Kerr and Mhishi on Music in Dar es Salaam and Zimbabwe

Finding Africa Seminar

30 April 2019

4-5.30 pm

Leeds Humanities Arts Research Institute (Seminar Room 2)

Abstracts

Singeli, Urban Space and the Temporalities of Electronic Music Production in Dar es Salaam by David Kerr

As Bayat has argued, the street is the public space “par excellence” for those excluded from the institutions of public life in which people can “assemble, make friends, earn a living, spend their leisure time, and express discontent” (Bayat 2013, 52). In this paper, I explore the emergence at street events in Dar es Salaam’s informal settlements of a new electronically produced musical genre, Singeli. Unplanned settlements, known as uswahilini, the area where the Swahili live, were central to the development of Singeli. Uswahilini exist largely on the margins of the state and this absence of state regulation affords distinct possibilities for creative expression. 

Performed at street gatherings on the edges of the cities political, social and musical infrastructure, Singeli began when DJs isolated, looped and increased the speed of instrumental sections of older popular Tanzanian songs, thus enabling singers to perform live over popular tracks. This bricolage of older Tanzanian song snippets produced a unique sonic landscape. Singeli sonically embodies the space of uswahilini. In this paper, I explore the role that its location socially and geographically has played in the creation and circulation of Singeli. I suggest the relationship between Singeli and the genres from which it borrows to constitute itself provide a lens through which to explore how young people play with the multiple temporalities of nostalgia and anticipation as well as those of the past, present and future.

Crossings, Convivialities and Imaginings: Music and Zimbabwean Struggles with Abjection by Lennon Mhishi

This discussion is an attempt at sounding out the question, to borrow from Yvonne Vera, “Why Don’t You Carve Other Animals?” when it comes to writing and thinking Africa, Zimbabwe in particular. In asking this question, some of the entanglements of power and knowledge may be encountered. The dominant narrative on Zimbabwe, like most of Africa, has been on tyranny and crisis.  A substantive body of work on Zimbabwean ‘migrants’— especially in South Africa and the UK,—has provided an important foundation for understanding the complexities of (im)mobility, especially in relation to the socio-political and economic challenges of the past decade and counting in Zimbabwe. Part of the present struggle, if it can be characterised as such, is how to begin or continue to theorise being Zimbabwean outside, or not over-archingly defined by, the sensational and necrophiliac politics that have been the dominant lens through which Zimbabwe has been viewed. I propose to explore this through the transnational experiences of ethnographic work conducted in London on music, identity and belonging, and recent travels to Zimbabwe. In a sense, these entail some of the conversations concerning African migration and diaspora. Music here is the thread I am using to suture imaginings of Zimbabwe from within, and outside. To write or think of an outside, and to also acknowledge how music exists within, and can inherently cohere with politics, somewhat constitutes in this instance a rejection of any fundamental outside in itself. It caters more to a movement, a dancing and swinging around the politics, (un)bounded and institutional, quotidian and simultaneously ,carried by and within Zimbabwean bodies, even in realms imagined as outside the physical borders and the dominant tropes of the politics of Zimbabwe, or being Zimbabwean.

About Our Speakers

Dr David Kerr

Dr David Kerr is currently a Post-Doctoral Research Fellow at the University of Johannesburg working on street performance, everyday epistemologies and urban space, in Dar es Salaam. His obtained a PhD from the University of Birmingham in 2014 and has published in his fields of cultural and social anthropology, cultural studies and media studies.

Dr Lennon Mhishi

Dr Lennon Mhishi is a Postdoctoral Research Associate in the Politics department at the University of Liverpool. Prior to joining the University of Liverpool, Lennon has conducted ethnographic research in Harare, Johannesburg, and London. His doctoral work in anthropology, at SOAS University of London, explored the migrant and diasporic experiences of music, identity and belonging amongst Zimbabweans in London, whilst foregrounding these experiences as part of the genealogy of African and black presence and expressive culture in Britain. He is currently part of a project, led by Professor Alex Balch, exploring how the arts and humanities can be utilised in tackling contemporary forms of slavery in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Libya’s Trapped African Migrants: A Case of Postmodern Slavery

