Zongwe FM building a Radio Bridge along the Zambezi River!

Your contribution is welcome! Support Zongwe FM community radio station in Sinazongwe to promote communication links within the Tonga community along the shores of Lake Kariba. With your help connection with the Global Village will improve! Thanks to the commitment of the local community of Sinazongwe and assisted by the Rural District Council a new building for the studios and transmitter of Zongwe FM has been raised on top of a hill above the village and Zambian shores of Lake Kariba. The next step is the relocation of the studios currently hosted by Sinazongwe Basic School and built in 2007 with the help of radio activists from Austria. The new location on the hill promises more space and a greater outreach to provide information and communication links within the Tonga community along the Zambezi Valley.

The goal of this campaign is to raise EURO 7500 until end of April 2019 for another technical assistance mission. The task is to relocate the station and to complement the studio equipment.

Your donation will be appreciated using the bank account of Austria-Zimbabwe Friendship Association at Sparkasse Oberösterreich, Linz / Austria, IBAN AT532032016800007352, BIC ASPKAT2LXXX mentioning „Zongwe FM“. A crowdfunding campaign is about to start with more details to follow.

Background: For centuries, the Tonga people had settled along the remote, fertile river banks of the Zambezi - in ChiTonga Mulonga. In the late 1950s, the settler regime of the then Rhodesian Federation flooded the Gweembe Valley (280 kilometers in length) after the construction of a huge dam at Kariba gorge and drove its population out into the semi-desert conditions further inland. Some 60,000 Tonga people were forced – some by gunpoint - to leave their villages, fields and spiritual places. The vast lake and the political differences between the meanwhile independent states of Southern Rhodesia (from 1980 Zimbabwe) and Zambia separated many Tonga clans and families for decades. Contrary to the imminent threat that the Tonga people would lose their culture with its roots, the communities retained their strong spirit of survival and resilience. The still vivid Ngoma Buntibe or Budima dances and ceremonies are proof of it. This unique musical art has been often admired in the course of cultural exchanges by artists and audiences from and in Austria. It has also contributed to counter stereotypes and to create other images of Africa:

During the Austrian Festival of Regions in 1997, a 30-member Ngoma Buntibe ensemble from Siachilaba village walked across a mountain range, the „Totes Gebirge“, accompanied by hundreds of local artists and other companions. Taking part in the exhibition "Tracing the Rainbow" at Schloss Museum in Linz in 2001, the idea was born to support the divided Tonga communities with modern means of communication. The resulting project Tonga.Online www.mulonga.net won awards in 2002 and 2004 at  Ars Electronica Festival in Linz in the category “Digital Communities”. Since 2002, this cultural exchange has been expanded to involve the Tonga community of Sinazongwe on the Northern bank of Lake Kariba.  There the Tonga.OnAir project started in 2007 with the establishment of Zongwe FM, a community radio station. Since then, a small editorial office has been broadcasting locally produced programs. Its goal is to inform and entertain the community, as well as foster dialogue with local authorities. It is also about preserving and promoting the Tonga culture and language. In 2009 a joint ensemble from Siachilaba and Sinazongwe took part in festivals in Linz and Vienna / Austria.

In July 2013, the Zongwe FM radio station underwent a technical overhaul and was newly equipped with more transmission power. In summer 2015, two presenters of Zongwe FM, Patience Kabuku and Kennedy Kein Kambole went on an exchange visit to some Free Radios in Austria.

"The Women sing on both sides of The River". Under this theme, the artist and radio activist Claudia Wegener has started a podcast / radio project to assist in broadcasting relevant communication in the community, across the lake in Binga and on the Zambian side. Respective recordings of group discussions in women's groups and interviews are consequently exchanged on cassettes and accessible via radio sessions and the Internet. https://radiocontinentaldrift.bandcamp.com/album/a-radio-bridge-across-the-zambezi

Photos (below): the new Zongwe FM Studios on the Boma under construction

on behalf of Austria-Zimbabwe Friendship Association, Linz / Austria, Peter Kuthan, chairman