Singing in a choir is one of the strongest elements of social cohesion in the Manda Wilderness. The difficult nature of the Mozambique terrain, lack of infrastructure such as roads, power and communications, and the distance between small settlements makes the development of other familiar communal activities such as sports, clubs and public entertainment very rare. Reliance on subsistence agriculture means there is little, if any, spare money. Choral singing is centered around the churches, which are hand-made brick structures under a tin roof.
The chance to create music and use it as a means of bringing people together is a rare treat. Fortunately, the beautiful cadences of the Chinyanja language lend themselves well to musical setting, giving opportunity to dance—and dance is an integral part of almost every performance. The annual Manda Wilderness Choir Festival has become the main social event of the year. It may be the only time that many get to travel and spend time with people they have never met. The new Manda Wilderness Choir, based at Nkwichi Lodge on the shores of Lake Niassa/Malawi, is one of the fruits of those links. This publication of some of the songs of Manda is a further step in bringing the world’s attention to one of Africa’s last true wildernesses.
Jeremy Toye and Mark Conley
A YouTube video of this piece can be seen at the following link: