Three African students share the different roles of music for them
Lindokuhle Mbuli said he expresses himself through music. He said he appreciates the melody, the message, and the story behind the song. Mbuli is a freshman majoring in biochemistry, from the Kingdom of Eswatini, South Africa. He said, “Music is a way to express yourself, a way to show the world who you are.”
Vimbayinashe Jennifer Mutsvangwa, a freshman majoring in social work from Zimbabwe, said for her “music is a way of communicating, to tell a story ... and also to relax your mind.” She said she listens to music when she feels stressed or overwhelmed because through music, her mind feels free.
Similarly, Kenneth Dadson, a freshman majoring in informational technology from Ghana, expressed, “Music is life. It is a way of escaping reality, and a source of motivation and acceptance.”
Dadson explained he uses music when he is missing home and his family, as well as when he feels down and lost. Dadson said music helps motivate him and helps him continue on through difficulties.
In Zimbabwe, Mutsvangwa said the biggest way Zimbabweans use music for celebration is at traditional weddings. She said people at the wedding communicate through music.
In a traditional Zimbabwean wedding, the groomsmen sing a song and the message couldbe a story or a question for the bride or thebride’s family, Mutsvangwa explained. She said the bride or the bride’s family will respond by singing as well.
Dadson also agreed weddings are a huge part of Ghanaian culture and one of the biggest ways they use music to celebrate. “We see [music] as bringing the whole community together,” he said. Dadson said the bride does a dance followed by the groom. Then they come together to dance. He said this represents the bond and celebrates the new union between the newly wedded and their families.
Mbuli discussed a different celebration, called Umhlanga, which is very dear to the culture in the Kingdom of Eswatini. He explained Umhlanga is a celebration where young girls of the country perform dances and sing songs to pay tribute to the King and Queen Mother. Mbuli explained the young girls create their own songs depicting what is going on in their life and what is happening around the country. He said the Umhlanga ceremony is a symbol of unity in their nation.
Music and culture
Dadson described, “Music in our culture, is all about connectivity. It’s more than teaching history. It’s about how music connects to our souls as Ghanaians.” He said music creates joy that can be shared and experienced amongst others. Dadson added music connects people in ways words simply cannot.
Mbuli said music in his country is “a way to express yourself. It is a way to celebrate and share your worries.” He said music gives his people hope something better is ahead. Even though they may be experiencing hardships, there is hope things will get better, Mbuli shared.
“We use music to tell our history,” Mutsvangwa stated. She said through Afro music, R&B and traditional African music, her culture is able to express the history of their people. She said the Zimbabwean culture believes it is easier to communicate through music and sometimes it is even considered boring to share a message through talking. Music makes it interesting and touches others, she said.