In response to the lack of study and practice of African music given our musical legacy and the role it plays in the everyday lives of Africans, People’s Education is engaged in a music education project centering the contemporary African context.
The project seeks to bring on board musicians, artists, writers, academics, community workers, students and audience members in an exploration of African music.
It poses a number of questions and statements for discussion, reflection and action. It talks much about popular music but this is only as a point of departure.
Some overarching questions
What is African music? Can we talk of it as an exceptional music, its own musical form? This question speaks, amongst other things, to issues of modernity and hybridisation. What are the implications of Westernization and other processes of cultural change for the ways in which music is produced and consumed in Africa and by Africans?
Moments from “Workshop 2: Music as the weapon of the future” – Cafe Ganesh, April 2016
We would like to reflect on the role of music in our everyday, spiritual lives. Music has the capacity to unlock the imagination and unleash its power, heal trauma and resolve issues of the self. We embody and inhabit our ancestral forms through music.
We are aware there are numerous existing pan-African popular music genres. These have their own genealogy, their own history of interaction, influences and cross-pollination. How do we start to dig deeper into this conversation, delve into their message and popularize African music in its richness?
How is music educational/a tool for positive change? We would note that, while a number of musicians have brought forward a very clear political message, there are subtler ways in which music might constitute a transformational thing. Kwaito is illustrative: The attitude of “pantsulaness” is transmitted to youth, not only through the semiotic message of a song, but also by way of the feeling and the beat.
Listening session held in response to issues discussed in Workshop 1: What is African music? – Tagore’s, April 2016
Along these lines, we are interested in the question of sound as a language of its own, as a form of knowledge and knowledge-making. How can we harness these paradigms in the struggle for the liberation of our people?
Is it possible to bring African music practice into the formal classroom? How? Would it remain African? If we cannot formally pedagogise and institutionalize African music, how can we strive towards a decolonised music learning/teaching space?
Exploring these and numerous of other questions, the project takes the form of participatory workshops, screenings, listening sessions, performances and more.