• Lorraine Johnson

[35] Sitting Sideways

One night in 1966, while sleeping, Chingamuka had a dream. A dream about his grandfather—who used to play a traditional flute. He was urging him to learn to play. So when sun broke he went into his day to buy his flute.

Thirty years later on a reed mat lay traditional drums, an old rusted can, two cut off plastic jugs, an iron pot and four wooden sticks. Chingamuka sat with his traditional flute waiting for the rest of the group. And then he put it to his lips and played a short and lively tune, calling for the people to come with speed. He plays what he feels—he plays traditional jazz to the beat of the African drum—as he sits in the Macharote Settlement Center—an expanse of land in the district of Dondo set aside at that time for people displaced by war.


He had a small bottle of nipa and before he put it or his flute to his mouth he poured some into his musical pipe as an offering to his ancestors—to the spirit of his grandfather.


And then he said, 'Spirit, speak! Play!" And then he played his flute—sitting sideways in his mouth—and dreamed once more.

*Nipa is highly potent local brew made from cashew nuts, often referred to as "traditional gin" in parts of Mozambique.