CC 2014 #5 Namibia
Producer, Commonwealth Connections
My colleague Roger Short and I arrive at night; several bats are flying around outside the airport and a couple of large black beetles scuttle into the arrivals lounge, alongside the passengers.
We drive to Zelda Game Farm, close to the Botswana border; to meet a Nharo family, one of the many indigenous hunter gatherer communities of southern Africa, sometimes collectively referred to as the San. They have one of the oldest genetic lineages stretching back thousands of years, from which all modern humans may originate. One thing is certain, they are some of the warmest and friendliest people we meet on our trip.
the Nharo family
Xasa speaks to us in beautiful and rhythmic Xhosa, also known as the ‘click language’. The various southern Africa languages and speech patterns that I hear throughout our trip seem to connect directly to the music. It has a heartbeat through it unlike any Western Music I’ve heard - whether through obvious rhythmic dancing and clapping or the natural punctuation of the languages of the songs.
For most of the performance Xasa and the other women in her family sit in on floor and the men dance and move round them in a circle. The moth cocoons wrapped round the men’s ankles act as shakers, adding to the rhythmic clapping and singing. The whole thing becomes quite hypnotic – very in keeping with the healing trances used by the elders.
Elemotho and Sam
Commonwealth Connections is broadcast on BBC Radio 3 as part of World On 3 (Friday 11pm-1am) the series runs until the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow this July.
Recording Elemotho and Sam at Avis Dam, Namibia