Rock around Mozambique

An interview of Roland Pickl by Pierre Dufloo on the phone…


Hello Positivos, where are you?
Hello Positivo! Helio and I are staying at Guija, on the Limpopo river in Chokwe’s neighbourhood. Hippos, crocodiles and snakes around. There is no drinking water, dinner is over and we are having a beer.

What did you do today?
We had a long journey coming from Manjacaze. We moved five cars full of equipment and set up the new camp in Guija.


We organised a big square around the fire. We are having a show tomorrow and will stay here for 3 days.

Who is ‘we’?
CinemArena is composed of 19 people including drivers, technicians, 1 cook, 3 nurses, 2 theater actors, 2 Positivos and Fabrizio. Equipment includes the testing centre, 10 tents, 1 kitchen tent, camping and cooking gear, tables and chairs, 1 cinema screen, loud speakers, mixers, amplifiers, lights, cameras, tripods, music instruments, etc.

What is the show alike?
The show mixtures music, theater and movies. At 3 pm, we set up the stage and do the sound-check. Before the end of the afternoon, local people arrive and Positivo starts some animation, along with the actors. At night, short videos are presented on the screen, followed by classical western movies spoken in Machangana. The funniest one is Charlie Chaplin at the end.

Tell us more about your show…
Ok, first… We need a good preparation. We look for local groups to sing or dance or play with us. In Maputo province, we had xigugu groups – dum dudum dudum dudum… We usually start the show with the opening of the testing centre and the hit song ‘Agora sou Positivo’. Then come new Positivo tunes or music composed with local groups. 2 theater actors help us, they are good and we might collaborate with them in the future. The result – with various dancers, singers and musicians – is very unique and colorful.

 What is the reaction of the public?
My first try on xigugu dancing ended on the floor and caused a big laugh. Some people are very excited and get massively tested during the show – up to 200. Others remain afraid of HIV-AIDS and keep quiet. Strong differences exist between a place and another, depending on their history. The public also varies in number, from 500 up to 3000 people.

 The music?
Intercultural exchange is amazing. The way they dance, sing or drum… I heard some rythms for the first time and found them hard to understand. We met a lot of good musicians, who might be future Positivos. We played the songs from the workshops and tried various combinations. We wrote new songs about the test, life being HIV-positive or solidarity between black and white people against HIV-AIDS.

 What was your highlight?
We met Malacatán, a great Mozambican artist who travelled around the world and now runs a cultural centre in Maputo province. We jammed together for hours and he declared himself interested in participating in Positivo. This was a wonderful experience, yet the tour is not over…
 Which were the greatest places to visit?
All places are great to visit. We toured the whole province of Maputo and are now touring Gaza. Bilene has a breathtaking view on blue lagoons. Manjacaze was special because of Samira’s birthday. All places are beautiful because of their people, especially when our music reaches their hearts. We are finding out that Positivo can go anywhere in Mozambique.

 How is the collaboration with CinemArena?
Very good. They even named the Tour from the Positivo song recorded in Mangunde: ‘Eu não tenho medo de fazer o teste’ ! CinemArena has been touring for 3 years now, we are learning a lot from their experience. We are also free to investigate and learn from our own mistakes. However, this is their first collaboration with Positivo and they want more! 

 What is coming next?
In the near future… Giving shows, investigating places, meeting local groups, increasing intercultural exchange, writing new songs and having more people tested. Helio and I also want to improve the quality of our advise on HIV. In such a big organisation like CinemArena, it is impossible to spend 30 minutes with each person. This problem should be solved by Positivo. In December, we will come back to Inhambane to prepare our own tour. This is already exciting. I will also be glad to come back home and spend some time again with my fellow Positivos.