Nzango Artist Residency

Based in Mozambique 🇲🇿

Inhambane - Canda

Cattle Herders

Native Practices of Mozambique: Creativity, Spirituality and Culture to resist climate change” is a project that develops research and audiovisual documentation of current cultural practices of different ethnicities from the three regions of Mozambique (north, center and south), in traditional communities that They have a rich and vast amount of music, dances and rituals, mainly linked to their work and spiritual activities.

We want to understand, beyond strategies, how these climatic effects influence the times of rituals or even how these situations leave cultural and artistic marks in each territory. Bantu traditions are alive in contemporary Mozambique and have a lot to tell us about possible futures and how to get there.

What strategies do these people have to continue these practices? And what is the impact of climate change on their ways of life?
The Mozambican Native Practices Project: creativity, spirituality and culture to resist climate change” is funded by the Sound Connects Fund, an initiative of the Music in Africa Foundation (MIAF) and Goethe-Institut. The Sound Connects Fund is made possible with the financial contribution of the European Union and the support of the Organization of ACP States

Interview with Mixaqui Wazalatiei

I’m a cattle breeder, and I also go to the bullfights. I also work on other things around my house.
Who taught you how to graze cattle and these cattle shows that seals do on Sundays?
I started raising cattle in 1975. I’m still doing it today.
Do you like raising cattle?
Yes, I do, because I don’t do it without having little things in my life. Thanks to the fact that I raise cattle. I even look after my family because I’m a cattle breeder.
The cattle you raise, what do you do with them?
The cattle I raise, there are times of celebration. I kill them and eat them. At some point, when I see that I have a lot of oxen, I can sell some of them to have some money for my sustainability.
What role do you play as a shepherd or cattle breeder?
In my position, I’m in charge of the oxen’s entertainment. I’m the leader. When it comes to breeding and having lots of them, I’m not really in charge of them.
Do you sing songs when you’re raising the cattle or grazing them?
We used to, but not anymore.
Don’t you remember any songs?
I have one that I used to tell. The song said, “Take the oxen, kids, so we can have fun and show that our breeding is growing.”
These oxen you have, you sometimes use them in the fields too. How can you explain this process?
The oxen we have here in our forests are for personal use. Each person can use them for their activities to look after their poverty.
When there’s no water and it’s hot, what do you do?
I have to look for somewhere to water my oxen.
When there’s no water and no grass to feed the cattle, what do you do?
We stay in the woods, cut down trees, weed the fields… so that we can feed our oxen and so that they can grow up healthy.
How do you compare the new generation of ox farmers and the old generation?
What happens is that the new generation, you tell them to raise cattle, and they go off and do other things, so we no longer follow the practice we used to have of just looking after the oxen without doing much. So, we adults pull their ears to make sure they’re on the right track.
Do you sometimes have to hand over your oxen to your leaders without paying?
No, they have to pay, they can’t take our oxen without paying. When they need oxen, we sell them. And that way, we win out in solving our problems.
How many cattle farmers are there in the Canda area?
There are many of us, I can’t tell you the number. But there are a lot of us.
How many oxen do you personally have?
I have eight oxen.
Do you have a wife and children?
I have a wife, eight children, and 23 grandchildren. They all live with them. Sometimes, they go to work elsewhere and come home.
Would you like to live in Maputo?
No, I don’t want to live there, because here I’m already used to my routine as a cattle farmer. And I can’t leave this life.
Haven’t you ever thought about moving to Maputo?
That won’t cross my mind. Since I came back from South Africa, I’ve only stayed at home.
Would you like to give me a message? So that people know who you are.
Yes, I want to say I’m happy to see my oxen happy. I had an ox that had an eye problem. I liked to use him in those fights. But even though he has this eye problem, he gives me a lot of joy. I’ve never seen him beaten. So, I thank him that he gives me this joy.

