Wired for Sound - Southern Africa Mobile Recording Studio

Mozambique 2013

Recording Sessions

Catandica Manica

Catandica, Manica

Week 1

Catandica is a small but rapidly developing town that lies close to the border of Zimbabwe in central Mozambique and has a population of 29 000. The local school attracts students from as far afield as Beira; it is one of the few schools in the area offering Grades 11 and 12. The community radio station, Comunitaria Catandica, serves as a mouthpiece for locals to air community issues and have discussions but the content is often dominated by local government concerns and agendas. Transmitter problems and a lack of basic technical resources means that the radio can be down for weeks at a time. The Wired for Sound recording sessions took place in Portuguese ruins on Mount Serra Choa, in an ancient mango forest at a Catholic missionary station, and in the village of Makodamo on the outskirts of Catandica. The mountains surrounding Catandica are still littered with land mines.

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Liquissone Juliasse Nhamataira:

plays a variation of the traditional Pankwé- a harp-like instrument fitted into a casing (usually a calabash) for resonance and strung across one shoulder. Liquissone’s music expresses a traditional folk style; his lyrics are sung in Portuguese and Macua and are delivered through haunting repetitive vocals and cyclical strumming. There is a trance-like quality to his sound. Wired for Sound played guitar and flute over one of the tracks hoping to enhance the whimsical nature of the piece, and he loved it.

Mateus Mapinhane Charles:

is a singer and teacher at the local high school in Catandica, but aspires to become a full time musician and producer. He has set up a production studio at home where he records music for local artists, and he shoots music videos for them on his hand held digicam. Mapinhane’s music is influenced by the Chimurenga styles of neighbouring Zimbabwe, with lyrics characterised by social and political commentary.

Massimba Lanfa Mavano:

is Mateus Mapinhane Charles’ guitarist and although he doesn’t own an instrument he is an outstanding Sungura and Chimurenga guitar player. His pick-strum is a matchstick, eliciting a beautifully sharp twang. Massimba is also a singer, and the song we recorded with him observes how the local churches take advantage of people and their money.

Augusto Manejo:

is a renowned mbira player in Catandica. He plays the mbira nyunga nyunga. Attaching decorative bottle tops to the edge of these instruments is popular in Mozambique and creates a tinny distortion and resonance to the sound.

Nelito Lucas Meque and Armando Joaquim Sozinho:

are a duo from the port city of Beira and they attend school in Catandica (one of the few places in the area that offers Grade 11 and 12). Like many of the young musicians in Northern Mozambique, Nelito and Armando are heavily influenced by hip-hop, rap and the popular music coming out of Maputo and Angola. Their lyrics describe how their generation’s expectation of love and relationships is threatened by materialism and greed. They sing about betrayal, about girls who disregard traditional family values in pursuit of money and relationships centered around acquiring material goods.

Dumba Women’s Group:

are a traditional singing and dancing group composed of women spanning three generations. Their dances and songs have been passed down through maternal lines for generations and date back to the days of slavery. This song is a celebratory song, traditionally performed during the colonial period when a family member returned from far-off employment after an extended absence. Today it is used to celebrate achievements, to wish people good luck and most importantly to celebrate unity.

Furancungo, Tete

Furancungo, Tete

Week 2

Furancungo is situated just below Zambia, 165km north of the bustling town of Tete. It has a population of 125 000. The local radio station, Radio Planalto 102.5, has a listenership of over 100 000 and the airwaves reach north across the borders into Malawi and Zambia. Rusting military tanks punctuate the dirt road to Furancungo, and an abandoned military airfield used by Wired for Sound for the recording sessions serves as a constant reminder of the country’s turbulent past. Due to electrical surges, the radio station had one remaining operational computer. Radio Planalto is regularly shut down by local government due to its liberal community-driven content, yet manages to remain the most popular station in the area.

