So, it’s been almost two months since we arrived in Malawi. I’m sitting in my bed, hearing Markus, my fellow Norwegian MOVEr, practicing the pandeiro in the living room. I’m surprised I have gotten so used to this place, that I’ve forgotten a lot of the new feelings from the first weeks.
But to be honest, I’ve felt at home here from day one. And I haven’t missed home even once. Malawi has, for me, been a very easy place to feel at home. I was really surprised how similar Malawians are to Norwegians in very many ways. They are kind of shy like I’m used to in Norway, even though they’re in general a little more outgoing than most Norwegians, in my impression. After these two months I found myself surrounded by so many good people, that I rarely find myself without anything fun to do, or without anyone nice to hang out with. And I’m intrigued by all the interesting conversations we’ve had about many topics like religion, politics, economy and social norms.
The first month of mine and Markus’ stay in Malawi was spent in the capital city, Lilongwe, together with six other MOVE participants. After that – three weeks ago now – me and Markus moved to the small town of Nkhotakota, which will be our main base through the rest of our stay. In Lilongwe we got used to seing happy chickens and their mothers roaming freely everywhere, finding their way home by themselves at night. In Nkhotakota, we meet goats (and the cuutest small baby goats!) almost every time we walk out of our house. They like to stay in our garden, together with more hens and chickens. Thus, I’m blessed with the view of small baby goats tumbling around on their very new legs, trying to run after their mother goat as I disturb them from their slumber. I often stop to take in how happy it makes me feel to be surrounded by these animals.
Other perks about living in Nkhotakota is that we are surrounded by mango trees everywhere we go, and mango season is just around the corner. Also, there are few things better than to sit on the back of one of the many dumpers (bicycle taxis) that dominate the streets, feeling the warm breeze on your face while you take in the calm surroundings. The dumpers mainly share the streets of Nkhotakota with people walking to and fro’, carrying all their heavy loads on their heads or on the back of their bicycles (I have several times seen people transporting queen size beds on the back of their bikes in Lilongwe too – something to inspire students in Norway!) – or even carrying their loads on their head while sitting on the back of a dumper. I hope to be able to carry stuff on my head, and take my furniture on my bike before leaving this country.
As for our work, me and Markus spend our days working at the Nkhotakota Youth Organization (NYO), which is a combination of a school for vocational skills (tailoring, welding, carpentry and ICT) and a cultural center with a music school. Me and Markus are part of the cultural center department, where we work as music teachers and organizers. We have this far, together with the rest of our collegues from the cultural center, organized one jazz night and a talent show, and this coming friday we are hosting an open mic/jam night, to nurture the musical network in the city. We are also working on a mini festival here in November, and a big festival (Nkhotakota Music Festival) in April next year. Furthermore, we have been doing a recruitment tour at some local schools, which has been a lot of fun. And now we’re planning to start a teachers’ band at NYO. This will be in addition to the MOVE band in Lilongwe (we’re called Chaka band), with which we’ve already played a few small gigs. So even though we stay in Nkhotakota, we frequently take trips to Lilongwe for band practice and gigs, and to meet our friends there. Next week we are going there again for a whole week of practice and preperations before we will both be responsible for running the small stage at Tumaini festival , and we will play on the main stage(!). So, our days here in Nkhotakota are crammed with teaching, organizing and planning, practice and hanging out with friends. I have also found that people here love football and volleyball, and as a former football player – and an owner of a new pair of football boots – I’m looking forwards to start playing the locals, as well.
Good morning everyone, or as people here say, DZI XILE! It’s changana. It’s been a little more than a month since MOVER’s arrived in Maputo and in this short time we already have some nice things to share, so grab some nice food that you like to eat and come with us, to find out what the beginning of our adventure is.
Speaking of delicious food, on the second day in our new house we were introduced to a typical Mozambican food, the Badjias, a dough of beans fried in the oil that, if we put on the bread gets even better, mmm. Every day early, mothers – form of treatment for older women – fry the badjias, so if you like to wake up early be sure to eat them on bread for breakfast. Ah! It’s only 20 meticais. You can also find mothers selling a wide variety of fruits, vegetables and various things on the streets. Here on the side of the house there are several small shops like these, it’s better than fast food delivery.
