[-Twa]: pound in a mortar

“Kamutwa musozya, nobasimbi, tubone naa mwa komena kale // Pound the samp girls, so we can see whether you have become women.”

Kutwa refers to the traditional process in which Tonga women would gather in groups in order to share not only in the labour of pounding their harvested crops, like maize, in mortars but further embody the process of sharing in not only the material but the immaterial which assume the form of dialogue, ritual, storytelling and song.

Twa as a collection of pieces mirrors the process of kutwa in its innate orientation to engage in the shared cultivation and harvest of seeds of information collected and dispersed within various digital fields, such as Whatsapp and Google Maps. This body of work looks to explore and showcase the continuity, disruption or transformation of traditional culinary experiences, memories and ritual which are being built and rebuilt in a present temporal space whilst drawing contrast and comparison to past temporal spaces.

                 Nobasimbi/Tobasimbi, Digital Collage, 2021, Banji Chona.

“Kamutwa musozya, nobasimbi, tubone naa mwa komena kale // Pound the samp girls, so we can see whether you have become women.” The journey of womanhood sprouts from the seed.

                  Substance/Sustenance, Digital Collage, 2021, Banji Chona.

Culinary convenience guides our patterns of consumption. Lack of access to the staple leads to a change in the staple. Our diets and recipes are shaped by our geographical positions. From Lusaka to Rome culinary components vary. Nshima becomes Pasta; food becomes a filling rather than a feeling.

                  Root/Rot, Digital Collage, 2021, Banji Chona.

The harvest of the seed and the decay of the harvester. Women are at the forefront of traditional processes of food production. The crux of their existence is that of the nurturer of both the fields and the family. The dynamism of their existence beyond that of the nurturer is abstracted by the centrality of their role as the motors of the mortar. 

                  Lifecircles/Cropcycles, Digital Collage, 2021, Banji Chona.

The view from above merging with the experience from eye level forms a cycle of dependence. Crop circles dispersed as far as seeds themselves house the life cycles of not only the seed and the plant but of the farmer that plants the seed.

Banji Chona is a Zambian artivist and artchivist whose work manifests across the artistic and cultural spectrum. Banji’s work channels the visceral need to bring to life accessible spaces dedicated to fostering nuanced artistic and cultural dialogue. Her mission is the deconstruction and reconstruction of orthodox archetypes and normative ideologies through the use of dynamic multidisciplinary art, which has great potential to shift paradigms and inspire children of the Zambezi to live and express their truths which exist at the intersection of historical and contemporary happenstance.

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