Koša Ke Nnete: A Genealogy of South African Musical Practices

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Text: BLK Thought Music

Photograph: BLK Thought Music

Introducing a method of conceptual sonicity.

Black Thought Symposium is a collective of artists, scholars and members of the community who are interested in using aesthetics as a theoretical site for understanding and giving account to the world we live in. The collective is committed to the development of arts and politics in a way that will translate into material change in our society. Black Thought Symposium understands the importance of conversation, but we are not just a talk shop, we are interested in ensuring that our abstractions find expression in the concrete. The history of South Africa is one of exclusion and this history still permeates our present. Throughout the years, we have strived to create a space where the expression of thought and ideas is not based on class, race, sexuality and other societal stratifications. We are also interested in the interrogation and sustenance of black artistic practices which have not been adequately theorized and given attention. This is to say we want to redefine what the university is and by implication what study and learning ought to look like. Black Thought Symposium seeks to reimagine what we know as the classroom, gallery, theatre and stage. At its core it is to find new languages and vocabularies to express and articulate the black experience without completely dispensing the old ones.

BLK Thought Music organizes with and forms part of the Black Thought Symposium.

In the past years, the collective has organised, curated and participated in events which include but not limited to: (a) post-traumatic music therapy sessions for children with Childline – Soul Buddies; (b) a musical symposium titled ‘Discourses from the Margins’ in partnership with UCT SRC, which sought to interrogate intersectionality and how it is negotiated in spaces of marginality vis a vis dominant public/popular spaces; and (c) a musical research project and symposium titled ‘Ingomayomzabalazo: song as struggle and resistance’ in partnership with the University of Stellenbosch, iPhuphoL’kaBiko and WSOA, which sought to interrogate the significance and meaning of struggle songs in relation to the act of resistance and/or struggle.

We are undertaking the process of documenting our findings from these projects through a soon to be released docu-film and publication.

Our forthcoming event which will be hosted on Thursday 26th of April 2018 at Drama for Life Emakhaya Theatre, Wits University is titled Koša Ke Nnete: A Genealogy of South African Musical Practices. This project is an inquiry on the historical concerns of South African social, political and aesthetic struggles as expressed in music. We seek to explore the temporal movements of discourse on race, colonialism, class, gender and sexuality in different musical genres.

This project is part of a series of artistic explorations which seek to interrogate the historical expressions of black social life in various South African musical genres. We do not think of music as merely a means of entertainment, we think of music as a conceptual field of knowledge and practices.

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