School of Arts

Graduate Calls for African Music and Dance Programmes in High Schools

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Ms Silindile Shazi.
Ms Silindile Shazi.

Passionate about music, the performing arts and a dream to build an arts centre in her hometown of Gamalakhe near Port Shepstone, Ms Silindile Shazi was thrilled when she graduated cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts honours degree. 

The first in her family to attend university and graduate, Shazi would like to see the introduction of African music and dance programmes in the curriculum at high schools in South Africa. ‘The issue is close to my heart,’ she said. ‘Growing up in a township, our schools did not offer programmes which included African music. People tend to undermine our cultural arts, so I want to show and teach the kids in high schools that our own music, dance, heritage and culture are as important as the Western versions,’ explained Shazi.

As part of research work for her degree, she introduced different instruments to learners on Durban’s Berea and discussed African music and dance courses available at UKZN as well as possible arts careers to follow.

Shazi says she experienced first-hand challenges schools face when trying to include African music and dance in courses offered.

One of Shazi’s research highlights was the fascination and interest shown by youngsters to learn more about African music, even requesting the programme to be introduced as an extra class.

‘Society needs to be reminded about the importance of culture as well as teaching our young adults about our proud heritage,’ said Shazi. ‘I feel we need programmes like these in schools, especially those based in townships and cities.’

Shazi, who is part of the UKZN Choir and costume designer, makeup artist and hairstylist for the group, was selected as one of the Asia World Model United Nations (AWMUN) IV delegates in Bali, Indonesia in July.

Currently studying for a Master of Arts degree, she was approached by an organisation in the Netherlands who saw her research documentary and are keen to work with her.

She is also a singer and will release two singles this year. In another musical venture, she is working with the Potency Twins on their EP to be released soon.

Shazi thanked her family, friends and supervisor Dr Patricia Opondo for their support.

Said Opondo: ‘Supervising Silindile’s work was a pleasure. She is full of innovative ideas with a strong sense of purpose and most significantly has the ability to work independently and constantly re-imagine herself. She has a bright future and is a beacon of light and hope for African Music and Dance, and Applied Ethnomusicology students.’

Shazi has the following advice for students: ‘Study with a purpose and always remind yourself why you started. Rest when you get tired, ask for help and start early. Procrastination is a disease.’

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