Harare Exchange: Undersonics – Topographies of Music and Motion

‘What moves as a body, returns as the movement of thought. […] A process set up anywhere reverberates everywhere.’

– Author unknown

Harare Exchange was hosted by Zimbabwean artist Dana Whabira and South African artist Nolan Oswald Dennis. Their collaboration explored sound and music as vectors for spatial consciousness. It was based on concepts of the sonic vector – sound as a way of thinking about how territories are linked – and telaesthesia – the ability to perceive distant occurrences or objects without the use of the five senses. The workshop examined practices for reconstituting continental landscapes from aural (and oral) histories and their potential for new developments in African music. Dennis suggested that sonic experience could be a micro-structure in which politics is played out, and a way of studying representations of space beyond the visual.

The workshop included a public exchange between Nolan Oswald Dennis and Manori Neelika Jayawardane, associate professor of English at the State University of New York at Oswego, and an honorary research associate at the Centre for Indian Studies in Africa (CISA), University of the Witwatersrand (Johannesburg, South Africa). Jayawardane juxtaposed ‘Afropolitanism’ with the liminal experiences of inhabiting borderlands, and argued that more careful attention should be paid to the geopolitics and micropolitics that lead to liminality. This public dialogue was part of the official programme of the International Conference on African Cultures: Mapping the Future, hosted by the National Gallery of Zimbabwe, 11–13 September 2017.

The artists’ discussion was followed by Revolutions Per Minute RPM, which brought together the writer Percy Zvomuya, the artist Tinofireyi Zhou Aero5ol, and the musicians MOTOMZHINJI (The Monkey Nuts) and Chapampa spinning selections from their vintage vinyl record collections at Njelele Art Station, as part of the urban laboratory’s two-day programme from 11–12 September 2017.


Dana Whabira (artist)

Nolan Oswald Dennis (artist)

Tinofireyi Dennis Zhou (a.k.a. Aero5ol) (artist)

Percy Zvomuya (writer)

The Monkey Nuts (musicians)

Joyce Jenje Makwenda (archivist and musical historian)

Manori Neelika Jayawardane