Maputo is the capital of Mozambique and is surrounded by small towns called provinces. The city receives a unique cultural plurality, being able to be found other Brazilians, Portuguese, Indians, descendants of Arab, Chinese and people from all parts of Africa. The traditional Mozambican culture is present in our daily lives, whether through clothing made with kapulana, a traditional cloth; by the mother language, there are 43 different languages according to the Ethnologue. In Maputo the most spoken is changana – and we cannot forget the dance and music, which are forms of cultural resistance.
We went jamming in three different places in the evening, where we got together and played jazz, traditional music and sometimes even samba! Which to our surprise is very popular in Maputo. On Wednesday we had the performance group with Professor Terêncio – guitar teacher from Music Crossroads Academy Mozambique – who performed at Gil Vicente. On every Thursday and Friday we have the Jam session at the Association of musicians, which brings together several musicians from Maputo, and sometimes musicians from different countries, to play various musical genres. On Saturday we have jazz night at Fernando Leite Couto Foundation.
We are assisting the teachers during classes at Music Crossroads, making new friendships and we have already started on the LOUD and Massana project. Next month we’ll start at SOS and Moudjo Kids. For the next month we will have more music, more BADJIAS and we will perform the first concert of MOVE BAND Maputo, we have not yet decided the name, so stay tuned for the next chapter of this adventure.
Ah! We have some tips for those who want to venture through these lands, be careful when crossing the street! They drive in the English way, so if you’re not used to it, look four times before you cross. The next tip is to try to talk changana, even if it’s the basics. The people here love to listen to foreigners speak their mother language, making it possible to make new friends more easily. And do not forget to drink plenty of water, the summer is coming and it’s getting really hot.
I can’t believe it has been almost a month since we arrived in Brazil. It feels like we just came here. However, these last weeks have been eventful and exciting, and I will now tell you little of what we have been doing and what I have experienced.
When we first arrived we went to São Paulo, the largest city in Brazil. We stayed there for one day, meeting with the leaders of Projeto Guri, the organization we are working with, and got to look a bit around in the city. After that our two groups split up, sending one group to a city called Marília, and sending me, Darius and Ivo to São José Dos Campos.
São José Dos Campos is located about 1 ½ hours away from São Paulo City, and it is a quite big city. Its location makes it easy to travel to São Paulo, which I want to do during my stay, and it is also not far away from the coast, which makes it possible to take a daytrip to go to the beach!
The first day here we were well greeted by our local team, who had made “Feijoada” a traditional Brazilian dish (Very good!) and introduced us to our new apartment.
The view from our apartment
When driving into São José Dos Campos
These first weeks have been what we can call “introductory weeks”. We have been introduced to different Projeto Guri centers inside and outside of the city, where we’ve observed and participated in music classes and gotten to meet the teachers and students. Visiting these different places has been very fun and interesting. Last week we visited the cities Ubatuba and Caraguatatuba. We went to the Projeto Guri centers there and met the teachers and students, who showed us some traditional Brazilian music and dances! It was a very nice experience!
We also took a ferry to the beautiful Ihlabela, and spent a night exploring the center and the wonderful beaches there.
We have also gotten to know some local parks, food stores, restaurants and shopping centers here in São José Dos Campos. But the city is, as I mentioned, quite big, so it will probably take some time to really get to know it. I spent one day wandering around in the city center, hoping to understand it. The only thing I learned was that here in Brazil, you will find flipflops wherever you go. Every store, supermarket, even in the pharmacies… they always have flipflops.
One thing we’ve had to get used to is the fact that almost no-one speaks English, which makes communication with the locals a bit difficult. Luckily, we are receiving Portuguese lessons, so I hope to be fluent soon! But for now, I just have to live with the fact that Google Translator is my new best friend.
What’s Going to Happen Next?
Now that we have gotten somewhat acquainted here, we are going to plan what we’ll be doing. In the next month we will mainly participate in music- and Portuguese classes, and then after some time we are going to organize our own musical projects. We are also going to start a MOVE-band with some of the other people that work here. The plan is to make a repertoire with music from Norway, Malawi and Mozambique and then playing some concerts in the city.
I am excited about our next months and looking forward to seeing what our everyday lives will be like. São José Dos Campos seems like a good city, where there are a lot of concerts and other cultural events. So, I hope that I get to explore the city and what it has to offer!