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Chaisoni Bicaus Bandeira:

was born in 1943 and plays a Pankwé-like instrument he constructed himself. Like many of the more traditional musicians he sings in the local language Cinyungwe, a language spoken by at least 87% of the population in Furancungo.

Marcelino Banda Mpombeza:

possesses a beautiful, full voice. His style is more traditional, but he was able to push his musical boundaries while recording and this song really shows off his talent. He sings about a father warning his daughter to protect her reputation, warning her not to go out after dark or be seen with too many men. He urges his generation to listen to their elders and use the opportunities created for them by the hard work of their parents and grandparents.

Sozinho Ernesto K. Banda:

or just plain Banda, is a singer songwriter and mixes Zouk and Marrabenta styles. His songs are full of energy and what he calls ‘playfulness’. His aim is to educate people about issues such HIV/ Aids and unemployment through music and a freedom of expression.

Marcelino Banda Mpombeza & Sozinho Ernesto K. Banda:

Marcelino & Sozinho collaborated together on one of the more experimental tracks on the album

Million Isaac Junior:

is a young gospel singer with an impressive vocal range. His wish is that Mozambique be blessed with peace and he wants his fellow citizens to feel love through his music. Million spoke to Wired for Sound about the harsh reality of being an unemployed subsistence farmer in Furancungo, a situation in which most of the young men in the area find themselves.


sings in a traditional Marrabenta style and, like many other local musicians in the area, has been recorded by amateur producers who travel across the border from Malawi. For the musicians involved, not much comes from these recordings and following a career in music seems to be little more than a pipe dream. Most of the musicians Wired for Sound worked with are forced into the agricultural sector to make money.

Pemba and Ibo, Cabo Delgado

Pemba & Ibo Island, Cabo Delgado

Week 3

In the Pemba District Wired for Sound visited the capital city of Pemba, Mbonje Village and Ibo Island, one of the islands in the Quirimbas Archipelago. Most of our time was spent at Radio Sem Fronteiras, a Catholic community radio station in the heart of Pemba. Recording sessions took place in the town’s abandoned cinema, in a village school in Mbonje and in Fort Soa Joao Batista (1791) on Ibo Island. Ibo island has a population of 4 500, and is well known for its silversmiths who use silver coins found on the beaches for their delicate rings and bracelets. The oil and gas boom has affected Pemba’s tourist industry and many of the resorts and short-term accommodation facilities serve as a home away from home for industry employees and their associated security personnel. The peninsula beaches, once reputed to harbour some of the best swimming in the world, are becoming polluted and locals advise visitors not to swim. Most speak positively about the development even though they are yet to see any real benefits trickle down.

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Mdy-k Raisse O Tesouro and Flay C Gazua Gazua:

are students who were in their final year of high school at the time of recording. They also worked as street hawkers for Movitel (one of the major cell phone providers in Mozambique). The song they recorded with Wired for Sound unravels the reality and horror of domestic violence in Mozambique. They call on women and families to be courageous and stand up against domestic abuse. Flay C wants to pursue a career in music once he has completed his studies and Mdy-k hopes to become a doctor. Their influences are hip-hop artists from Mozambique, Angola and Tanzania.

Inez Manuel Sezarinho:

is an aspiring journalist passionate about gender equality in Mozambique. She believes that women are still sidelined, despite legislation introduced in the nineties that attempted to increase the number of Mozambican women in leadership positions. Inequality is particularly prevalent in rural areas because of a limited access to education. The song Inez recorded is about a young woman with two children who finds out her husband has another wife and family - it is the story of her neighbour.


lives in Mbonje village about two hours outside of Pemba. He is blind and plays Rebecca, his Pankwé style instrument, along with his percussionist ze Batista.

Minesterio Evangelico de Mbonje:

is the local evangelical choir in Mbonje. The lead singer is a seventeen-year-old local girl who has been singing with the choir from the age of ten. The song Wired for Sound recorded with the choir is a parable about how the church can deliver one from a life of thieving and prostitution.

