The Societal Value of Music in the Xhosa Culture

Conference: The Kyoto Conference on Arts, Media & Culture (KAMC2021)
Title: The Societal Value of Music in the Xhosa Culture
Stream: Performing Arts Practices: Theater, Dance, Music
Presentation Type: Live-Stream Presentation
Authors:
Benjamin Izu, Nelson Mandela University, South Africa
Alethea DeVilliers, Nelson Mandela University, South Africa

Abstract:

Traditional music is a culturally crafted and created music of a particular ethnic group, orally transmitted from one generation to another with an unknown creator. In Africa generally, music plays an important part in the lives of the people and one of the major characteristics of African music is that it has cultural function. The various stages of the life cycle of an individual in Xhosa society are commemorated with traditional music performance. The purpose of this paper is to depict the social, cultural and religious functions traditional music within Xhosa people’s cultural context, and to place Xhosa people’s indigenous music in its social context. This paper will show that Xhosa traditional music as well as other African traditional music depicts various functions including religious, social, cultural, ritual, and moral. These functions and values inform the African way of life. This shows that traditional music performance has huge impact on the life cycle of African peoples. Traditional music is sometimes used to appease or elicit favours from the ancestors. The qualitative approach was used in this paper to interrogate the rich content and narratives of the Xhosa people’s experience and understanding of the societal value of traditional music in the society, through an in-depth analysis of existing literatures pertaining to African music traditions.



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