Now we are almost going back to our countries. I see how hard it is to write about my experience now and not think about the goodbye, about everything that I will leave behind. So many goodbyes. I lived here for nine months and it really seems like a lifetime, but it was a lifetime, an original, weird and challenging lifetime. I created a completely new set of friends, I got a new job, in a new country, in a new city, in a new house with nine people. Yeah. Nine people.
At the house, when everyone is here, we have two Mozambicans, two Brazilians (me included), four Norwegians and one Malawian. It is quite a lot of people for a not-so-big house. This means a lot of shocks, especially cultural shocks. They warned us at the pre-course, I know, but the struggle is real. Like, imagine you, reader, living in a not-so-big house, with eight people that you had never met, of four different nationalities, speaking different languages with completely different backgrounds. Not easy, right?
Through all the cultural shocks, we had to create a band. First you think that will be OK, that everything will work out fine and you will be playing amazingly together in the first try. Four different nationalities, some songs each and we are done, but no. Working with people is always harder then you think and we ended up facing another big cultural shock. The way that people work and interact changes completely between cultures and, with the band, we saw it clearly. It was one of our biggest challenges, but we built a band that works.
After all these months living together, we all became a big family. I think it is just like a song with a slow beginning, a couple of dissonances here and there, but a great resolution after all, expressed in the way that we live now with respect and lots of friendship. It is even hard to think about living without them. In two weeks we are being separated, coming back to our countries and to our other life. We’ve been together the last nine months and now we are maybe never seeing each other again, which is scary.
Coming back is scary too. It is hard to know what to expect. Did people change? Did they change as much as I did? I know that I changed a lot. Being here opened my mind in several ways, made me grow as an individual and as a professional musician. Coming out of my mother’s house for the first time and already jumping to Malawi is a big change, but everything added some knowledge and I couldn’t be happier about my choice.
Now we come back to our previous normal lives. We come back to the people that stayed and are waiting for us. I can’t wait to see everyone again, to eat my country’s food, to walk on the streets of my city and do everything that I miss, and I miss a lot of things. It is incredible how you discover that you miss many small things that you never gave a thought. Like a hot shower or a nice afternoon coffee break.
You see the contrast? One side of me is amazingly happy about going home and the other is really sad about leaving. I am trying to think less, to enjoy my last moments with these guys that I will miss so much, but is hard not to think, not to feel this conflict and not to express it. It has been so hard, but so worth it. I know I will miss this so much and the happiness that has come from living here will overcome the sadness.
How I imagined Malawi before going and how it actually turned out to be, was not at all what I had pictured. The funny thing is that instead of being showed, like so many do, how so many of us have a wrong picture of African countries (Because of course they are all the same and have no differences between them, not like Europe, even though Africa is a continent a lot bigger than Europe… Right!?..) Anyway back to the point: I actually ended up being shocked, when I first arrived, and the impact for me was the opposite… The houses, markets, children in the streets, not least the infrastructure, were so much like in all those movies and commercials. I remember thinking one of the first days, after walking around our area, Chilinde, «what have I gotten myself into», the impact had been so heavy that I couldn’t imagine surviving the next nine months.
Now Lilongwe is the capital and our house is in Chilinde, the «getho» as people would call it. As I would discover, there were a lot of other, very different parts of the city too. Areas with nice hotels, lodges, restaurants, shopping centers, and «New Town»; with all the governmental buildings were something completely different, much more like in Europe. But I new well, hearing from previous participants, that where I was going next, Nkhotakota, all these things would be nonexistent. Still thinking back now, seeing pictures, I am reminded that it didn’t take very long until we embraced these new places with such different everyday lives, both in Lilongwe at first and then in KK (Nkhotakota).
Playing some football on our street in Chilinde.
So after one month in Lilongwe Jakob, another Norwegian, and I were to move to Nkhotakota. Now I wont lie, the first months of this exchange were difficult sometimes, and I remember how bitter I was at times, in the begging, that I wasn’t in Lilongwe. I like people, a lot of company, and in KK there was less happening than in Lilongwe. And KK is hot, and I mean REALY HOT, even all the Malawians would be like «Oh you live in Nkhotakota, aahh that place is too hot». Let´s not forget we arrived in Malawi during dry season, the worst in temperature and also not as pleasant in scenery.
