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African Music (East Africa) - Essay Example

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African music is an art that can be traced way back before the colonial period and has developed to the modern music production, which has been influenced by technology, as well as African and western cultures…
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African Music (East Africa)
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African Music (East Africa)

African music is an art that can be traced way back before the colonial period and has developed to the modern music production, which has been influenced by technology, as well as African and western cultures. These numerous languages come with their cultures in way of life and behavior. However, the dominant languages among them and their environment seem to influence the countries’ cultures and art. The highest percentage of the East African community comprises of Bantu speakers, majorly speaking in Swahili (in Kenya and Tanzania), Ganda in Uganda, and Kinyarwanda and Rundi in Rwanda and Burundi respectively. Swahili is spreading fast across the region, but English and French have increased in popularity among the societies. It has become easy for artists to compose music and poetry in these diverse languages to communicate with people in a much more familiar way; considering there are still native speakers who do not understand official languages of these countries. Vernacular influence in music: Existence of music in historic times in East Africa can be proven through the evidence of line figure rock art, which showed people playing musical instruments, at least as demonstrated by the rock paintings estimated to have existed over 30,000 years ago, in sites of lake Victoria, Sigindia, and Kondoa districts of Tanzania (Nannyonga-musuza and Solomon 34). In most rural areas, people speaking one language are densely populated in one area, while in cities and towns, the population comprises of people speaking different languages and from different cultural backgrounds. The same thing applies to East Africa, taking an example of Kenya; kikuyu is spoken highly in central Kenya, Kalenjin in the rift valley, Luo in the western parts around L. Victoria, and Cushitic languages on the north eastern part of the country. Kenya has moved ahead investing on media stations that relate to the people in their vernacular languages. The broadcasting stations communicate the messages from the news table and music in the same language. There are broadcasting stations which use official languages (English, Swahili, French, Ganda, Rundi, and Kinyarwanda) for general public communication, but would eventually promote the different cultures and languages in their music, to harmonize these cultures within the society. This promotes distinct peoples’ cultures and artistic works of poetry and music relating to similar issues that the language speakers deal with. Often, the native speakers and their cultures identify themselves by use of certain musical instruments. For example, Ramogi FM and Nam Lolwe FM broadcast in Luo language and the people would want to dance and sing to their musical genre, which uses instruments like nyatiti, traditionally called ‘thum,’ (an 8 stringed traditional instrument played with fingers or plectrum) (“Prof. Charles Nyakiti,”13). Most of the ethnic groups around Lake Victoria in Uganda and northern Tanzania use the instrument in traditional music and competition events. The common feature of nyatiti music dancers in East African region is dancing with pride, like an eagle, shaking limbs, shoulders, and fingers. Religion: Individual movements and community settlements in the past enhanced cultural adoption, growth of different faith, and conflicts in East Africa. Music and religion go hand in hand in any part of Africa. Christianity and Islamic religions have been dominant among others, and rely on music to lay out the history and teachings of the religions. During the pre-colonial period, Christianity spread fast in the main lands of East Africa, ... Read More
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