Read any article about Mozambique at the moment and you are likely to be bombarded with glowing statistics about the country’s economic growth, and in particular the coal-fuelled boom in Tete province. But this is just one side of the story.
Despite the optimistic headlines, most people are excluded from any of the benefits of Mozambique’s soaring GDP and continue to face a bleak future, struggling to overcome poverty, unemployment and lack of access to basic services. This is especially true of the youth in the country’s northern provinces, who also battle to access information and to participate in debates about their concerns and their futures.
Which is where Wired for Sound comes in.
Dreamed up by Simon Attwell, a founding member of the South African band Freshlyground, and Kim Winter, a social anthropologist and SAfm radio producer/presenter, the project will give marginalised youth in five of Mozambique’s northern provinces the opportunity to openly discuss their rights and other critical issues – both locally via community radio stations and internationally via social and traditional media.
Traveling for six weeks through Manica, Tete, Niassa, Nampula and Cabo Delgado with a fully professional, mobile recording and production studio, Simon and Kim – and Julio Sigauque, the Mozambican lead guitarist from Freshlyground – will be able to stop at any point on their road trip and collect recordings of what young people are doing, saying and creating, while also collaborating with local musicians.
“Our mobile studio will allow us to record and then broadcast the thoughts of young Mozambicans who may not have had the chance to publicly air their views or share their stories and ambitions,” said Simon. “We will also be able to tap some of the hidden musical talent in northern Mozambique, working with local artists to produce professionally-recorded material that can be aired on community stations – and hopefully internationally in future.”
Indeed, the musical aspect is critical to the whole project. Not only will Wired for Sound help to promote local musicians and new contemporary Mozambican music – from areas that are difficult to access or usually neglected and ‘silent’ – but it will also stimulate conversation and dialogue about youth rights and other issues by using music and musical recording sessions.
“There is some great music in northern Mozambique that needs a broader stage and bigger audience,” said Julio, who is the chief musical advisor on the project. “But collaborating with local musicians will also help to break down some of the barriers that exist – that stop young Mozambicans from speaking out – and encourage them to express themselves publicly and powerfully on their most pressing issues.”
Run in collaboration with the Forum of Community Radio Stations in Mozambique (FORCOM) and funded by OSISA and the Open Society Foundations Youth Initiative and Media programme, Wired for Sound will initiate youth-centred debates on community radio in all five provinces, while also providing the stations with additional material, including musical recordings, documentaries and interviews with young artists and individuals.
The material will also be used for a radio documentary to be broadcast internationally – and for regular updates via social media.
“We intend to put up as much material as possible on Facebook, twitter and instagram so that people can track our trip – and learn more about the reality behind the ‘Mozambique is booming’ headlines,” said Kim, who is a radio documentary enthusiast and works for South Africa’s national radio broadcaster, SAfm. “For me as a radio producer, six weeks on the road with a professional studio – to be able to stop anywhere and record people’s thoughts and music – is a dream come true.”
And since their thoughts and views will be aired on community radio stations, the project will help the rest of the community – including community leaders and local politicians and officials – to understand what the key issues are and what the youth think should be done to address them.
After the six-week trip, Wired for Sound will also professionally produce a small body of recorded songs and these will be made available for download on iTunes and amazon.com, as well as featured on the music streaming service, Simfy Africa and the recently established music synch agency, Synchronicity, which places music with pictures (TV adverts, movies, soundtracks, documentaries, premium products, apps and electronic media).
All the profits will be funnelled back to the community stations in Mozambique to support their growth – and the development of local musical talent.
Given the scope of the project, Wired for Sound would never have been possible without the support of OSISA and a number of companies, which recognised the potential impact of the project and provided sponsorship – including Marshall Music (music equipment and gear), Rockit Distribution (recording equipment) and AKG (microphones and headphones).
“We have been working on Wired for Sound for over a year and are so excited that we are finally on the road,” said Simon as the team headed off for into Mozambique. “We can’t wait to hear what people have to say, to experience contemporary Mozambican culture. And we can’t wait to share what we learn and capture with local communities and the wider world.”
And confident that the pilot project in Mozambique will be a success, Simon and Kim are already planning a Wired for Sound II in 2014 – possibly in Malawi.ShareThis