Calls of the Hummingbird (ENG)

Ogutu Mũraya, Sitawa Namwalie, Wanjikũ Mwawuganga & Sarah Camille

Het Imaginaire Eiland
"Listen closely – can you hear the call of the ruby-throated hummingbird? Its energetic emerald green wings are beating, its iridescent throat flushes as the hummingbird speaks – are you listening?"

Dit is een Engelstalig audioverhaal.


Calls of the Hummingbird

The story of the hummingbird is timeless and authorless; it manifests itself in different places, in different moments in time, evoking a call to action. It’s a story that has inspired the work and legacy of renowned environmentalist Wangarĩ Muta Maathai, which has empowered many to protect and restore the environment. For Wangarĩ the hummingbird was a reminder that we should not become complacent.

Calls of the Hummingbird is an audio piece commissioned by Zürcher Theater Spektakel for a collective listening experience. In this work polyvocality is used as a strategy in the retelling of this living parable. The use of different voices, each holding a different perspective, encourages diverse readings of the hummingbird story. In this audio piece musical, poetic, literary and oral textures layer together to create a medley that investigates the difficulties of hearing and following the call to action.

Listen closely – can you hear the call of the ruby-throated hummingbird? It’s a ‘series of buzzes, then a clearer, more tuneful whistle, followed by more emphatic chip notes,’ says the ornithologist. Listen closely – can you hear it? It’s a call to take action – Wangarĩ says ‘We can’t wait for others to do it for us; we need to take action ourselves.’ Listen closely – can you hear the call of the ruby-throated hummingbird? Its energetic emerald green wings are beating, its iridescent throat flushes as the hummingbird speaks – are you listening?

Concept Ogutu Mũraya
Co-curated by
Ogutu Mũraya and Maria Rößler
Storytelling by
Sitawa Namwalie, Wanjikũ Mwawuganga, and Ogutu Mũraya, with archival audio of Wangarĩ Muta Maathai
Original music by Sarah Camille, accompanied by Sidiki Camara on N’goni & Percussion, and by Arnljot Nordvik on Guitar
Sound design by
Luigi MK
Commissioned by Zürcher Theater Spektakel
Made with kind support from
the Wangarĩ Maathai Foundation

    Share this page