December (different location of course, but still…)
During the first months we would have electricity maximum 8 hours of a total of 24 hours, sometimes water, never both. I got over my spider fear how, well by getting an even stronger phobia of cockroaches, and we would have about four every evening even though I killed them every time… But KK life also offered, at times the beautiful lake and some adrenaline as well:
Three weeks in:
At the «bus station» we meet up with the others and quickly find a minibus. The man points at the empty row of «seats», if you can call it that, okay unless I´m mistaken we are sitting the wrong way, but yea no worries. Then when the three of us squeeze in beside each other I realize, and turn to my friend Thea, «Wait are we driving with the door open?» Both of us see clearly that there is no way the door can close with our legs in the way. To our somewhat relief the driver grabs a thread from the bottom of the van and attaches it to the door so it is half a meter from being closed. Okay, interesting. During the trip we stop quite a few times rearranging the seating situation, some get out and get on a dumper (bicycle-taxi) for a while, «in case police» someone explains. You see we are sitting 15 people, at least, in a 7 people car. Then comes the motorbikes. Nervously I put on a helmet, that´s way to big, I get on the back of the bike, behind the driver and grab onto the back of my seat, a bit worried. Basically the whole way we are driving through a sandy, rocky, crazy humpy thing of a road. And all these things are going through my head: if the bike were to fall over, hitting something, or doing a sudden turn, the helmet would be completely useless and I would, if not die, get my whole skin peeled off like an orange. During the ride the driver starts to rub his eyes here and there, and I´m thinking well no wonder, look at the road, why aren’t you using any glasses? at least some sunglasses!? This is not how I imagines it would feel like to sit on a motorbike for the first time… oh and during the whole trip I am clinging onto my flip-flops as hard as I can, as the strap had loosened from the bottom.
It´s time for bed, we get into the lodge-room and get surprised seeing millions of lake flies inside. We decide to try to sleep, get into bed and realize there are dozens of them inside the mosquito netting. We realize quickly that it will be impossible to sleep and go out searching for help. We get back to the room with this kind guard and his Raid box, he sprays the room and empties the box. The man leaves and Thea and I are left with crazy coughs, NB: Raid is hazardous and should not be breathed in…, And while laying in bed we are both making remarks about how it wouldn’t be surprising if we just never woke up the next morning from poisoning or suffocation.
The bike comes to pick me up by the lodge the next morning, this time it will take me all the way back home. The driver forgot the helmet. Well «not that it would make any difference really» I think and I get on the bike, barefoot. Yea the flip-flops aren’t´ doing it for me. So the bumpy ride begins and stops after 5 meters. Oh okay this bike isn’t 100%, he manages to start it again, 2 meters and it stops. This time it takes longer to start it, but after that we are on our way. Again my head fills with thoughts. «Malawi is nr. 2 in most dangerous traffic» «They charge that much because they aren’t always licensed, so if the police catches them..» Here and there I hear the bike shutting down «Does the brakes work when the motor is off!?» «Please don’t go faster than this, please take it easSHIT» -the bike jumps exceptionally high and I am certain I am flying off the bike, but then I feel the seat under me again. «Few». As we reach the car road, I am not sure I am relived or more scared, because now he´ll definitely speed up. It all happens so quickly, he´s going quite fast, there´s a lot of goats in the road, one starts running across, in front, the biker swings, but then the goat changes his mind too, and I´m certain we will crash. This is it, I will die in a traffic accident involving a goat. But the biker is quick and avoids it smoothly.
I think this also is the right place to throw in that one time a chicken ran into the road in front of my bike, and no this wasn’t the start of a joke…
You don’t actually realize how much you’ve changed and adjusted until you suddenly get thrown into, or in this case thrown back to, a different environment. Like during my travels with my sister to Cape Town, Maputo and Zambia. I remember sitting in the taxi with her from the airport in Cape Town, and get completely awed by the street lights, (we don’t really have them in Malawi, I at least never see them turned on) and not just that; the motorways, the cars, huge buildings, shopping centers, the music played on the radio, everything. Not to mention no kids running after you, yelling «Azungu, azungu, azungu» «Azungu Bho!».
