An Evening With Christian Nyampeta
A mixtape streaming temporarily on music platforms including iTunes, Spotify and Tidal, from 21 December 2020

3. Long Letters

In 2018 I co-organised a workweek in Huye, a rural but historic town in the south of Rwanda. Delegates from working groups based in 14 cities across the world attended to share their findings on a collaborative research piece around the histories of art education in their respective locales. As part of the programme, I had organised an “evening school” consisting of musical gatherings, performances and film screenings, which was by far the most transgressive component in that it brought together neighbours, authorities, children and more into one space where social differences were suspended.

The preparation for this moment and its ongoing afterglow compelled me to produce an EP, which I viewed as a kind of sonic catalogue of songs recorded before, during and in the aftermath of the major events that had marked the recent history. In a way, the forthcoming EP is a continuation of that “evening school” in Huye, and the initial idea for the album was to revisit the selected songs in collaboration with contemporary linguists and musicians, through translations, remixing and reprises. However, the ensuing lockdowns caused many cancellations and the album was ultimately developed in close collaboration with musician Julien Simbi mentioned earlier. What has remained is the method of featuring short interludes containing recitations of what I would describe as “long letters”: excerpts by poets and novelists including Kodwo Eshun, Bessie Head, B. Kojo Laing, Ali A. Mazrui, Scholastique Mukasonga, Nnedi Okorafor, Yambo Ouologuem, Ousmane Sembène and Namwali Serpell, in a reading that performs their writing as diagnosticians of their society.