Libya

We are pleased to announce that the next seminar in our Theorising Africa series will be a paper titled “Libya’s Trapped African Migrants: A Case of Postmodern Slavery” which will be delivered by Nolwazi Nadia Ncube on 24 April at 4pm in the LHRI Seminar Room 1. This series is hosted in association with LUCAS and is open to all. Feel free to join our Facebook community to keep up with future events and announcements.

libya-810x456

Abstract

This paper adopts an interdisciplinary approach bringing together the field of Media Studies and Sociology, using Ross Kemp’s 2017 documentary entitled ‘Libya’s Migrant Hell’ as an entry point into the reconceptualization of this particular case of trapped migration as a form of not only postcolonial, but postmodern slavery. In this case study, migrants predominately from Côte d’Ivoire, Gambia, Niger, Nigeria, Sierra Leone and Sudan in an exodus to Europe via Libya are taking great stakes for a ‘better life’ in Europe. Within this process of pursuing a better life, some of these migrants are held ransom for the price of their continued; exploited and exposed to gendered vulnerabilities and harm en route to Italy. They are trapped in an existence that is neither here – in their country of origin – nor there – in their desired destination. The paper explores these migrants through the lens of the ‘fourth space’, which is drawn from Bhabha’s (1994) concept of a ‘third space’.

This paper proposes that these African migrants exist in fourth space – trapped, unwanted, unrecognised and forgotten by (i) Libya, (ii) Europe and (iii) their home country. The paper critiques the Weberian concept of ‘lebeschancen’ (life chances) employing the Ndebele proverb ‘ithemba alibulali’ (hope does not kill) as an extended metaphor and African appropriation of their condition that encapsulates the dehumanizing dangers of seeking a better life at any and all costs. The operationalization of this proverb into a conceptual tool in this paper marks une petite rupture with the transposition of African theories into and onto existing frames of European philosophical thought. In a quasi-non-conformist fashion, the paper breaks away from rather than replicates and re-enforces value-laden binaries such as better/worse, modern/traditional and developed/developing amidst a dominant tide of academic rhetoric in which ‘indigenous’ and ‘ethno’ are prefixed to African epistemologies in such a way as to delegitimise them as theories by fixating on their locality. In this instance Ndebele refers to the language spoken by the same-named African tribe in Zimbabwe, also known as the Matabele.

About Nolwazi Nadia Ncube 

NadiaNcubeNolwazi Nadia Ncube is a PhD student at the Department of Sociology at the University of Aberdeen. Her main research interests are the Sociology of Reproduction and the Body, Socio-linguistics, Gender Studies, Development Studies, Public Health and Transmigration Studies. She is Elphinstone Scholar at the University of Aberdeen who is interested in theory from and of Africa and her PhD topic which is titled, Menstruation Narratives: Through Narratives of the Zimbabwean Rural Girl Child aims to capture cultural narrative in a work linked to a program that she founded in 2015 called ‘Save the Girl-with-a-Vision’ (SGV). The program supports 70 girls in the village of Mbizingwe in Esigodini, Zimbabwe. Through SGV, Nadia advocates for the sexual reproductive health and rights of rural girl and widens the access to sanitary wear for the SGV programme beneficiaries in an effort to curb school girl absenteeism. Nadia speaks Ndebele, Zulu, Shona, French and English. She considers her proficiency in these languages to be a rich archive from which critical theories of Africa can be accessed and transformed.

Nadia holds three degrees in Sociology from UCT – a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.), a Bachelor of Social Science (Honours) in Development Studies and Master of Social Science in Global Studies. During her master’s she was the awardee of the merit-based International Student Scholarship. She has a heart for the plight of women, children and marginalised groups and is a published poet, journalist and creative writer with a fourthcoming article in the African Journal of Social Work entitled, ‘Citizenship Alterities: The Case of Birth Registration: the Case of Birth Registrations in the Tongogara Refugee Camp of Zimbabwe’ (Ncube, Chimbwanda & Willie, 2018).

