Towards indigenizing the music curriculum for multicultural Zimbabwean schools

Full Name: 
Dr Charles Nota

This thesis is the documentation of an investigation to explore the applicability and use of indigenous African instruments in the development of primary school music curriculum for Zimbabwe. Although music is regarded as one of the compulsory subjects of the Zimbabwean primary school curriculum, it is noted with concern that western musical arts ideas are prominent in the school syllabus hence, they underline the whole essence of music teaching in the post-independence Zimbabwean education system. This is done at the expense of indigenous African musical arts practices that learners can easily identify with in their respective local communities.

The purpose of my study therefore, is to determine critical elements of a curriculum development framework for facilitating the inclusion of indigenous African instrumental performance practices as substantive music resource stuff in the westernised Zimbabwean primary school music curriculum provisions. Zimbabwe has a variety of indigenous African instruments that include mbira, mazambi, magagada, chipendani and chigufe. For the purpose of carrying out this research, three indigenous African instruments are identified as instruments of focus.

These are marimba (African xylophone), ngoma (African drum) and hosho (African percussion shakers). Thus, the term indigenous African instruments is consistently used collectively to mean the identified instruments. The study also samples songs from a selected Ndau cultural arts functions such as zvipunha and zvimworoni that could be utilised as education activities for classroom music teaching and learning initiatives in Zimbabwe.

The idea of including culture-inclined resource materials for music teaching in the westernised post-independence Zimbabwean primary school music education initiatives implies curriculum change and innovation. Thus, curriculum change in Zimbabwe could be viewed as a reputable way to fulfil complete socio-cultural, educational and political sovereignty towards diluting the impact of colonial repression and neo-colonialism in Zimbabwe.

It is notable, however that, colonial repression in Africa has caused and is still causing a permanent dislocation between indigenous black Africans and their cultural arts practices and heritages. My study doesn’t aim to achieve piece-meal changes in the primary school curriculum. Neither does it aim to suggest a complete overhaul of the current westernised primary school music curriculum. With this study, I aim to achieve a reasonable inclusivity and fusion of divergent cultural arts opinions towards musical hybridism in the Zimbabwean musical arts education milieu. This, I believe, shall help to establish an alliance of traditional African and western arts elements to attract both domestic and international appreciation of contemporary musical arts education initiatives in the post-independence Zimbabwean society.

Relevant information has been gathered through documentary analysis, interviews, participant observation and focussed discussions. The findings reveal that the majority of primary school teachers and learners need considerable cultural arts rehabilitation because colonial repression had conditioned their perceptions to see no sensible value in indigenous African instrumental performance practices as part of the school education curriculum. The study also reveals that even the training of primary school music educators in Zimbabwe is grossly inadequate.