Cape Town seen from Lion´s Head
Azungu means white people
My sister, who is a FK participant in Zambia, actually lives in a village with a Zambian family. I remember how she looked forward to showing me the real village life. And of course the standard of her living was very different from mine, but as it turned out, nothing really shocked me, showing me around my reaction to almost everything was «Yeah, this is kind of like Nkhotakota» and she was surprised to hear that a Malawian town would be more similar to a Zambian village. I had thought the difference between Zambia and Malawi wouldn’t be so big, but it was. Granted I was in Livingstone, a tourist city, but still, the change from Nkhotakota was big. Again big buildings everywhere, much more general stable infrastructure, even the houses and village «huts» seemed a bit nicer than in Malawi, and Zambia is after all richer and more developed than Malawi. Also the people didn’t really care that we were white, and it was much easier to walk around without being looked at constantly.
The subtitle of this story has mainly been how getting used to everything actually turned out to be much easier than you’d imagine.
Two weeks ago we were at Ethno Camp Malawi, that the MOVErs were a part of arranging. Besides learning about different ethno-music and dances, we also ate Malawian style. And if there is one thing that is very Malawian it´s Nsima. When we first got introduced to this Nsima, made of only maize flour and water, who would have thought, least of all us, that we´d be eating Nsima for a week and not just be completely fine with it, but actually enjoy it and look forward to eating it.
Something I think we all have gotten, maybe a bit dangerously, used to is everyday life risks that comes with living in this country. I have already mentioned the traffic, then there is the handling of electricity and electric equipment. The fact that this is how everyone plugs into the sockets:…
The fact that we have a water boiler at our house in KK that is currently melted into the wall/socket. And some other examples:
THIS is what a whole stage-setup relied on…
But why is Malawi amazing: It is a beautiful country with beautiful people. It has most things one could wish to experience traveling, from a lake that feels like the sea, to beautiful mountains, safari opportunities, and the best part is that it´s all within a relatively short distance. And Malawi is truly the warm heart of Africa, because of its immensely warm and kind people. Kids and grownups who greet you on the street and get super exited just because you made an effort to speak a few words in Chichewa. Yes sometimes it seems like nothing is working and everything is chaos, but what I really have benefited from personally this year is the tempo. The fact that everyone always tells you, don’t worry, it will be okay. No stress, no rush, no hurry, something we could all benefit from with our hectic Norwegian, always productive, hurried lives.
Before I went on my exchange to Brazil I had a lot of questions about what a year abroad can be like. Where do you live? Who do you live with? How does a normal day look like? What is all this talk about projects? How can it be to work with and communicate with people in a language you don’t know?
As you understand, I had a lot of questions, and now I will give you some answers from my experiences in São José dos Campos, Brazil.
BEM VINDO AO BRASIL||WELCOME TO BRAZIL
Here in Brazil we are two groups of three people in two cities. One group in the city São Carlos, and one group in the city São José dos Campos (SJC). Both cities are in the state of São Paulo. Here in SJC I am sharing an apartment with John from Malawi and Calisto from Mozambique. A cute little apartment with one kitchen, a living room, a terrace, two bedrooms and two bathrooms. The apartment lays 50 meters from a super marked that is open 24h seven days per week. That makes it easy to go shopping when you need. Our place is also located so it is easy to take the bus or to go by foot or bike to the center of the city or to work.
As the Norwegian driving license is not valid here in Brazil, we have to use public transport as bus or Uber. We also have a bike each free to use, but for me it is too hot to go by bike when I am going somewhere. I prefer to take the bus to work or town. The price for the bus here is R$ 4,10 (almost 10kr). And a small tip for you who are not used to give a sign to the bus for letting him know that you want to jump on, you will have to be prepared to lose the bus, HAHAHA. The first time i tried to take the bus, I was not aware of that I had to wave with my arm to stop the bus – so I lost it… but learnt quickly!