Re-thinking Sunjata: Epics and Epistemology in West African Oral Narratives

The next seminar paper in our Theorising Africa series will be delivered by Stephen Bulman and is entitled “Re-thinking Sunjata: epics and epistemology in West African oral narratives”. The seminar will take place on 27 March at the LHRI seminar room 1 at 4pm. The event is free and open to all.

mansa-musa-604

Abstract

African oral epics, in common with African oral traditions as a whole, have in the past too often been understood as hallowed messages from the past, handed down unchanged from generation to generation. New thinking based on analysis of Manding epics about Sunjata Keita and his rival for power Sumanguru Kante, two legendary rulers from the pre-colonial era, suggests that such oral traditions are part of a cultural meta-discourse fashioned and re-fashioned over time in response to social and political shifts; and their tellers, hereditary griots or jeliw, intellectual actors whose narratives help shape and re-form the identities of, and relationships between, cultural and social groups. This seminar will examine how the recently published Epic of Sumanguru Kante, a narrative retelling medieval Mali’s foundation from the perspective of Sunjata’s defeated rival, offers fresh insights into the role of African historical oral poetry in shaping Manding ‘oral historiography’ and epistemology.

He said: It is true, indeed, I came with my name. My name is Soo-Maanguru. That’s the meaning of being Sumanguru. He said: I, here, I will not be slave. I will not be lackey.

– Bulman The Epic of Sumanguru Kante (2017)

About Stephen Bulman

bulmanStephen Bulman (Ph.D. Birmingham 1990) studied the Epic of Sunjata as a doctoral student. He has taught history at Newman University in Birmingham, worked as an academic at Leeds Trinity University and Cumbria University, and has published several studies of the Epic of Sunjata and related African oral traditions including, with Valentin Vydrine, a critical source edition of The Epic of Sumanguru (Brill, 2017) based on an oral epic he recorded in the Republic of Mali.

Final Call: 2nd Narrative Enquiry for Social Transformation International Conference 2018

Finding Africa

NEST logo2nd Narrative Enquiry for Social Transformation (NEST) International Conference

22-24 March 2018

University of the Witwatersrand

Keynote Speakers

51Hhdp4PAYL._SX313_BO1,204,203,200_Molly Andrews is Professor of Political Psychology, and Co-director of the Centre for Narrative Research (www.uelac.uk/cnr/index.html) at the University of East London. Her research interests include political narratives, the psychological basis of political commitment, political identity, patriotism, and aging. She is currently working on a project called The Unbuilding of East Germany: Excavating Biography and History. Her books include Lifetimes of Commitment: Aging, Politics, Psychology and Shaping History: Narratives of Political Change (both Cambridge University Press), and Narrative Imagination and Everyday Life (Oxford University Press). Her publications have appeared in five languages.

regarding_muslimslr-180x260Gabeba Baderoon is the author of Regarding Muslims: from Slavery to Postapartheid (awarded the 2017 National Institute for the Humanities and Social Sciences Best Non-fiction Monograph Award) and the poetry collections The Dream in the Next Body,

View original post 543 more words

CFP Theorising Africa: Reviewing a History of Ideas

Finding Africa

21314649_1471303176288228_2685142725548250835_n

CALL FOR PAPERS

Theorising Africa: Reviewing a History of Ideas

University of Leeds

Seminar Series 2018

The field of cultural theory has – for as long as it’s been a discipline – been dominated by Western epistemologies.  Our ways of knowing have, undoubtably, always required a framework through which they can be conceptualised – or even legitimised. The consequence of this institutionalisation of thought, which has its roots in a myriad of complex historical and structural implementations of power, is that other epistemologies often get overlooked or even rebranded under different names or theories, at the behest of fitting the demands and criteria of Western academe. The notion of a history of ideas that is grounded in a Euro-American paradigm obscures, and limits, our understanding of and engagement with the multiplicities of meaning at work in cultural analysis. Theorising Africa seeks to explore what it means to be human, to…

View original post 249 more words

Final Call: 2nd Narrative Enquiry for Social Transformation International Conference 2018