4 Boys Mbonje:

are four schoolboys from the Mbonje Village influenced by the hip-hop stars of Tanzania, Angola and Mozambique. Berto, Domingoes, Antonio and Riquotto sing about the prevention of HIV/Aids. This song urges their contemporaries to practice safe sex and get tested.

Acedemico and Pimento:

are a young duo who head up the Mapiko drumming and dancing youth group on the island. They cannot really speak English, but after some research they co-wrote a song that has quirky appeal with lyrics like, "My most wonderful baby my wife... I want to marry you very well." Acedemico is one of the local teachers. He says that about half the island's population is made up of young people. His name is the combination of the first letter of each family member's name.

Mapiko Youth Drumming and Singing Group:

is a group made up of high school girls and boys who meet on an old basketball court on the island to practice, usually after sunset. Their drums are tuned on a fire made on the side of the court. The word ‘Mapiko’ means mask making, shape shifting and wonder in Mozambique. It refers to a style of singing, dancing (performed with masks) and drumming that has a dissimilar rhythm and timing to western styles. The offbeat and rapid drumming give this song a captivating quality.

Ilha de Mozambique, Nampula

Ilha de Mozambique, Nampula

Week 4

Ilha de Mozambique lies in central Nampula province and is connected to the mainland by a 3km single lane bridge erected in the 1960s. The island itself is 3.2km long and 500m wide. It was a major Arab port before the time of Vasco da Gama and you can still hear the Arabic influences in the music on the island. Radio On'hipiti 103.9 operates at certain times of the day and recording sessions took place in the abandoned buildings next door to the station. The island turned 195 during the Wired for Sound visit, which was dominated by music, dance and the annual motorbike rally.

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Harry Potter (aka Genitomolava Molava):

is a twenty-four-year-old tour guide from the harbour town of Nacala living on Ilha de Mozambique. He has taught himself several languages by guiding and befriending tourists on the island. He is a jack of many trades but has always wanted to make a name for himself by rapping in Macua. He wrote a song about preserving his ancestry, acknowledging what his grandfather did for Mozambique and the traditions young people should respect and maintain today. Harry’s voice and music is reminiscent of the island’s rich Arabic history.


plays a simple version of the Pankwé placed on the floor in font of the musician. People on the island gather in the streets to listen to “the old man” play and sing at dusk. He also occasionally performs with his wife at local events that take place in the island’s fort: Sao Sebastiao (built in the 16th century).


is one of the local artists who sings at events across Nampula. She lives on the island with her husband and daughter and believes in traditional expression through both music and dress. Atija’s lyrics celebrate all the Portuguese-speaking countries of the world, calling for unity amongst them. She also believes it is very important for women to wear the Kapulana as a sign of respect and to keep traditions from fading away.

Niassa Nature Reserve

Niassa Nature Reserve

Week 5

The reserve is a 42 000 square kilometre tract of land lying below the Tanzanian border. It is said to be one of the last truly wild places in Africa. There is a rapidly expanding population of around 40 000 villagers inhabiting the reserve. Large-scale poaching and a growing tension between animals and villagers due to a struggle for land means that Niassa Reserve is rife with environmental and social challenges. Recording sessions took place on the dry Lugenda Riverbed with resident elephants watching from the banks.

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John Issa Band:

has quite literally put together a five-piece band over the last decade. The drum kit consists of several yellow plastic fuel jerry cans; a hairdryer and an old speaker head stuck into an extended loudhailer are the microphones; while the two electric guitars and bass are fashioned out of solid pieces of wood, bicycle brake cables and pot lids. These are linked via simple pickups to a collection of radio hi-fis which work as amplifiers.

2013 Radio Documentary

As radio enthusiasts we work in partnership with community radio stations to get young people's voices and local music on to radio. We create a radio documentary (both in English and the local language) per trip as a way to give people a deeper sense of the places we go, musicians we meet and work with as well as our experiences on the road.

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