When people say to you that Brazilians don’t speak English, it is a pure fact. You might think “But English is a universal language, they have to understand something”, but no… If you are going to Brazil you should be very open to learn their language, because it is easier as you as one person tries to learn a new language, than if everyone you meet should try to communicate with you with the few English words they know. And during learning the language you will get so happy when you manage to communicate with people. Portuguese is a complexed language with many rules and grammar, but it is totally possible to learn so you survive in a daily life. The first weeks, I had a lot of problems with understanding what the people in the store tried to say to me, what the students and teachers at the Guri polo where we work tried to explain, or to understand what the news were about on TV. I simply tried to be understood through my best friend at that time – my Google Translate app — and hand gesticulations! I used it for everything, and as I got more and more used to the language, and learnt more and more rules and words in our Portuguese classes, I managed to speak and write in Portuguese. Today I even think in Portuguese!! The tip for you to open up your Portuguese-door, is to speak. Talk to people, try, do not be scared. Brazilians want to talk to you even when you don’t understand anything!
IT. IS. SO. HOT. HERE. Because Brazil is located on the southern hemisphere, the seasons are the opposite of what they are in Norway, so when I arrived it was the end of the winter here, with 25°C (not so much like winter for a person who comes from a country that barely reach 25°C during the summer). I had a tough time to get used to the weather here, but after a while going around with a moist and humid body becomes normal. And even two showers per day helps to feel a little bit fresher in the tropical climate here. The summer in Brazil is from December to March. This is the time for powerful sun, followed by powerful rain together with powerful thunder. During one day you may get everything. The temperatures are around 20-25°C during the night and in this city, it has this year reached 35-36°C during the day, but it feels warmer in the sun, believe me! Your bottle of water becomes your company during the days. And when you live in this heath, believe it or not, but you start to miss the cold north a bit and to go with big sweaters and jackets. You simply forget how it feels on the body to be cold!
Normal days ~ Weekends ~ Holidays
Ok, so a normal day for me looks a bit like the time schedule I had in school with different classes and teachers. Every Tuesday to Friday I go to the Guri polo, that works sort of like the Norwegian “Kulturskole”. Here children from 8 to 18 years come and get lessons in different instruments and theory for free. I am attending classes in choir, music for beginners (6-8 years old), percussion, violin and trumpet. In these lessons I am a student like the children, but meanwhile I work as an assistant and can help with organizing and share from my knowledge. The children are curious to learn about your country, culture and language. Be prepared for daily children interviews!
In the weekends you are free to do what you want, and I have found a symphonic band in the neighbour city to join to play music on a higher level as well. This band has helped me to get to know people and I have made a great network of friends here, so I have always someone to be with in the weekends to go and have fun with, make a BBQ-party with or play music with. The symphonic band has also helped me with practicing my Portuguese, in that way that I know what they are talking about when we are playing because music is a language we all have in common. The magic of music – the universal language.
Here in Brazil they have the “Summer holiday” from Christmas and almost until the Carnival in the beginning of February. As the word says – holiday – you are free to explore, travel, learn more, experience something New as you want. As São José dos Campos is a city quite close to the sea it is possible to take a daytrip to the beach (one and a half hour with car) or take some days in one of the cities along the coastline. But stay prepared for a lot of people, you are not the only one that have in mine to go to the beach… You are sharing this thought with almost 90 percent of the population that lives in the cities around.
During our stay here, we have to start up a/some project(s). As Projeto Guri already is an organization well organized that offers a lot of teaching in music and instruments, it can be hard to try to think out something new to come up with. But in the kitchen where it exists flavour, it is always possible to try to make a new cake! So I have started up a project called “Maestro” where I challenge the students that play wind instruments in the band at the polo, to learn how to conduct and lead a group of musicians. I have arranged the Norwegian song “Sommerfugl i vinterland” that we are conducting to and playing in the band. The kids are curious to learn new things!
I have also started up a project outside the polo, where I am doing workshops in Fundacão Casa (youth prison) in the two neighbour cities Jacareí and Taubaté. Here I am teaching the prisoners songs and games from Norway. We have been playing the game Hihaho and singing the song Sommer kommer, and the youths are really curious to learn
about what exists outside Brazil. I have also had a focus on conversation with the youths about what they like to do, and what dreams they have in life to make them think of their time in prison just as a short phase in their lives, and show them that they have possibilities in life as well as a non-criminal.
I am really happy to be able to do this project. To be a youth boy in the age 15-18 that sits in prison day in and day out, has a tough, boring and sad life. But during the workshops they suddenly start singing, dancing and laughing together – that is a wonderful sight that makes me smile every time I go home from a project day in Fundacão Casa.
