nora chipaumire Nehanda
Nehanda is a performative project in the form of an opera which looks at the trial and death of a revolutionary leader of the Shona people at the time of British occupation. Texts, chants and different musical elements fuse together in a powerful work which investigates both the legends of Zimbabwe and its colonial past.
Nehanda, an opera lasting five hours and fifty minutes, only the final chapter of which, Manifesting Thinking, is presented, is underpinned by a frenzied life force. On the confines of art and activism, the artistic practice of nora chipaumire, the New York-based, Zimbabwean artist, is renowned for the questions it raises about the performative, black-skinned body. This time around, she uses an episode dating back to the conquest of her country, at the close of the XIXth century, by the British Empire in order to probe into the legend of Nehanda, a spirit much venerated by the Shona people and which only inhabits women. The opera’s libretto draws its inspiration from the all-too brief trial and execution, in 1898, of Nehanda’s medium, Charwe Nyakasikana, the female organiser of the first revolts against British rule. Accompanied by a sizeable, energy-filled troupe of dancers, singers, musicians and performers, nora chipaumire is the conductor for this piece of musical theatre in which the disorder which follows that of life itself is only apparent because of the rigor that is behind it, and which authorises it.