The Tonga music festival is a two day event which was a brain child of Radio Chikuni in Monze. It has been running ever since the radio station was established in 2000.
From the first concert held in 2000, it has now grown over the years and attracts around 10,000 people and is one of the biggest traditional music festivals and the only of its kind in Southern Province.
In a bid to promote the Tonga culture, the festival has broadened to include all sorts of traditional Tonga music and poetry. The use of traditional instruments is also a form of educating the young ones who are used to western musical instruments.
The festival is held annually at Chikuni in Monze. It attracts thousands of people and over 100 musicians take part in the festival.
Participation is open to anyone with an original story or unpublished music. Because of the different varieties and styles of music, the festival is organized in categories like the Kuyabila, Kalindula, Kulumbu, and others.
Starting from the year 2008, the number of categories was increased to 12. Several new comers take part in the festival every year. But there are some who feature annually like the Katebe band, Buche Buche band, Tusole band, Mashombe blue Jeans band, the X band and the Liverpool Young Stars band.
The Tonga Music Festival has also a fashion category for girls. This is where traditional Tonga attire is displayed by girls from Mukanzubo cultural group under the auspices of the Mukanzubo cultural research institute, which spearheads research and restoration of Tonga heritage.
As an extra incentive, participation in the festival is free. Though participants win cash prizes at the end, the audience doesn’t pay to watch the festival.
Thus, the music festival has grown, attracting many traditional bands as well as corporate institutions and business houses who contribute to the successful hosting of this important event in the country.
These two attractions have seen the Music Festival grow from a very humble beginning of about 20 artistes to more than a 100, attracting more and more participants each year.
African traditional music is an important part of the African culture and it’s a means of storing and safe guarding it. The festival should be encouraged as it is the only one of its kind in Zambia where such an array of traditional music is at display at one arena.
The Tonga Music Festival is a means of passing on the Tonga heritage verbally and visually to thousands of people who attend the event annually.
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