Music in Africa.

Music and dance have played an essential role in people’s ability to interact and celebrate occasions since the dawn of time, with various sounds announcing critical functions. Music is a social practice in Africa that almost everyone partakes in (Ngcobo, 2020). With different traditions followed by a melody, music illustrates African ideals. Music is used to commemorate many significant occasions. In countries like Nigeria, Angola, South Africa, etc., we see music-making a big difference to the community and their countries’ economy. In South Africa, music education is making a difference in the lives of the disabled. According to (Swart 2019), Music education gives hope to the youth; those who lack discipline learn discipline through music, which creates a change of attitude and provides hope to the child from disadvantaged backgrounds. 

Is music education significant?

Music plays a significant role in every individual’s life in various ways. Musical education aids language and reasoning development: individuals who receive early musical training develop the brain’s communication and reasoning regions. Music helps cultivate the left side of the brain, and songs can help imprint information on young minds (“NAfME”, 2014). Music doesn’t only help us learn languages but also connects people with different backgrounds. In so many scenarios, we see other people enjoying the same type of music. The value of music education is evident because a child’s career is formed from an early age. If schools are a pathway into one’s employment, it is clear that music education is essential. Who will become the future music teachers if music education is excluded from schools? Music creates change politically, economically and also socially. 

Politics in music

Music is being used for more than just entertainment. It is also being used to effect change. The right lyrics, rhythm, and instruments can help establish a group’s identity, elicit strong emotions, engage audiences, and mobilize people to act. As a result, music is an excellent partner for social change. In Africa, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), bands, and activists use music to make a difference (Silva, 2013). Bobi Wine from Uganda is an excellent example of someone who has used his music to attract young people and peacefully express his views on Ugandan politics. Fela Kuti used music as a culturally appropriate political resistance tool in Nigeria throughout the military regimes’ nursing era. This tool’s capability is known within the historical and non-secular contexts of Fela’s work; this tool’s ability is known as empowering the people and threatening the state (HANNA, n.d.). The preceding illustrates the extent to which music influences a wide range of areas.

Music and the economy

Cities benefit in a variety of ways from a thriving music economy. It promotes job creation, economic development, tourism development, creative development, and enhancing a city’s brand. A vibrant music scene attracts highly qualified young people from all industries who value the quality of life. As a result, there is an improvement in business investment (Terrill & Jacob, 2015). Nigeria is an excellent example. Statistics from (Statista” 2021) show Nigeria’s music industry income from 2014 to 2018, with a forecast until 2023. “Nigeria’s music income increased from 26 million US dollars in 2014 to 34 million US dollars in 2018, with the profit expected to reach 44 million US dollars by 2023.”

According to the 2013 Nashville Music Industry Report PDF, the music industry contributed USD5.5 billion to the local economy and helped build and maintain more than 56,000 local jobs. According to the 2012 census in Melbourne, Australia, the live music industry alone generated over AUD1 billion in spending and supported 116,000 full-time jobs (Terrill & Jacob, 2015). The above is evidence of the benefits of having a community that accepts music rather than creating a stigma around music. 

The social space and music

Music stimulates the human brain and also helps different individuals interact with each other. Many people are connected and create strong bonds just by appreciating the same genre of music. Musicians Against Xenophobia gathered musicians from Mozambique, South Africa, and Zimbabwe to create four anti-discrimination songs. In other countries, music is used as therapy for certain mental disorders. Imagine the impact music would have if every youth in Rwanda interested were allowed to learn and gain music education skills. 

Music education in Rwanda

Western education was presented in Rwanda in the twentieth century, when Christian preachers started to set up houses of worship and schools worldwide, starting with establishing the top school in Rwanda by Roman Catholic ministers in 1900 (Trines, 2019). Education since then has not been changed but has been modified in a more western way, therefore leaving more of the Rwandan traditions behind. 

Music is a massive part of Rwanda’s culture/tradition. However, it is not taught in schools as a subject. ‘The current competency-based educational plan incorporates English, Kinyarwanda, math, sciences, data innovation, history, topography, business, French, Kiswahili, and actual instruction, just as one elective subject (home science, or horticulture)’ (Trines, 2019). This shows the lack of Africanness in the education curriculums in the country. By leaving out music, we deny the youth the knowledge they deserve to know about their history.

Rwanda has attempted to reduce stigma and improve music in the country; however, few institutions educate the youth about music, leading to little progress in the music industry. Wage inequality causes issues for those concerned. Managers take advantage of this confusion by ‘poaching’ musicians just hours before a performance, or musicians can get a better deal with short notice (Mia, 2018). Due to the lack of a conducive environment, many musicians migrate from Rwanda to other countries. This is a big challenge for the country and also the upcoming youth passionate about music. 

How can we improve the situation?

An increasing number of children are dropping out of schools to follow their dreams in the music industry, leading many unemployed youths. If we don’t encourage the child to follow their dreams and carry on our traditions, then who will live to tell Rwanda’s story to the next generation to come? 

For a very long time, westerners have been narrating our stories. I believe this would be the best way and time to put our foot down and tell our stories as Africans. For music education to be accessible to every individual, implement Music in Rwanda’s education curriculum. As a result, creativity will increase; the youth will have better skills in expressing themselves; this will create socio-economic development change, boost our culture and at the same time, create attraction. It is time to challenge the ministry of education to break down this western education they are feeding us and make an education system that supports our backgrounds as Rwandans/Africans. I would love to see Rwanda as a country full of dreams and passion run to and not where people run. We can create a conducive environment for music education by reducing the stigma/stereotypes around music by promoting upcoming artists and empowering Rwanda to explore their full potential in music. If we invest in youth and music education, the music industry can contribute significantly to its GDP.

In conclusion, youth need a chance to live their dreams instead of being forced to slave in a job they do not appreciate just for the sake of impressing the community. I want to create an environment where the youth can freely express themselves without the fear of being judged or labelled. In this case, music would be a breakthrough to Western education systems, stigma against our traditions, and hope for the youth.


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