South African Music Studies

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Global maskanda, global music historiography? Some preliminary enquiries

B Titus


Maskanda is increasingly being sold and appreciated as ‘world music’ outside South Africa. Thus, maskanda’s narratives, symbols and signs that served the particular purpose of Zulu identity formation in apartheid and post-apartheid South Africa now enter a global public domain. In this international context, ‘Zuluness’ seems to be a token for even vaguer
constructions of ‘Africanness’ in which long-standing aesthetic ideals and fantasies are embedded. Archetypes such as the ‘wandering musician’, and qualifications of music as central to the oral transmission of heritage powerfully exert their influence on the commercial dynamics of global ‘world music’ markets, and they all prominently feature representations of maskanda. The article reveals how these fantasies can be retraced to
European as well as Zulu traditions of musical thought. By describing these traditions as part of a shared history, rather than as disparate ones, the author intends to ‘indigenise’ European aesthetics as just some of many intellectual traditions in the world, in the hope of arriving at a global historiographical discourse in which musicologists from various parts of the world have a more equal opportunity to frame (their) local traditions on their own terms and in their own languages.
AJOL African Journals Online