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Saturday, October 3, 2015


(Dr Patricia Opondo, Chair of the Local Arrangements & Programme Committees, UKZN)

The Music Discipline at the University of KwaZulu-Natal is currently hosting an international African music symposium that brings together academics, artists and documentary film makers with an interest on Africa and the Diaspora.

Taking place from September 29 to October 4 at the university’s Howard College campus, the International Council for Traditional Music (ICTM) African Musics Symposium will see delegates dialogue, exchange research and creative outputs about African music and dance. The symposium will also see discussions on academic papers, concerts and workshops where delegates can interact and share knowledge over four days.

The keynote speaker is distinguished emeritus Professor J H Kwabena Nketia, a Ghanaian ethnomusicologist and composer who is considered Africa’s premier musicologist. He has lived an impessing legacy spanning decades and is easily the most published and best-known authority in African music and aesthetics in the world.

Chair of the Local Arrangements Committee and Programme Committee, UKZN academic Dr Patricia Opondo, said she was very proud to be able to bring to Durban this prestigious international symposium which has three themes: African Bows, Harps, Fiddles, Guitars; Packaging Heritage; and Transnational Diasporic Cultures.

“To have esteemed emeritus Professor Kwabena Nketia presenting the Keynote Address, is indeed the cherry on top,” says Opondo. “These four days and the preceding weeks provide life-changing experiences for our Music students, particularly those majoring in African Music and Dance, as we will bring the best in the field to them. They will not only listen to groundbreaking research, but be able to participate in amazing workshops, and best of all perform to an illustrious international community.”

Among the 100 guests expected to attend is Professor Dave Dargie, who has a prolific publication record spanning over 40 years on Southern African bows, particularly those found in the Eastern Cape. Papers presented include: Southern Africa’s Remarkable Heritage of Musical Bows: Does It Have a Future?" by Prof. Dave Dargie (Germany/South Africa); Re-packaging Heritage, Reinventing Africa: Rethinking Musical Education, Culture and Insight into Diasporic Cultures by Ayorinde Oladele (Nigeria/South Africa); and Ethnomusicological Perspectives on the Nile Project: Musical Collaboration as Transnational Cooperation by Damascus Kafumbe (Uganda/USA).

‘We will also be bestowing a Lifetime Achievement Award to the UKZN Umakhweyana Bow teacher, Br Clement Sithole in recognition of his contributions in preserving this Zulu indigenous instrument that he learnt at the feet of the late Princess Constance Magogo, the mother of Honorable Mangosuthu Buthelezi,” adds Opondo. “‘We have also invited the South African musical bow icon and legend, Madosini from the Eastern Cape, who is one of South Africa’s musical treasures who will perform on uhadi and Umrube.’

Delegates from Music Departments of all the major South Africa universities – University of Cape Town, University of Witwatersrand, University of Pretoria, Northwest University who teach and research African Music and Ethnomusicology will also be in attendance.

Delegates can also expect to participate in exciting workshops of music and dance from a number of different ethnic groups from various African countries and learn from research findings of ethnomusicologists and African researchers on a broad variety of subjects.

The symposium dovetails with the 10th Anniversary Celebrations of the African Cultural Calabash, hosted by the African Music Project at UKZN on October 2. The African Cultural Calabash is an annual folklife event curated and produced by the Applied Ethnomusicology section in the School of Arts – African Music and Dance division.  

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