Africa University and the Zimbabwe College of Music Graduate 116 Music Professionals
6 July 2018
The African continent is well known for its unapologetic, energetic, moving and soulful musical traditions that have transcended continents. In New Orleans, USA, Afro-Caribbean musical influences and styles introduced by slaves during the 18th century to this day dominate the popular Jazz landscape adding a unique flavour and complexity to the genre. The same can be said for Cuba, Brazil, large swathes of Latin America and to a greater extent the world at large with the current love for the intoxicating rhythm of Afro- Beat hits churned out periodically from West Africa giving rise to prominent musicians from abroad adopting the music style and vibrant dances of the continent and often seeking collaborations with Africa based artists.
There has never been a better time to celebrate and nurture African talent and music than now and Africa University together with its affiliate college, the only of its kind in the country, the Zimbabwe College of Music based in Harare, graduated over 116 students who earned their certifications in fields ranging from Jazz, Musical Theory and Ethnomusicology that reflects on the rich narrative and story of African music and its power in defining the continent’s identity, its struggle to find its voice and the Pan- African revolution.
40% of the graduating class were women which is a notable number that reflects the increasing participation of women in the musical field and that they are staking their claim as a force to be reckoned with in this area. Women have often faced barriers to their entry into music due to cultural misconceptions of the role women play in the industry with more “acceptable” forms of female participation in music being relegated to the religious sphere.
Executive Director for the Zimbabwe College of Music, Dr R. C. Chigwanda explained,
“It is… encouraging. This is a huge gender mainstreaming effort the College has embarked on to empower women in music who, for a long time, have been at the society’s receiving end in stereotyping and name calling. Due to the significance of our music programs, the College has experienced a substantial increase in enrolment by women.”
She went on to highlight that the lack of agency towards gender mainstreaming in the music industry was only the tip of the ice berg with the profession in general struggling to assert itself as a viable career option for talented artists within Zimbabwe and Africa. Dr. Chigwanda went on to say,
“Despite some of the negative perceptions that our societies have had in the past about music, Zimbabwe College of Music has remained resolute and focused on its core business which is to produce musical arts professionals. We feel proud to be significant players in the development of manpower in the music industry in Zimbabwe and abroad as our comprehensive programs are designed to suit students with various needs”.
The Director thanked Africa University and the Vice Chancellor Professor Munashe Furusa who graced the occasion for his guidance and stewardship of the College and its programmes through the AU College of Social Sciences, Theology, Humanities and Education (CSSTHE) to ensure that they are contextually relevant, have a global perspective and empower the graduands to realize their dreams.
Also in attendance from AU was the Interim Dean of the CSSTHE Dr. M. Gowa – Kapesa, The Acting Director of Information and Public Affairs Mr. I. Fungai and Head of the Department of Music and director of the hugely popular AU Choir Mr. T. Kuture. High level representatives from the Government of Zimbabwe showed their undying support and endorsement of the joint vision of AU and ZCM including the Honourable Minister of Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development Prof. A. Murwira who was the guest of honour and The Honourable Minister of Youth, Sports, Arts and Recreation Kazembe Kazembe by actively participating in the graduation ceremony.
Africa University, through building and actively seeking out strategic partnerships aims to make the attainment of world class education easily accessible for a wider market which is directly aligned to its core mandate of impactful transformation and investment in Africa’s largest asset, her people.