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Blog / Music

This Started Out As A VERY Different Blog About Evoking Humanity

As those of you who follow us (and thanks for doing so) know, we recently announced our collaboration with Dominic Mancuso Group (and others), beginning a new movement - Evoking Humanity.

Evoking Humanity is an effort undertaken to increase global harmony by sharing (and listening to) each others stories - our "truths". It is an open invitation to engage in celebrating each other's cultures and experiences.

And then the overwhelming events of the past few days happened. We were stunned, dismayed, horrified and, yes, we admit, we began to question ourselves. That this could happen in Canada was unthinkable.

How, we thought, is it possible to help each other through communication, sharing, understanding, listening - in a world where this can happen?

A world where some individuals are so convinced that their truth is the only truth - who believe that people should be forced to believe as they do - and who are prepared to condemn those who are not the same as they are and to act with violence. And then we remembered something that Doctor Martin Luther King said . . .

"Only in the darkness can you see the stars."

We realized it is even more important to continue our movement! While some may see it as remarkably naive, "tilting at windmills", an impossible task - we remind any naysayers that all big ideas, especially those that have wrought positive change for humankind, were aspirations. Navigators, scientists, inventors, those who wrought social change - did so because they had big dreams - big wishes.

Think about it - Gandhi, Einstein, John Lennon, Galileo, Socrates, Bill Gates, Isaac Newton, Steve Jobs, Nelson Mandela - we could go on and on and on! If those people hadn`t had big aspirational thoughts they were willing to invest in, where would the world be today?

Furthermore, if we close ourselves off from each other, refusing to share each other's music, art, food, stories and experience - how can we grow? Communication breeds understanding - and (we hope) respect. So, please join us in our journey to Evoke Humanity.

It will be a terrific ride - we promise. Our plan is to engage like-minded musicians, artists, entrepreneurs, students, etc., from all walks of life to tell their stories. The more we communicate with each other - the more stories we share - the more understanding will be fostered.

Please take a moment - now - to remember those who perished. Two brave, contributing men - our Canadian Soldiers - Warrant Officer, Patrice Vincent and Corporal Nathan Cirillo. We thank you for your service to Canada and to our people. We are proud of you.

Our launch evening on October 31st - sharing music and art with Dominic Mancuso Group at Galerie Avenue Art in Montreal - is our first step toward Evoking Humanity.

If you'd like to join us, please drop us a note at mustafa@zawadee.com to register. Attendance is free! We'll be pleased to see you receive an invitation. October 31st - Doors open at 8:30p.m. and show begins at 9:30pm.

We will have a wonderful evening - listening to Dominic Mancuso Group, Lorraine Klaasen (both Juno Award Winning artists) and Mario Monaco, an inspiring world percussionist. All in the wonderful setting of the Galerie Avenue Art in Old Montreal.

In late November, we will be holding another evening of art and music in Toronto. Stay tuned - More details coming soon!

At Zawadee - Bring Africa Home, we believe in helping others through empowerment, rather than through charity. To that end, we support the effort of charity; water, in their aspiration to provide clean drinking water to everyone in the world! To that end, we also micro fund deserving artists, entrepreneurs, and students in Africa - helping them to achieve a successful life.

Please join us in our aspiration to "Evoke Humanity". In the words of The Beatles - "we can work it out" because, if we do - "then the world can live as one". Hakuna Matata, people!

Mustafa Salemwalla and Our Zawadee Team

P.S. If you have a story you'd like to share, please let us know. Because we believe, The more we share, the more we care!

P.P.S. Please help us get the word out by sharing this blog.



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The Zulu Kingdom: Click Speaking, Miriam Makeba and More!

The Zulu (pronounced ZOO-loo) people are one of the most well-known groups in Africa, most notably for their unique style of speaking. Descendants of the Nguni-speaking people, they are known for their "click" speaking and singing.

