SUNDAY TIMES - If you see a cycling historian spinning records, pay attention, she's giving a lecture
Sunday Times Lifestyle By Valeria Geselev, 2017-02-14 14:22:06.0

If you see a cycling historian spinning records, pay attention, she's giving a lecture

Historian Memory Biwa, will stage a free public history class as she cycles through Cape Town.
Image: Halden Krog Halden Krog

More than 30 artists have promised to "disrupt spaces across Cape Town" as part of the current International Live Art Festival.

Among them is historian Memory Biwa, who will stage a free public history class.

The Namibian will be touring the city on a bicycle with bull horns and speakers, delivering lectures and spinning records.

Biwa teaches history at the University of Namibia.

She says: "Students don't like history because they think it's all about remembering dates and names.

"I want to imagine another kind of education, one that engages with art."

Her performance is called ''Listening to a Listening at Pungwe Nights".

It's a live mix of two sound archives - Mbira music from contemporary Zimbabwe and voice recordings from Namibia - creating a link between the histories of the two countries.

Pungwe Nights is the name of a series of musical events co-curated by Robert Machiri, who was inspired by spiritual gatherings during Zimbabwe's independence struggle.

When the two encountered each other again in Cape Town, they started brainstorming a project together, which eventually travelled to Ghana, Namibia and South Africa.

The performances take audiences on a sound journey orchestrated by Biwa - using a laptop - and Machiri spinning records.

"We explore the relationship between the sound of language and the language of sound using recordings from the Ernst and Ruth Dammann sound collection," says Biwa.

"Ernst Dammann travelled from Germany to Namibia with a reel-to-reel tape player in the 1950s recording choirs, folktales and biographies," she said.

"Our next performance is in a public space.

''It features a bakkie, a horse carriage, bicycle and bull horns."

• The Institute for Creative Arts international LIVE ART Festival is on until February 26 in Cape Town,

• This article was first published in The Times