NEST logo2nd Narrative Enquiry for Social Transformation (NEST) International Conference

22-24 March 2018

University of the Witwatersrand

 

Keynote Speakers

 

51Hhdp4PAYL._SX313_BO1,204,203,200_Molly Andrews is Professor of Political Psychology, and Co-director of the Centre for Narrative Research (www.uelac.uk/cnr/index.html) at the University of East London. Her research interests include political narratives, the psychological basis of political commitment, political identity, patriotism, and aging. She is currently working on a project called The Unbuilding of East Germany: Excavating Biography and History. Her books include Lifetimes of Commitment: Aging, Politics, Psychology and Shaping History: Narratives of Political Change (both Cambridge University Press), and Narrative Imagination and Everyday Life (Oxford University Press). Her publications have appeared in five languages.

 

regarding_muslimslr-180x260Gabeba Baderoon is the author of Regarding Muslims: from Slavery to Postapartheid (awarded the 2017 National Institute for the Humanities and Social Sciences Best Non-fiction Monograph Award) and the poetry collections The Dream in the Next Body, The Museum of Ordinary Life and A hundred silences. She is a recipient of the Daimler Award for South African Poetry and is a member of the editorial board of the African Poetry Book Fund. With Alicia Decker, Baderoon co-directs the African Feminist Initiative at Pennsylvania State University, where she is an Associate Professor of Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies and African Studies. She is an Extraordinary Professor of English at Stellenbosch University and a Fellow of the Stellenbosch Institute for Advanced Study.

 

 

CALL FOR PANELS AND PAPERS

Conference Theme

Narrative Enquiry for Social Transformation (NEST) is a research network launched in July 2015 with the aim to foster the theory and practice of narrative as a field of study through interdisciplinary research and empirical investigations into questions of human experience, development and social change. Its members are drawn from the Humanities and Social Sciences as well as creative and community-based constituencies. The current configuration of the NEST network allows for an articulation between the Arts, Social Sciences and Socio-psychological work.

NEST is informed by the principle that narrative is one of the defining features of what it means to be human. Personal and collective senses of self, experience, desires, fears and hopes are developed in and through narrative meaning-making, providing recognition and validation, and deepening our sense of human dignity across lines of difference and existence. The transformative possibilities of narrative lie in the ways in which it enables people to: give coherence to their lives and the world around them; develop forms of critical consciousness and thinking; imagine possible alternative social realities and futures; and, ultimately, not only to read them-selves and their place in the world but also to be read by others. It is people who make culture and culture that in turns remakes us, and this process is always political and potentially transformative.

Research Threads

NEST seeks to undertake research that traces ideologies, experiences and identities across time as constructed through inter / cross generational experience and storytelling; the reconstruction of (cultural memory); and transmission of unofficial histories and alternative narratives by ordinary people, particularly in families, communities, educational and creative contexts. Its research agenda incorporates a wide range of theoretical and critical conceptual and creative work that can be undertaken from multiple disciplinary perspectives and methodologies. The following constitute the core thematic threads of NEST:

  • The narrative formation of consciousness and subjectivities
  • Marginality, the body, affect and narrative
  • Narrative form and symbolic representations in multiple modalities: textual, visual, archival, aural and performative.
  • Intergenerational narratives.
  • Developing knowledge and praxis through empirical projects

We invite papers and panels that use NEST research threads as a catalyst but other explorations of any aspects related to narrative are also welcome.

Please send abstracts of up to 300 words for individual papers and / or panels by 15 October 2017 to the conveners at Jill.Bradbury@wits.ac.za and Bhekizizwe.Peterson@wits.ac.za

Once abstracts have been accepted, participants will be notified. The conference will take the form of pre-circulated papers for discussion.  Full Papers will be due a month in advance of the conference to allow sufficient time for discussants to read.

Conveners: Jill Bradbury and Bhekizizwe Peterson

Committee Members: Hugo Canham, Lindelwa Dalamba, Cynthia Kros, Ronelle Carolissen, Grace Musila, and Khwezi Mkhize.

NIHSS logoWITS-logo-full-colour-600x300