Role of South African Revolutionary Songs Explored by Graduate
Mr Nhlakanipho Ngcobo recently graduated from the College of Humanities with his Honours in Applied Ethnomusicology. His research looked at the role of revolutionary songs in different communities and contexts such as songs in different protest actions from communities, workers, students to political organisation members’ strikes.
It looks at how these songs influence social change, their evolution from apartheid to the democratic era and their relevance today in South Africa.
Ngcobo believes that there is a misconception about revolutionary songs, their role and whom they are directed at. ‘This misconception erases the reality and relevance of these songs.’
Through his research, he wants society to be able to understand deeply the role of these songs and how they can be used to shape and challenge unpleasant social conditions, while also praising the good deeds. ‘Through these songs people will be able to understand their history and political heroes, these songs will help them to unite, understand and exercise their rights in contribution to building a prosperous South Africa.’
Asked about the findings of his research, Ngcobo replied: ‘Revolutionary songs encourage unity as they are sung by huge groups of people with the same vision, these songs encourage people to exercise their rights, for example workers and students rights.’
‘They give hope and strength to people. They are educational, instructional; they are archives and our heritage. These songs are able to exist in different contexts without changing their lyrics but meaning, they also allow for creativity. These songs deal with issues at hand and encourage rapid composition.’
Ngcobo was also one of UKZN’s Top 40 most inspiring students for 2014, also presenting his honours research project at the ICTM International symposium and Kenyatta University Culture Seminar (Kenya). He will also be presenting his research paper at the 43rd World Conference of the International Council for Traditional Music, which will be held in Astana, Kazakhstan in July 2015.
‘I am also on a Local Arrangements Committee of the 10th Anniversary of the African Cultural Calabash and the 1st International Council for Traditional Music of African Music Study Group Symposium to be held at UKZN Howard College campus from the 30th of September - 3rd of October 2015.’
Currently, Ngcobo is commencing his Masters in Applied Ethnomusicology in the School of Arts, and is hopeful to continue onto his PhD. ‘I see myself in the future as a professional Applied Ethnomusicologist and an academic.’
Dr Patricia Opondo, his supervisor has found Ngcobo’s work to be relevant and timely. ‘He shows enormous potential and he is indeed a great writer with an acute, analytical mind.’