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  • Writer's pictureSian Sullivan

A Bee Song by Banco de Gaia and Future Pasts

Updated: 6 days ago

We're happy to announce the release of a A Bee Song 🐝

This is a new single by recording artist Banco de Gaia and Future Pasts,

a research project focusing on cultural and conservation landscapes

in north-west Namibia.

This single began as an experimental commission initiated by myself (Sian Sullivan) the lead of the Future Pasts project. With my Namibian collaborator – Welhemina Suro Ganuses from Sesfontein in the Hoanib Valley of north-west Namibia – in 2017 we started researching a set of historical recordings in Khoekhoegowab, Suro's mother tongue. Recorded by German linguists in Namibia in 1953-54, these recordings are now archived at the Basler Afrika Bibliographien in Switzerland.

Amongst this set of recordings was a Damara/ǂNūkhoe praise-song or |gais praising the honey bee – Apis mellifera 🐝. The original song is sung by a Viktoria ǁHoeses and was recorded in Omaruru (also !Huidi-ǁgams) in 1954.

The song is named in the archive as 'Honey (bee song) / Danis (!habugu ams)'. When we first listened to the song it reminded us of being taken honey-harvesting by the late Nathan ǂÛina Taurob of Sesfontein. As he lit a fire to calm the bees, the bees began to hum loudly inside the mountain where his hive was located. An aim has been to try and recreate this sound of the mountain humming with bees in A Bee Song.

The late Nathan ǂÛina Taurob collects honey from a hive he had harvested from for around 20 years, north-west of Sesfontein, Namibia. Photos by Sian Sullivan, 1995.

Sadly, this sustainable and highly skilled honey harvesting practice has pretty much died out now. Where there were multiple hives tended by specialist honey harvesters, these have also disappeared.


Alongside this research, I was fortunate to meet at Glastonbury Festival Somerset-based musician, composer and recording artist Toby Marks, otherwise known as Banco de Gaia – whose music I've loved for years.

I'd been thinking about the possibility of creating sensitive but contemporary recompositions of archived music from areas of my research, or of music recordings I had made myself with Sesfontein's Hoanib Cultural Group. The intention was to pursue the possibility of generating a wider reach for these powerful praise songs. It was this initial meeting that eventually led to the making of A Bee Song – a recomposition of the original recording of Viktoria ǁHoeses, praising the honey bee.

A Bee Song began as a paid commission to Toby to explore possibilities of creating appropriate recompositions of audio recordings arising from mine and Suro's historical and ethnographic research. We are delighted that it has now been released as a single. A share of the proceeds will be going towards recognising and supporting Nami-Daman heritage practices, through the Future Pasts Trust – a legally recognised entity in Namibia. We also have a JustGiving page for this purpose.


A Bee Song also has a video! Made by video artist Patrick Dunn, the video incorporates footage filmed by Oliver Halsey as part of Future Pasts research in north-west Namibia. Please click on the image below to play the video.

The video for A Bee Song uses selected sequences of edited footage from two of our oral history research films:

Made in collaboration with several Namibian organisations – the Nami-Daman Traditional Authority, the Hoanib Cultural Group, Sesfontein Conservancy and Save the Rhino Trust – these films document peoples' past experiences of living in, and being displaced from, places important to them.

Research background

Our research on the Khoekhoegowab recordings in the Dammann archive at Basler Afrika Bibliographien has been published in the journal Oral History. This journal article includes a discussion of the song that became so powerfully recomposed by Banco de Gaia as A Bee Song 🐝

And here are the words sung by Viktoria ǁHoeses in 'Honey (bee song) / Danis (!habugu ams)' .

More info here ⬇️

You can find A Bee Song at ~

Other platforms

A Bee Song is taken from the forthcoming Banco de Gaia album Trauma, due for release on September 6 2024.

Release date: April 26 2024 on streaming platforms

Bandcamp date: May 3 2024, A Bee Song available for purchase, A Bee Song and My Little Country downloadable with pre-orders of Trauma

Label: Disco Gecko

Catalogue number: DSCGCKDIG115 • Barcode/ UPC: 5038719016758

A Bee Song 05:45  GBCSF2400019 • stream preview 2:30 • download 5:45 

A Bee Song (Radio Edit) 04:04 GBCSF2400027

For three decades Toby Marks, aka Banco de Gaia, has consistently redefined world electronica, leaving an indelible footprint on the global music scene, sparking many a club and festival dancefloor, and inspiring countless musicians to follow. Toby has been at the forefront of blending acoustic and electronic sounds, integrating themes and techniques from cultures and traditions the world over. Toby has worked with musicians and producers as ingenious and diverse as Pink Floyd’s Dick Parry, Natacha Atlas, Tim Wheater and Hawkwind – to name just a few.

Ranging from cinematic ambience to pounding dancefloor-fillers, his music defies genres and borrows from a wealth of musical sources and styles. Toby’s background in jazz and rock combine with his love of dance and world music to produce a glorious, uplifting and at times mesmerising sound. Trauma will be Banco de Gaia’s thirteenth studio album. Further information

Future Pasts began as a cross-disciplinary Arts and Humanities research project exploring understandings and practices of sustainability in west Namibia. Collaborative work with the Nami-Daman Traditional Authority and the Hoanib Cultural Group of north-west Namibia led to the founding of the Future Pasts Trust in Namibia for cultural heritage research and revitalisation.

The Future Pasts Trust can be supported and contacted at

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