Accepted Paper:

Promoted Culture and Local Strategies – The Indigenous Music and Oral History Project and its recent activities  


Bernhard Bleibinger (University of Fort Hare)

Paper long abstract:

Since its launch at the University of Fort Hare, in 2003, the mission of the Indigenous Music and Oral History Project (IMOHP) has been the conservation and promotion of indigenous culture, and in terms of this aim research has been undertaken in rural villages of the Eastern Cape. Conservation has meant the interviewing of older people and recording their “traditional“ knowledge on musical practice, terminology and musical instruments. This knowledge is still an essential component of the music modules offered at the Music Department of the University of Fort Hare, and it is promoted above all within so-called “community outreach projects”, i.e. workshops organised by the researchers in order to make people again familiar with their own culture.

Nevertheless there are some more aspects to be considered nowadays. Indigenous music, as recent recearch trips brought to light, plays a fundamental role in local strategies. Groups such as the Nzenzeleni Performing Group or the Melani Confirmation Choir use it in order to transmit traditional values and to inform children and juvenile people about AIDS, the abuse of drugs and even crime.

As a consequence the IMOHP is slightly readjusting its focus in observing the above-mentioned local strategies, and in this context also the work of diviners as well as clashes between tradition and modernity.

Panel F2
Oral history