Mozambique is a country of great cultural diversity that brings together peoples of different ethnicities
linked to each other by the Bantu cultural matrix in its territory. Each of these groups has its own forms of
social organization, in which they occupy and use their territories and natural resources as a condition for their cultural, social, religious, ancestral and economic reproduction, using knowledge, innovations and practices generated and transmitted from generation to generation by oral tradition. As for the Chopi ethnic group, the southern part of Inhambane province is the cultural heart of this people and their musical tradition of playing the timbila (plural for mbila), a xylophone made of wooden slats from the splashing tree, called mwenje in Chopi, and dried masala fruit peels or gourds as resonators.
This musical tradition, said to be over 500 years old, goes far beyond playing an instrument, It implies a harmonious relationship with nature that permeates the cultural fabric of Chopi society. Similar to some West African dynasties, the ability to play the timbila is passed on to families from one generation to the next.
The focus of this ethnographic research is to understand how the Chopi peoples have established historical and cultural connections with nature through their ancestral beliefs, habits and knowledge, responding in unique and creative ways to issues such as climate change and the global ecological collapse we are currently experiencing, as these are problems that directly affect the lives of this population, whose main source of subsistence is agriculture. The involvement and preservation of the the environment as part of the preservation of their ancestral history and culture is intrinsic to the cosmology of these peoples, and it is extremely important to record this knowledge for later use. The objective in question is to carry out fieldwork in the locality of Canda, rural area of Inhambane province, to interact with the local population and better understand the sounds of the ecosystem that surround them and that go unnoticed, the content of their musical lyrics, the shape in the manufacture of traditional instruments, finally, through the participative observation of their daily and life habits, documenting, via audiovisual and in writing, the strategies for confronting and mitigating contemporary socio-environmental changes and how this is reflected in the musicality and orality of the Chopi culture and in the transmission of their knowledge and cultural reproduction.
We believe that the involvement of the environmental issue in the cultural and academic sector is fundamental for a broader perspective on the perpetuation and recording of Mozambique’s traditional practices and customs. The multidisciplinary team composed by Master Timbila Matchume Zango, Ethnomusicologist Eduardo Lichuge, artist and cultural manager Chimène Costa and the Filmaker Ercilio Twin allow the audiovisual capture of Chopi cultural practices and interviews that will allow the realization of an ethnographic research on the mitigation of impacts caused by climate change in the Chopi territory. It is critical to devise scientific and artistic touring strategies to explore the power we have to inspire future generations to cultivate harmonious connections with nature. In order to avoid that this research becomes another mechanism of cultural neo-extractivism towards the communities, we intend to share the material studied through the exhibition of video concerts in Canda, in the city of Inhambane, in Maputo and in the corridors that link these regions of Mozambique.
Canda, Nzanguine district on the coast of Inhambane province, Mozambique. The Chopi people are one of the smallest ethnic groups in Mozambique. They populate the lands bathed to the south and east by the Indian Ocean, whose western limit is located at a longitude of 34o, a location relative to both the peoples who are in their vicinity and those who are nearby southern Mozambican. Although the proportion of land they occupy is relatively small, the Chopes have one of the highest population densities in the entire country