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Mazula Make Music History with African Elephants

Updated: May 20, 2023

Through this experience and story, we have decided that we will always gift our live desk music recordings to free downloads and streaming sites, our original studio recorded music will only be for sale and will always be linked to good causes. Our first single release is Shoulders of Giants, the video will soon follow. You can purchase this song now through our website and R10.oo every sale goes directly to Elecrew for the good work they do and because this song was the elephant's favourite. ENJOY and BIG UP the Ellies!

Monday the 6th March was by far and away the best Monday I have ever experienced. We were in our usual music tour spot of Victoria Falls, celebrating our 19th Wedding anniversary watching Flying Bantu at The River Brewery (fantastic band, awesome venue) when we met Franziska, a German PHD student studding African elephants. We got to chatting and when she found out we were musicians, she asked if we would be interested in playing our music to African Elephants for science to record the effects it has and if they have an interest in music. It has been recorded before with an Asian elephant and a piano but never before with a guitar, voice or to African elephants. Yes, Yes, Yes! Could not come out of our mouths fast enough. We have always loved elephants and our family totem in Zimbabwe is Ndlovu which is the elephant and any opportunity to be around them in their natural environment is a must in my world.

So, on Monday the 6th March we were collected from Shoestring backpackers, our home from home and taken to the Elecrew site just outside the main town. We met Jake, Gerald and a small group of very passionate elephant handlers that track and monitor 9 orphaned elephants through various circumstances. They make sure they are looked after medically and from other wild elephants. The 9 elephants have formed a surrogate heard and matriarch system due to them not being a family herd. Through positive praise and healthy treats, they have built an amazing relationship based on trust and mutual respect with the rangers that is out of this world to experience. They can ask them to lift their feet, open their mouths and do various tasks that help the Elecrew team keep an eye on their health and nutritional needs. The elephants live in an area with no fences, they are free to roam but choose to stay in this new way of life, knowing they will not fully cope in the wild. They all have their own personalities and issues and the trust between the crew and the elephants is magical, such trust seeing as they are such powerful beasts.

We were taken to a lookout platform near a watering hole and the cameras were still not set up yet but as soon as Vusa brought out the guitar and started to tune it, the elephant’s reaction was instant, phones were pulled out quickly to record and capture whatever we could and away we went on their timing. They all stood and raised their trunks to the sky as the guitar sounded instantly and in unison, feeling for the sound waves and checking out this new sound to their ears. Elephants are extremely sensitivity to vibration. It was like a salute and made me very emotional from the start, it was hard to sing. Vusa started to play some chords and they all started to come over. We were told after that they very rarely come close to the platform when people are there and rather hang by the water or on the edge of the forest but never up close with full eye contact.

We played a mixture of songs, upbeat, slow, loud, soft, African & English languages. The thing that gave us the biggest compliment, is they came closest on our original songs, especially Shoulders of Giants and Fly, Fly. I found it hard to sing for emotion and only because they are such magnificent beings, how anyone could harm or destroy them is beyond me. The elephants stayed round us for the whole time we played, the music had a calming and intriguing effect on them apart from the pocket trumpet noise which seemed to cause some dislike, so we stopped after a really fantastic reaction in our Fly, Fly song by Hwange a female elephant.

Hwange was the obvious thespian in the group and our biggest fan. It is very unlike her normal behaviour to come close; she is usually one of the elephants that keeps her distance but she was front row for our music, at one point she was feeling the metal banister for the vibration and looking to where she could climb up the steps to get closer to the sound. There was a lot of raising trunks, Hwange gave the best show of appreciation, she has stayed in my heart ever since.

What an amazing experience! A HUGE THANK YOU to Franziska, Jake, Gerald and the Elecrew team in Victoria Falls, it will be an experience we will never forget. Watch this space for the full footage and the release of the two singles: Shoulders of Giants and Fly, Fly.

Check out the reaction to the pocket trumpet sound from Hwange....

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