Whilst music can be viewed as a sound language through which people translate culture, it can also serve as a manufactured product meant merely for amusement. Jacques Attali has highlighted the link between representation and repetition, arguing that as a primary form of representation for the individual, music performance shifted its power when recording devices took mass ownership, with the precedence of recording becoming repetition not representation. We see this objectification bearing commodification of music as a daily mode of reference. However, when there is need for deep spiritual commitment and morale elevation, people tend to converge in song and invest wakefullness overnights. This phenomenon is an isolated convergence of people involving music that can potentially escape repetition and in turn elude the ruins of economics. A gathering of this form was known as Pungwe (shona word for vigil), during Zimbabwe’s armed struggle of colonial resistance. It was mediated through mbira music rituals.
We draw the ideological framework of an event we call Pungwe Nights from this narrative. The project PUNGWE is an inter-disciplinary project circling African music with related contemporary arts discourses and spaces. This collaborative practice takes the shape of PUNGWE NIGHTS a participatory public platform hosting alternative music and sound performances.
Pungwe Nights can be streamed as a commune of people that are “woke”, referring to wakefulness as an act of mourning, morning used adjectivally, anticipating sunrise as an emancipatory symbol.