University of Johannesburg’s Institute of the Future of Knowledge (IFK) hosted a panel discussion that looked at music past its melodic tunes.
The discussion, held both in person at the Auckland Park campus as well as virtually, looked at the revolutionary insights of Miriam Makeba, Fela Kuti, Bob Marley and Tupac Shakur.
Vice chancellor of UJ, Professor Letlhokwa Mpedi started off proceedings and in his opening shared that the music of those spoken about had a large effect on society, blurring border lines and were catalysts for knowledge. As much, their music then became a reflection of ourselves.
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Director of the institute Professor Arthur Mutambara said these four creatives taught us all a great many things and their music has been central to change and liberation. Researchers and the professor formed the panel that would discuss each artist and what their music gave to us.
Speaking on Miriam Makeba was Nomsa Mwamuka who is also the author of Makeba: The Miriam Makeba Story. Mwamuka shared how Makeba’s 30 years in exile were spent on stage not only singing but speaking of the injustices faced by those on the African continent. “Her greatest strength was using her platform for social change. Artists such as her were activists regardless of the sacrifices to themselves.”
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Professor Tendayi Sithole spoke on Fela Kuti and described him as someone who was bold and fearless in his speech. He said Kuti was a critical thinker, who confronted power head on. “He was not just a musician; he was frank and had truth you cannot separate Fela from these traits.”
When speaking on Tupac Shakur, Prof. Mutambara in part said it is individuals like Tupac who inspired individuals and changed the world. “A poet with a mind – a reflection of his society while being a voice for the voiceless.”
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