Two Songs

Msimisi, a lanky, wide-eyed 12-year-old who lives with two brothers and his grandmother on a mud-baked compound, was assigned to help me document BarCamp Swaziland. Though he had managed to hook up a solar panel to the roof of his family’s hut in order to generate electricity to power their radio, he was mystified when I first handed him a Flip camera. It wasn’t quite the turning on part which was hard to figure out — after all, you just press a button on a Flip and the camera records. The harder part was the cultural expectation of what to do when the camera started running.

Luckily, I had kept a video on my Flip of my 6-year-old son, who himself is half-African, singing “Freres Jacques”. I pushed the button to show Msimisi and suddenly my son was singing to him, and then Msimisi’s face suddenly lit up in recognition.

And then he positioned himself neatly in front of the camera, motioning for me to record him, and he began to sing a song in siSwati, at first his voice tremulous, then strong.

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56 Responses to “Two Songs”



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