United Colours of Africa

Rhythm, music and politics

moshito (annual music conference) was first envisaged as an African music market. moshito means rhythm in Sepedi.

The music industry is governed by a collective of acronyms such as (SAMRO, RISA, CAPASSO) …

An integrative and transparent approach is required that inverts the pyramid with industry and business at the top.

I leant from Dr John Joubert that a natural person can never be represented (Re Presented). They can only present themselves. A representative body (such as all music industry acronyms, labels and umbrella bodies) is representing the already presented. This has the authenticity of a photocopy. And the more artificial networks they create amongst each other, the more the representations are re-represented creating confusion, like many generations of photocopies all claiming to be the same thing.

A transparent system can keep the music industrious but without an industry inbetween.

SAMRO and RISA control the industry and collect rights with them and related bodies such as

* Needletime refers to airplay for music on the radio. Radio stations pay for the privilege of playing music on air. That money is seldom if ever distributed fairly.

“In 2002 the Performance Quotation Act was amended to allow for administering of Needletime Rights. In 2006 SAMPRA and POSA administered needle rights. There were problems in the past with numerous court battles.” In 2014 SAMPRA + POSA agreed to merge to form CAPASSO, a new two headed acronym to replace the two separate acronyms with clashing heads.

Further research has led me to believe that CAPASSO was formed from the merger of NORM and SARRELL?

The government has taken an active interest in the music industry.

The Minister of Arts and Culture, Nathi Mthethwa said in his keynote address, “Music is a global business and enables a decent standard of living. The purpose of this conference is to consolidate business. We manage the impact of globalization. Parliament adopted a NDP to promote leadership and partnership amongst others. The conference must help upliftment strategies that government has implemented for content production, job creation and economic self reliance. President Jacob Zuma has taken a special interest in this sector. CCIFSA is an organization that will engage the state into rapid service delivery. If you talk as individuals you are opening up to favouritism, whereas CCIFSA is one voice and power to help to be heard better.”

But what happened to CCIFSA? Another aspect of the hierarchy where industry is protected by government and business is supported by industry.

Monica Newton a trained industrial psychologist said that one voice representing the many is easier to manage than many voices representing their unique selves.

Where the internet created a levelling factor, new technology is providing impetus for all voices to communicate with one another on a “peer to peer” basis.

From a financial perspective Minister Nathi Mthethwa made the outstanding remark that, “Digital revenues doubled in 2013 to 50% of the total market.” Live performance is expected to rise by 57% over the next two years in this industry worth 2.2BN.

The flip in the industry caused EMI records to close as well as others such as Sheer Sound.

And there is more time for “natural man,” to make the music that comes naturally. The only thing that can be authentic is the presentation itself. That is the learning of music and then the playing of music to the audience and the exchange that happens in that moment.

Senior South African Jazz singers, Dorothy Masuko and Letta Mbulu are two beautiful musicians who realized their dreams through love and support and wish a similar success on everybody else.

Dorothy Masuko said,

“I have songs that are 50 years old. Today the kids are not serious about what they are composing. South Africa is part of the region of Africa. The youngsters don't know they are Africans. You don't have to be black to be African. I am working with people like Karen Zoid, a young African girl. In the music field you don't have a colour. Not the modern music where you are making people feel worse.“

Letta Mbulu said,

“We are still telling the story in a charged manner. As artists we are controlled by the spirit, so there is no way we can stop singing what we sing. It is about life, politics of freedom and culture. We got under the skin of everybody including government to remind them they are there for the people. It is our responsibility to tell it like it is. We have a gift as South Africans. People take advantage of this gift and let our children run errant. It is because we feed them everyday American kwaito. Let's be real! We have incredible rapping like aboSotho and Maskanda. We are so afraid to deal with our own inferiority, we run away. It is us who make sure our children copy and don't grow. We need an “African Academy of the performing Arts” to learn the formulas of the music and grow in their activities. In America they have the rudiments. We need an academy in South Africa. Young people need to be able to go to school. There are sounds in South Africa that you will never hear anywhere else in this world. This is what you need to explore. Let's find the school that will unleash the talent in this country so you can fly.”

Jonas Gwangwa was asked to speak a little too. He said,

“We have to check our background, the music of the rural areas is our music. Mbaqanga is our traditional music played with western instruments. Our music is dying out because of everything American; the walk, the talk, the dress. What is going on? It was American music that was taken from Africa. We copy everything. American music is all African. It is all 3 chords. I have kept my career up because I am still doing my African thing.”

Education, indigenous wisdom, unleashing of human potential and the respect for basic human rights are the issues. These can be resolved through the playing of music and sharing of our ideas through musical workshops?

Pan African centres of music workshop include Abidjan Dakar, Bamako and Maputo. It is lacking in Johannesburg.

The minister said in his keynote address, “We use arts to contribute to the upliftment of our economy.” When the musician takes responsibility for his / her finances in a transparent and accountable way, government will take note and do the same. This will change the terrible top down abuse. The system will be overturned by transparency and accountability. All claims of authenticity and rights to presentation will revert to natural people. We will present ourselves...

SABC, host of the conference. Tian Malan of SABC addressed the opening. He said, “M1 studio was recently revamped and digitized. The SABC is somehow a family business. That says a lot about the SABC, it is a good place to work. The sound is incredible due to the woodwork and the acoustics. Our main objective is to bring the South African story to South Africans. We need to work together in developing the industry further. A lot of youngsters can find an occupation for themselves through music.”



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