleged victim. If you or someone you know made the anonymous comment and wishes to provide further information, please call or email any of the individuals designated to receive complaints in the “Reporting harassment and other complaints” section of the Code.

Thanks for your attention. We will have more feedback on the 2018 festival survey in the coming weeks along with news about the 2019 festival. Look forward to applications for Zimfest coming online on January 2!

On behalf on the Zimfest Board,
Claire Jones, Festival Coordinator

Music Dancing Across Borders

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Announcing Zimfest 2019

Dear Zimfest community,

The Zimfest Association Board of Directors and I are pleased to announce that we will be producing a festival next year! Zimfest 2019 will take place at Western Oregon University in Monmouth, from  August 8 to 11. Mark your calendars and make your plans!

When this year’s festival ended, we were unsure whether we had enough committed volunteers to staff an organizing committee (OC) for 2019.  It has been very gratifying to see a number of new recruits raise their hands to volunteer, and I have been in touch with almost everyone who wrote to us or signed up at the festival. While we are confident we have enough people onboard for the OC, we still – always – need volunteer help leading up to and/or at the festival. You can always write to volunteers{at}zimfest{dot}org or complete the form at the bottom of the Why and How to Volunteer page.

To those of you who are unable to attend Zimfest on the dates WOU is available to us (the second weekend of August): we are sorry we have not been able to accommodate you and are continuing to seek dates earlier in the summer. We are looking ahead to Zimfest 2020 at the Evergreen State College in Olympia, WA, where we have been promised (fingers crossed) an earlier date. We cannot confirm an exact weekend for Zimfest 2020 however.

Blessings to all, enjoy the fall colors!
Claire (Jones)
Zimfest Coordinator

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Update: Patience Musandirire Lost Luggage

Dear Zimfest participants, Zimbabwean music and cultural enthusiasts,

Those of you who were at Zimfest may recall that Patience Musandirire told us that his flights from Zimbabwe had been delayed and rerouted, and along the way his baggage went missing. His suitcase arrived one week later, after the festival. It had been ripped open and a number of items were missing.  We have filed claims with United Airlines and Ethiopian Airlines for delayed luggage and lost content. These claims have been processed and partial payments made in the form of these transferable airline vouchers that expire in one year (summer 2019).

Consider helping Patience to get reimbursement for the loss of luggage, delayed claims, and mbira instruments stolen from his bag. If you travel on United Airlines, we have $500 in travel vouchers that we can transfer to you. Contact Gretel Baumgartner (in Oregon) to coordinate details in transferring these airline vouchers, valid on United Airlines. You will pay $500 for the same travel value – all money will be delivered to Patience in Harare, Zimbabwe. Gretel will arrange safe and secure wired funds. If you have current knowledge on the best means of transferring funds to Zimbabwe, please write to Gretel or reply to this blog post.

Please contact Gretel via email gjb9876 “at” yahoo “dot” com.

Posted on behalf of Gretel Baumgartner and Patience Musandirire

 

Thank you.

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Zimfest Lost and Found

Hello Zimfesters,

The following items were turned in as Lost and Found at the Zimfest registration desk. I am willing to mail them to the owners if you can identify them. Write to claire{at}zimfest{dot}org with descriptions.
Fleece jacket
Folding knife
Adult onesie

Enjoy the fall weather!
Claire Jones, Zimfest Coordinator

 

A message from Julia Chigamba:
Hello Zimfest family/ community
Sorry to bring you sad news. I had my mbira at my booth inside the mbira bags I was selling.
This mbira was made by my Father Baba Chigamba made it in a week as fast as he can and gave it to Kelly Takunda Orphan to bring it me. This mbira is so special to me very very special to me. I can’t stop thinking about it the story behind it and how it was made that quickly for me and was a gift to me from Jeanne Robinson Pimentel while we were in Zimbabwe in June. So please who ever has my baby you forgot to put it back on the table were the my baby was you can send it to my address.
It was truly fun and amazing to seeing everybody at zimfest. Don’t forget to message me about my mbira: nditistis55{at}gmail{dot}com.

Posted by Claire on behalf of Julia

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Welcome to Zimfest

Hello,
I write to you from Zimfest 2018 after a super opening ceremony and exhilarating performance by Shamwari Tamba of Boulder. We have a couple of last minute changes to report:

  • Guitarist Samuel Mukwedeya has had to cancel his teaching and participation in the festival. His Session 2 workshop Other Instruments: Chemutengure on Guitar will be taught by Zivanai Masango instead.
  • Samuel Mukwedeya’s Session 5 workshop Nyamamusango on Guitar is canceled.
  • Moyo Rainos Mutamba is having to leave the festival earlier than expected. His Session 7  Beginning Mbira: Chigwaya workshop will be taught by Alois Mutinhiri instead.
  • Due to access issues, all workshops scheduled to be taught by Erica Azim in Ackerman 3rd floor lounge, SW corner will be taught in Ackerman 140 instead.

Enjoy the festival!

Claire and the 2018 OC

 

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Final Message before Zimfest

Hello all,

Three days until the Zimfest opening ceremony!
Some reminders to all festival-goers:

  • The Monmouth weather forecast is for temperatures of 85 degrees F. and higher! Bring fans – WOU dorm rooms have no air conditioning! Also bring your own soap, as the linen packs do not include soap.
  • Those traveling from or through Portland should be aware that construction projects on I-5 may cause delays. A major repaving project is underway along 6 miles of Interstate 5 in Portland, and night time road work may delay traffic on I-5 in both directions from 8:00 PM until 5:30 or 8:00 AM every night during Zimfest. Check this site for updates.
  • We are instituting new procedures for workshop evaluations this year; class rosters will be put in the teachers’ registration packets, and evaluation forms will be placed in the rooms. Workshop students, please assist teachers in getting evaluations completed, clipped together and placed in the correct envelope.
  • Several of our Zimbabwean guests are looking for transportation back to Portland after the festival. Urgently, Moyo Mutamba needs to get to PDX on Sunday in time for a 4:52 PM flight, and Tafadzwa Matiure has a 6:50 PM flight. Lucky Moyo and Tsungai Tsikirai do not fly out of PDX until August 14, but would appreciate rides to Portland any time Monday.

See you all very soon for a festive and safe Zimfest!

Claire and the Zimfest 2018 OC

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Zimfest Registration Closing August 1

Hello all,
Countdown: 10 days until Zimfest 2018!

Here is your final reminder that Zimfest registration will close down completely August 1 at midnight. Registration for housing and dining is already closed.

  • No more workshop signups or changes may be made after midnight August 1. During the festival, students may not drop or transfer to another workshop unless the workshop they are enrolled in has been significantly changed by the festival organizers (such as a different teacher.) The reason for this is that if a workshop with low enrollment remains on the schedule and people are then allowed to drop out of it, Zimfest would be contractually obligated to pay the teacher even if s/he had no students to teach!
  • Online purchase of concert tickets ends at midnight August 1. Purchase your tickets in the next three days while the advance sale prices are still in effect!
  • Online signups for volunteers will close at midnight August 1. Help us out by signing up for shifts now so that we have a clear idea of what help is needed when the festival starts.
  • Another reminder for performers: if your band’s lineup has changed from the people you listed in your application, please send your updated band roster to performers{at}zimfest{dot}org. All performers requesting complimentary entrance must be listed on the band roster prior to the festival and may enter only one concert for free. Band members, make sure your contact person has taken care of this!

Woo hoo! See you soon in Monmouth!
Claire and the OC

 

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