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  • Lorraine Johnson

[91] Begin Well

Chomba Chakala Chakulumamwanyoka was born of the Makonde in Miula in the year when they built the shops in Namawa village. An elder—Ndona Kwamba—an old man who one day fled to Tanzania during the Mozambican liberation struggle and long passed away—taught Chomba. He taught Chomba how to play music from a one-string traditional instrument—the kanyembe.

In the historic barrio of Maimyo in Mueda, Chomba rested his kanyembe on his chin. He played it with his bow, creating a beautiful sharp, high-pitched, sound that both whispered and cried. And he spoke with his kanyembe—revealing the roots that sometimes sting, as he laughed continuously, carefree and full of joy.

There are many problems in this world, he declared. And most are created needlessly by people. And apparently there are no solutions—he started to sing—as they are always occurring over and over again. Most problems are solved on the surface not in the depths where the roots are buried, so soon they circle back once more—and once more.

And then he said gently, "I was given a Makonde name with meaning—Chomba for the "hole" (of a bee hive), chakala "old thing" (the hole), mwanyoka "type of snake." The bee is like a snake because when you try to enter its house [over and over again] to get honey, it can [will eventually] sting you."

Chomba sang on and his words stung as they travelled with the wind. Take time to sit together—under the roots—was the message. And I heard through the wind so very clear—the harmony built by the sun, the moon and the ocean down below sometimes creates a dense fog which eventually clears. The "end" felt and seen is—in fact—yet another beginning—from one moment to another, from one generation to the next, through cultures and people seemingly far. Listen deep and see below. There's always a new beginning. Begin well—begin well.


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