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Tradition, Self-Love and the Dulcet Tones of the Pan African Diaspora at Nexus Arts’ Ujamaa

August 1st, 2018 by Kirstie Forbes | Category: Nexus Arts Nexus Live | Tags:

MATE

Tradition, storytelling, and connection to ancestral heritage will be centre stage this Saturday at Nexus Arts with Ujamaa, a collaboration between Melbourne based MATE (Melbourne African Traditional Ensemble), spoken word poet Manal Younus and Melbourne’s Ethio-Jazz ensemble, JAzmaris. The evening kicks off with the warm sounds of MATE, and we got chatting with producer Stani Goma, on what we can look forward to on the night.

On MATE…
The Melbourne African Traditional Ensemble encompass and represent the traditional sounds of each member’s respective country, collaborating to preserve important traditions. Through music, storytelling, language, and connection to ancestral heritage to unite the diaspora and share the Pan African experience with the wider community.

On inspiration…
I had a long-held vision to create a platform for traditional African music virtuosos to collaborate and develop an authentic pan African sound. MATE is strictly based on traditional African instruments through research, innovation, experimentation, and improvisation. We currently bring together the musical traditions of North East Africa, Southern Africa, and West Africa. Guided by the African principle of Ujamaa: sharing knowledge and working together to pursue a common goal.

On Ujamaa…
The Swahili word ujamaa means ‘extended family’, ‘brotherhood’ or ‘socialism’; as a political concept, it asserts that a person becomes a person through the people or community.

What to expect…
The Melbourne African Traditional Ensemble produce a warm, halcyon sound which gently carries the listener through a ruminative, cerebral journey. While the broad latitude and depth of sounds derived from the traditional instruments belonging to the diaspora are distinct individually in timbre; tone and rhythm, they are beautifully united with the overlying warmth and tempo of the stringed instruments and vocals.

Each composition is carefully workshopped to bring out the best expression of togetherness, strength, humour, shared vision, passion and positive energy. The end result is a uniquely powerful, never heard before African groove that transcends colonial borders.

Sounds like…
Scintillating polyrhythms of the Mbira and foot percussion dance elegantly beneath the harmonies of strings; the Krar (five-stringed lyre) and the Masinqo (one-string violin). Blended into the seamless weave of this aural cloth is a remarkable vocal range, imprinting raw fibres of oral history from the folky voice of Limpopo born Valanga Khoza and his ancestral history of orators and storytellers, to the Eastern melodies and dulcet tones of Eritrean born Anbessa Gebrehiwot.

This will be MATE’s first performance outside Melbourne, and they are looking forward to sharing their unique sound with the people of Adelaide.

Ujamaa Nexus Arts

Manal Younus & Danny Seifu from the JAzmaris

In the second half of the performance, Manal Younus and the JAzmaris will be performing a new work, exploring ancestry, family, freedom, divide, community and self-love. Co-commissioned by Nexus Arts and Multicultural Arts Victoria, this will be a wonderful night of connection, thought-provoking stories and ancestral heritage of the African diaspora.

Ujamaa, Saturday 4 August, 7:30pm. Nexus Arts Venue, Lion Arts Centre. Cnr North Terrace and Morphett Street, City. TICKETS from $15 – $25

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