And what now…
When you reach Brazil, you may think that nine months away is a long time, but believe me: THE TIME IS RUNNING LIKE A MOUSE THAT IS HUNTED BY A CAT WHEN THE CAT HASN’T BEEN EATING FOR FOUR DAYS! In other words, the time passes quick here, because we always have so much to do and there always are new things to experience. Now it is under two months to I have my two legs on the ground again in Norway, and I have already started worrying about going home, because I don’t want to leave my life and everyone here 😦
But before going home there are more things happening. I am going to make a Norwegians day with my travelling buddy that lives in São Carlos, Kristoffer. We are making a day with activities, facts, food and culture from Norway to show the Brazilians about Norway. We are also doing a project to make a MOVE-band with all the MOVE participants in Brazil. The plan is to make a concert and do some shows. When all these plans are completed, the last days of our exchange are in front of us, and the date on the air plane tickets is the same as in the calender. In other words: The 9 months in Brazil are coming to the end.
What do they really get up to down there in Mozambique? If this is what you are thinking, it´s your lucky day, because I am going to tell you (or at least write you). We work at Music Crossroads Academy in Maputo but have projects all around the city.
When you are on an exchange like MOVE you get a few things that land in your lap, and eventually also some things which you yourself initiate. A lot of the time you are handed an opportunity followed by the question: «Could you do this? », then you just say yes and get to churn it into your own project.
We work with kids at the SOS children´s village offering them music lessons after school hours. When we are doing these lessons a lot of people are in action. Chisomo is doing dance lessons with Malawian traditional dances, as well as some more modern dances. With Tiyamike they have percussion lessons on djembe and congas, and sometimes also body percussion. They also get different percussion lessons with Brazilian rhythms. On top of it all they have piano and guitar lessons. All in all, we are a lot of people working and have a lot of happy kids playing music and having fun. There is also the occasional Capoeira.
Marcelo is teaching the kids at SOS guitar just as much as they are teaching each other
LOUD Girls Rock Camp is a project focusing on girls´ role in music, helping girls fulfill their potential as rock stars and giving them some female role models within music. Not just in Mozambique, but in all of the world you will find that girls most often are singers and dancers, and the other roles in the band are all filled by boys. The idea of being a rock star is so closely related to the male gender, and it doesn´t need to be.
LOUD was started by last year´s participant Ingrid, and the DIVAS bans. When we arrived here in August me and Chisomo were tossed in to the last leg of LOUD 2017, and in October we were a part of the first LOUD camp in Southern Africa.
Festival work is a great way to make connections within the music industry. You get to work with people from all the different corners of the industry and learn a lot. We worked with the first edition of the Mozambique Music Meeting which happened at the start of December last year. It was a great learning experience, and we got to know a lot of people in the industry, not just here in Mozambique but from all over the world. We are going to be working on the AZGO festival which in another big scale international festival here in Maputo.
Working at MMM with the Delegates reception
Music Crossroads also puts up a few festivals throughout the year which we help out with in different ways. In November we had the Gutsaka festival, a festival focused on kids full of music and fun activities. We are also doing the second edition of the Food and music Fusion festival, with input from all our different countries.
Massana is a youth center here in Maputo aiming to get kids off the streets. They take in street kids give them something to eat an opportunity to clean their clothes and go to school. The Movers go to Massana to give music lessons to the kids there. Teaching piano, guitar, and percussion.
Muodjo is another project that works with street kids but on the other side of the city, Katembe. The kids from Muodjo come in to Music crossroads in the mornings to have music lessons. For the moment there are kids learning guitar and kids learning piano.
This project works a little bit differently than the others because you´re working with one or two kids at a time. It is a different scenario where you have more time to focus on each student, and it is less play and more of a school feeling for the students.
STUDIO AND SINGING LESSONS
There is also a small studio at music crossroads at disposal for those who like. Marcelo and Benjamin are the ones who mainly have been using it producing some of their own songs, as well as helping out with people at Crossroads who want to use it.
For the moment the singing lessons at Music Crossroads are over skype. The teacher is living in Portugal studying, so we have practices throughout the week and accompanying the singers and giving feedback. When the lessons comes along we are also there to play with them and get the feedback from the teacher which we use to make progress the next week.