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The Missing Female Inmates In Zomba Prison Project, Malawi’s Grammy-Nominated Prison Band

“The women’s contribution” says producer Ian Brennan “has been overshadowed by coverage of the official men’s band at the prison.”

Image courtesy of Zomba Prison Project.


Much of what’s written about the Zomba Prison Project’s Grammy-nominated album I Have No Everything Here—a collection of songs written and recorded by inmates at a maximum security facility in Zomba, Malawi—has focused on the men.

“The women’s contribution,” say producer Ian Brennan and filmmaker Marilena Umuhoza Delli, “has been overshadowed by coverage of the official men’s band at the prison.”

This isn’t completely unwarranted, as the jail already had its 12-man band routinely practicing in a makeshift rehearsal space before recording even started back in 2013.

It’s the women inmates, however, that ended up writing the majority of the songs on the 20-track album.

“Ironically, the men’s band is not featured on the Zomba Prison Project album hardly at all, while the women— who, unlike the men, have no instruments other than two hand-drums and some homemade percussion— contributed over half of the songs to the Grammy-nominated World Music album,” explains Brennan, who previously produced Tinariwen’s Tassili.

The new music video for “House of Dance” celebrates those women, many of whom are in Zomba prison for life, with footage of their communal dancing and singing, something the outnumbered female inmates frequently did to lift their spirits.

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Bobi Wine's Release Detailed in Latest Episode of 'The Messenger'

Trauma is the topic on the podcast's latest episode: "The Ballot or The Bullet."

The latest episode of The Messenger is something to behold.

Created by Sudanese-American rapper Bas, The Messenger throws the spotlight on the thunderous circumstances many African countries face, with a close focus on Ugandan politician Bobi Wine.

In his most recent traumatic experience, Wine and his wife Barbara Itungo Kyagulanyi were released from a nearly two-week military house arrest following the ruling of a Ugandan court. Keeping up with current events and circumstances that Wine finds himself in, the latest episode of the podcast recounts the traumatic events that led to Wine's very public abuse and eventual house arrest.

Upon his release, Wine spoke with The Messenger and had this to say, "I want to remind the world that we went in this election knowing how corrupt the staff of the electoral commission is. We saw this through the campaign and the world saw how much was oppressed, how biased and one sided the electoral commission was, and how much it was in the full grip of General Museveni. And therefore we are going to test every legal test, we shall take every legal test. We shall take every legal step. And indeed we shall take every moral and morally proactive, nonviolent, but legal and peaceful step to see that we liberate ourselves. The struggle has not ended. It is just beginning."

Listen to Episode 7 of The Messenger here.

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