Documentary film 'Mutanuka and Syasiya' finished!

A film by Michael Baird and Engel Mulder. About the phenomenon of disappearing music - music as an endangered species. In this 57 minute long documentary, silimba xylophone player Crispin Mutanuka and kanimba lamellophone player Edwin Syasiya of the Leya people of Zambia are the last to play their respective instruments - when they die, their music will die with them. In the shadow of the international tourist business next to the famous Victoria Falls, with its microlight flights, helicopters, bungee-jumping off the bridge, game safaris, and luxury accommodation, just 5 kilometers away a small cultural tragedy is taking place - as the young people are not interested in continuing the tradition. Watch the trailer here.

At the time of shooting, in November 2018, Crispin was 87 years old and Edwin 79 years old. So much ancient knowledge in their music, developed over centuries. Mutanuka was the xylophonist in the National Cultural Ensemble from its creation in 1964 up to its dissolvement in 1992 - he was the national silimba player. After that he had to busk at the curio market next to the falls for small change from tourists. Sadly he died in June 2019 - RIP. Syasiya is in all probability the last player of the Leya lamellophone, the kanimba. The tradition of historical songs, passed on to him by his grandfather and father, stops with him - unless some young person quickly decides to learn.

All over the world, in urbanising countries, cultural traditions are being lost due to globalisation. The film portrays these two old master musicians - they are but two examples of loss of musical culture. Humankind is heading towards a mono-culture, and that is a sad place to be: we need cultural diversity on this planet! 

The film 'Mutanuka and Syasiya' has been submitted to a selection of international film festivals, the earliest of which takes place at the beginning of February 2021. Watch this space!