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Friday, February 5, 2016


(Khokhiwe Mphila)

The Music cluster within the University of KwaZulu-Natal’s School of Arts is hosting the 1st International Bow Music Conference from February 24 to 27.

Convened by a team led by Dr Sazi Dlamini, UKZN lecturer and well-known township jazz exponent, the event has garnered a wave of passionate interest from local and international bow music practitioners, as well ethnomusicological research academics from as far afield as the US, Brazil, Europe, and neighbouring SADC countries of Lesotho, Zimbabwe and Mozambique.

While it is an academic gathering, The Bow Music Conference will be opening its doors to public attendance at paper presentations, workshops and discussions which will focus on diverse topics on global bow musical practices. The conference acknowledges the widespread indigenous occurrence of musical bows both in Africa and in far-flung areas of the globe, as well as the growing research and public interest on bow music.

The keynote address at the conference will be given by the eminent bow music professor David Dargie, a retired monk who brought to the world’s attention Xhosa women’s umrhubhe mouth-bow playing and the mesmerizing overtone singing techniques of Ngqoko village women of the Lady Frere area in the Eastern Cape.

The Bow Music Conference will include a progrmamme of musical performances that will showcase Southern African musical bows such as uhadi and ikatari (Xhosa); the Sotho lesiba, sekhankuri and lekope; the Venda thomo; chizambi and chipendani mouthbows found in Mozambique and eastern Zimbabwe; sitolotolo, makhoyana, umqangala and makhweyana (Zulu & Swati). During the conference some of these musical bows will be displayed in a curated exhibition of indigenous musical instruments at the KZNSA Gallery.

A significant presence in the conference is that of the Afro-Brazillian musical bow the berimbau, the calabash-resonated musical bow closely associated with capoeira, the worldwide popular physical game-dance-martial art that resulted from the presence of African slaves in Brazil. Several scholarly presentations will focus on the berimbau’s African origins as well as the instrument’s relationship to widespread Bantu bow cultures of Africa’s sub-Saharan region. The programme will include screenings of director Richard Pakleppa’s documentary film ‘Jogo de Corpo’ [Body Games] – which traces the roots of capoeira and of the berimbau to Angola.

Conference presentations will take place at UKZN’s Innovation Centre (Gate 9, Rick Turner Road) on February 24, 25 and 26. Entrance is free upon registration.

The film and concerts series take place at the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre at Howard College Campus UKZN from February 25 to 27. Tickets available through Computicket.

Daytime events at the KZNSA on February 27 include a workshop on musical bow-making, an indigenous musical instrument exhibition and a capoeira Angola roda conducted by Mestre Cobra Mansa from Salvador, Bahia-Brazil.

The 1st International Bow Music Conference is a Sources of Creativity Catalytic Project, funded through a research grant from The National Institute for the Humanities and Social Sciences.