The ARGE Austria Zimbabwe Friendship Association has been running for twenty years, a series of cultural, technical and artistic exchanges between Zimbabwe, Zambia and Austria. Hedi and Peter Kuthan have been organising, arranging, motivating, wrangling and wangling to make all sorts of project possible, from marching bands to photo workshops, border-crossing radio to internet access.
In 2014 we had the privilege and pleasure of spending three weeks with the most remarkable people of Zimbabwe, in the Tonga region, in Bulawayo and Harare. Interviews with a range of people, from self-defined “peasant farmers” to theatre directors, cultural activists and students, reflected upon their experiences of and desires for ongoing cultural resilience. These Tales of Resilience were embedded in an antique radio device and exhibited in several places including Harare, Viktring and Linz. Now the radio has appeared in Strobl as part of the 20 year celebrations of the ARGE Friendship.
The radio, bringing in the distant voices from Zimbabwe, crossing the distance, is set up in a comfortable room in the former Deutsch family villa in Strobl. On the wall we have four images from the Siachilaba Women’s Photo Group, a series of portraits and a photo of a selfie being made. It was these women who welcomed us into the Tonga region and helped us gain a better understanding of what was happening there. Hearing their voices, the music and the sounds from our time in the region, across the time and distance since we were there, was a reminder about the simplicity and seriousness of life just away from the Zambesi valley.