Friday, April 21, 2017

The Dongas Tribe in the Summer of 1996

The Dongas Movie was shot at Brian's Field & Sherborne in Dorset. This video was created by a German Television production company and expresses a desire for a sustainable life on Planet Earth. The people who participated are Collin & Jo & Tansy, Liz & Soren, Brian, Tegwyn & Elkana, Sam(antha) & Joya & Tom, Sarah, Vicky, Laugh, Gipsey John and the people of Sherborne.

The Dongas Tribe was a collection of road protesters and travellers in England, noted for their occupation of Twyford Down outside Winchester, Hampshire. The name Dongas comes from the Matabele word for "gully", given by Winchester locals to the deep drovers' tracks on Twyford Down.

John Vidal, writing in The Guardian in 2012, said of The Dongas that "the 15-20 urban youths who camped out to try to defend Twyford Down in 1992 are recognised to have fired up British environmental protest and kickstarted a major shift in green attitudes in both government and the public."

The Twyford Down protest was a protest against the M3 motorway extension which destroyed some rich ecological sites, one of the very few habitats of the Chalkhill Blue butterfly and six species of rare orchid, and ancient monuments there (SSSI and Scheduled Ancient Monument).

Following "Yellow Wednesday", when hordes of police and security guards invaded the camp to bulldoze the area, the Dongas Tribe left Twyford Down for Bramdean Common. Earth First!, who had been heavily involved in the setting up and support of the camp and actions, continued the protests and restarted a camp in Plague Pits Valley.

They constituted about twenty people. Some of the tribe maintained involvement in various subsequent road protests (Solsbury Hill, North Wales, Newbury bypass), but gradually morphed into a semi-nomadic "tribe", traveling the South West of England on foot, squatting various hill-forts and putting on seasonal gatherings in an attempt to reawaken a sense of connectedness with the land. The last of the nomadic Dongas were travelling in Cornwall until the end of 1999, after which some moved to France to continue their nomadic lifestyle.

The cutting at Twyford Down, during construction of the M3 motorway in 1994. Some of the 'original Dongas' (as they became called) of the mid 1990s were musicians who made a living by busking, sometimes using traditional music from Brittany.

The first child born in the Dongas tribe, to Rosie Lambert, was named May Brigit "Donga" Lambert and was born on 1 May 1994, Beltane and May Day.

An archive of recordings from The Dongas Tribe can be heard and downloaded from here.

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