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Tsonga Women Dancing

Is Afrika beginning to realize her connectedness through art and music?
- 27 October 2016

In this age of information it is only ignorance that leaves one out in the cold. You choose not to know and to be left behind away from whatever else is happening. I have witnessed with huge interest a growing trend of Afrikan music appreciation amongst Afrikan musicians. The wave is taking off at a moderate but very good pace, thanks to the advent of music programs on TV that are laden with good and raw Afrikan content, that can be viewed by Afrikans all over the continent probably at once. This is very encouraging in an age where spaces can be occupied by time consuming nothingness. We indeed are in the information era.

What really propelled the writing of this article are the *Mamas, the MTV African Music Awards that were aired live on DSTV from the Coca Cola Dome this past Saturday in Johannesburg South Africa. Afrikan artists from most of the continent's countries participating hugely in an event that represents and that's also providing a platform for their diverse Afrikan musics. It was very encouraging to watch, even though I caught the tail-end of the event on TV.
The awards no doubt attracted vast throngs of youths who love music, it was amazing to see the South African youth singing to most of the songs that were being sung by their counterparts from around the continent. I am saying this for one specific reason and that being that South Africans discovered late the pace with which the continent was travelling.
We had to first deal with our political situation that had us grounded for many decades whilst our Afrikan counterparts were already quite a bit ahead of us in other matters.
Today we are seeing an Afrika that is embracing itself, loving itself and also appreciating that our love for culture can bandage our common colonial wounds as a continent. I believe strongly that the youth of any continent in this world can foster change that can be accepted by all and for the good and betterment of all.

Music in my view remains one of the very important common denominators that can fast track the process of unity in Afrika. I am seeing a few very good and encouraging examples in the music industry that bring with, the long awaited result.

A local group by the name of Mafikizolo wrote a hit that had a lot of Afrikan elements in it, mostly west Afrikan elements in it with an evident House Music beat that is constant throughout the song. It's a song with a Zulu word, 'Khona', loosely meaning 'here'. When the song descended on our airwaves here I was elated, myself, a jazz lover, could not stop being moved by the song. The song won awards here in South Africa and also got a lot of airplay across the continent and more especially in Nigeria and in some parts of East Afrika. It was also number one in certain radio airplays right here in Afrika. This is the point of departure we all need embrace. And that is the one of Afrika beginning to appreciate itself and building a future towards a sense of cultural awareness.

Another example is a song by a South African female musician who also happens to be a University of Cape Town graduate, Miss Judith Sephuma.
Judith did a very beautiful song called 'Mbote'. Mbote is a greeting in 'Lingala', a Congolese dialect. It's a song about unity. "It's also a prayer for God to unite us as Afrikans", responding to a fan who had asked on Twitter the meaning of the title of this beautiful song. This is not the first time Judith had sought to collaborate with fellow Afrikan musicians. Another beautiful one she did was from her 2005 album. The album was called 'New Begginings', a ballad inclined record with a lot of other goodies, but in it lay a gem of a collaboration with Zimbabwe's 'Prodigal Son', Oliver 'Tuku' Mtukudzi, a very beautiful song called 'Kupedza Nguva', a Shona title. I myself recently got an opportunity to arrange the vocals of 'Mbote' for the 'Chevrolet Feather Awards' that were held at the Johannesburg City Hall in 2015. Those are the two prime and recent examples I can quote, there has to be others that are not covered on a wide scale, perhaps.

The point remains, 'nothing can stop an idea whose time has come'. The youths of Afrika are beginning to see similarities amongst themselves. I feel that this is an exodus that has to be welcomed by all and sundry. Allow our vibrant and colourful cultures to collide beautifully. Allow ourselves to drink from the juices that will emanate from that conglomeration of the cultures' explosion.
Let us allow love and tolerance to prevail through and through because this is exactly what our forebeares have been saying since time immemorial; that that which is against this continent is not and cannot be bigger than what binds us. This is a path that has to be encouraged, music and art can cause us to willingly hasten our steps.

ALUTA CONTINUA!!!

- written by Vusi Nhlapo
Composer & Arranger at Africappella

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