Today, close to 10 million Zulu-speaking people live in South Africa, primarily in the KwaZulu-Natal Province. Some also reside in other areas, including Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Swaziland. However, the Zulu tribe’s people are concentrated in rural and urban communities in the southern part of the continent. To learn more about the culture and history of the fascinating Zulu people, we highly recommend viewing this video - Kingdoms of Africa: The Zulu Kingdom (Episode 6 of 8 about the Kingdoms of Africa).

"Shaka kaSenzangakhona, also known as Shaka Zulu was the most influential leader of the Zulu Kingdom. He is widely credited with uniting many of the Northern Nguni people, specifically the Mtetwa Paramountcy and the Ndwandwe into the Zulu Kingdom, the beginnings of a nation that held sway over the portion of southern Africa between the Phongolo and Mzimkhulu Rivers, and his statesmanship and vigour marked him as one of the greatest Zulu kings. He has been called a military genius for his reforms and innovations, and condemned for the brutality of his reign." Source: Kingdoms of Africa.

Here is a map showing the approximate geographical area of South Africa where isiZulu is spoken (indicated in green)

isiZulu Language

To the surprise of many, click speaking, which is formally known as the isiZulu language, is one of the most dominant languages in South Africa. In fact, the language is so popular that it became one of South Africa’s official languages in 1994. To date, there are 11 official languages.

Zulu is the most widely spoken language in the home, and it is understood by well over 50% of the population in the region. “Zulu is idiomatic and proverbial and is characterized by many clicks. The Zulu language is characterized by hlonipha (respect) terms. Addressing those who are older than oneself, especially elderly and senior people, by their first names is viewed as lack of respect. Therefore, terms like baba (father) and mama (mother) are used not only to address one's parents but also other senior males and females of the community.” Since the Zulu tribe has religious roots in Christian and traditional beliefs, it makes sense that Christian missionaries were the first to create a way to write Zulu. The first Zulu Christian booklet was written by Newton Adams, George Newton and Aldin Grout between 1837 and 1838. It was titled Incwadi Yokuqala Yabafundayo, and it explained the spelling of Zulu words as well as the history of the Old Testament. One our favourite examples of the "click" songs of the Zulu people is the venerable Miriam Makeba - Mama Afrika. Enjoy her famous performance of Quongqothwane, also known as the click song during the festival "Zaire 74".

Zulu Musical Style

As with many Africa cultures, music is a group activity for the Zulu people. Often, all village members will join in producing the music that accompanies ritualistic dance. Members of the group will gather around the main performers of the dance, singing in unison while other members play instruments.

Zulu Instruments

The Zulu use many musical instruments that are common to African music. They employ several types of drums, including the djembe drum and the ngoma drum, into their performances, as well as ankle rattles, shakers, rain sticks and bells. The Zulu also use their bodies as instruments by clapping and slapping parts of their bodies rhythmically.

Perhaps, the most fascinating features of the Zulu language is the use of click consonants. These consonants are unique and unlike anything we use in the English language to form words and phrases. Even though the click sound feature is shared with a number of languages in southern Africa, it is primarily used in the KwaZulu-Natal region.


As outlined on Wikipedia, there are three articulations of clicks in the Zulu language:

  • c: dental (comparable to a sucking of teeth, as the sound one makes for 'tsk tsk')
  • q: alveolar (comparable to a bottle top 'pop')
  • x: lateral (comparable to a click one may do for a walking horse)

Each articulation covers five click consonants, with differences such as being voiced, aspirated, or nasalised, for a total of 15 different click sounds.

The Zulu Alphabet

Here is a chart outlining the Zulu pronunciation and click consonants that make up the language: 


Learn the Zulu Click Sounds

Talking about the Zulu language is one thing, but actually hearing the sounds and learning how to make the click sounds will provide you with proper context. Here are a number of instructional videos that will teach you about the basics of the click speaking of the Zulu Tribe:

Q, Qh & Gq Click Sounds

X, Xh, Gx Click Sounds


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