Getting the Ubuntu Going!

Author/Producer ESCalate
  • Jenny Hughes (University of Worcester)
Published in Issue 5 Summer 06: New Academic Resolution - Let's get out more
Date Published Summer 2006
Pages 1


By Jenny Hughes, University of Worcester


In 1998, after attending the ISME (International Society for Music Education) conference in Pretoria, South Africa, I stayed on for an extra week, having been invited to give music workshops to both student and serving teachers around the country. As a result, not only did I have an opportunity to observe the new South Africa at first hand, I also came home with a small collection of songs. These were taught to me by teachers from a range of different communities including former African townships and informal communities (formerly known as shanty towns) as well as universities and colleges of education. I have continued to teach some of these to my students and to try and convey an understanding of the term ‘Ubuntu’ as applied to music. This ancient African concept roughly translated means ‘wholeness’ or ‘humaneness’, and when translated into music my understanding is that it implies that everyone is welcome to join in at whatever level they wish. There is talk of ‘getting the Ubuntu going’, which means a sense of community and togetherness fuelled by the music. It explained for me why so much African music is cyclic in form; as the music is repeated so the less confident gain in confidence and the skilled take up opportunities to improvise and embellish...