Walter Sisulu University launches African Music and Heritage Archive

BY SUPPLIED - OCTOBER 15, 2015

Four albums were launched and brand new orchestra instruments unveiled as WSU launched its African Music and Heritage Archive at the institution’s Nelson Mandela Drive Site in Mthatha recently.

The project, started in 1997, has amassed an impressive collection that includes over 17 000 LPs, nine 78 RPM Schlock, and over 9 000 singles, amongst other material.

This is all thanks to financial backing from the National Lotteries Commission (NLC) which has funded the project to the tune of over R4 million.

As part of on-going development, brand new state-of-the-art equipment sits ready to receive throngs of students, researchers and community members interested in accessing music that may no longer be commercially available.

“The lab equipment has been installed already and is in operation. Interested parties will have access to state-of-the-art computer facilities that will assist them to surf the net, listen to music for study and research purposes,” says the project’s coordinator Prof Luvuyo Dontsa. 

Inspiring performances by the University’s arts and culture departmental choir, Is’cathamiya (a cappella group) ; Ulwamvila (marimba band); Embo Ma-Afrika (traditional Xhosa dance group), as well as Women in Jazz, all formed by current and former WSU students, displayed their musical prowess – easing any apprehensions the NCL might have had about the investment.

A brand new orchestra comprising violins, violas, piccolos, flutes, oboes, trumpets, trombones, bassoons, cellos, double basses and timpani percussions was also unveiled during a tour of the archive to show the sponsors how the University had spent the funding.

Eastern Cape NLC manager Sarah Hugow welcomed the developments following the tour and hailed it an important intervention in preserving African heritage through music.

“The NCL makes dreams a reality, giving back to the community through the money you spend on lotto tickets. Those monies don’t only benefit those who strike the jackpot, but continuously fund worthwhile projects that help build our communities,” said Hugow.

The project is also devoted to archiving scores (sheet music), pamphlets on music, analytical notes, concert programs, posters, biographical notes, leaflets, photographs; capacitate students, researchers, artists and the community with both traditional and pop arts in Africa.

WSU Acting Spokesperson said the initiative would prove incredibly important in the University’s efforts to improve teaching and learning, as well as gaining access to information for research purposes.