Interview with Aulino Zango

How old are you?
I’m 45 years old.
How long have you been a cattle farmer?
Since 1995.
How many cattles do you have?
The ones that belong to me are 28. All the oxen are mine.
What do you do with the oxen?
We use them for farming, weeding, we sell them and also make mass with them.
Do these oxen also help you make a living?
Yes, of course. When I don’t have any money, I can sell an ox. That’s how I buy food to eat with my family or buy a van.
Is there anything else you can do with your oxen to help you in life?
Of course, they help me to collect water, in the fields to plant peanuts… that’s practically the oxen’s job, to cultivate and collect water.
This thing about waving the oxen to fight, who started this tradition?
I also came across it when it was already happening. And I also joined the group. I think I’m already great at it, to entertain the oxen.
How do you choose the oxen to fight?
They’re called “rowdy”, not Mecatis. We leave the Mecatis, we take the dowdies. I have four rowdies.
On combat days, how do you do it? Do you take them all?
No, I only take one.
Do you have one that you trust for the fights?
Yes, he’s always there. He goes to the fights every day.
I see that on the days you go to the fight, you don’t sleep, why?
Because at 4 a.m., I have to give him grass to eat. By 6, or 7 a.m., he’s already going to the fight and still has a lot of strength. That’s why I can’t sleep.
How many hours do you give him the grass?
For two hours I leave him to eat. When I go away, I leave him for three hours.
How many cattle farmers are there in the Canda area?
There are many of us, I can’t tell you the number. But there are a lot of us.
Isn’t it the case that when an ox is fighting another one, it could damage its eyesight and then you don’t get along with the ox’s owner?
No, because we agree and control the fight. When the ox is hurt, we do the dressing, so there’s no confusion.
But does sometimes the ox die in the fight?
Yes, it can be bitten in the neck and not be able to get out of the spike and die, but it doesn’t happen very often.
What happens when an ox dies?
We take the knife and eat it.

When the ox dies, does everyone take their ox and eat it with their family?

Yes, each person takes their ox and leaves.
So there are no differences?

No, we took it as an accident. It wasn’t on purpose.

What is the connection between the cattle farmers and the Ngalanga dancers?
The link is that the cattle breeders are the same people who dance Ngalanaga. We look after the oxen until 5 pm, and we go there for training from 6 or 7 pm. So, we move our oxen to eat in the afternoon, not at night. So, in the evening, we have time to go dancing.
What is your role as head of the Ngalnaga group?
I’m in charge of that group because I started playing Ngalanga a long time ago. Then I left for work, and that group disappeared. Then when I came back, I had to teach them all over, how to do the movements. So, the responsibility lies with me
How many dancers do you have?
Seven, Simao, Atelevina, Linda, Nalda, Edy, Cidio, Armandinho, Ignacio, Jose and me Aulino.
What is the meaning of Ngalanga?
It’s when there are parties, ceremonies, and weddings. We go there to play and have fun.
How did you find the Ngalanga group?
I saw that there had to be a cultural group here in the area. There are women here, there are men. So, you have to dance to Nagalanga. That’s why you have to dance Naglanaga, because we used to keep our old practices going.
Do you compose these songs?
Yes, I do, because most of the people in the group are children. So, I have to do the composition work, then teach them, and they sing.
Can you sing these songs a bit?
Our nickname is Mboncote and we go out in Nzanguine. So, our songs say “Mbocotini is going to be killed, we’re going to finish.” With these songs, we want to say that we don’t dance to trust anyone, we only dance to trust God. When we pray, we only pray to God. So that’s it.
When you go to the bullfights, do you bet with money?
No, we don’t bet on anything. We just play and have fun.
Don’t people want to bet with money?
Yes, people like it, but it’s not worth betting with money to avoid drugging the oxen. These songs also accompany the rhythm of the drums in happiness, where people feel good. You have to give the children morale to dance. That’s why we compose these songs. We say that we will die without getting sick because our way of dancing is so good that it can make people jealous. It has nothing to do with witches. For example, you can find another dance group that isn’t happy. Then we can win that group and sing that we can die without getting sick because we’re so good. Because we’d often meet other good groups and they had said that we had outdone ourselves. So that’s the meaning of the song.