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Radio Afrika

Rep Your Set

SinceĀ I was young, it has been hammered into my brain to never forget your roots. You can’t just deny where you came from. Ignoring your origins is like an insult to your whole family, which is why such large emphasis is placed on knowing the traditions of your ancestors; especially when you are living in a country different from previous generations. This adherence tradition can be seen most evidently through the musical habits across Africa throughout time. Even with the numerous musical influences that have penetrated the African continent, African musicians have continued to create their own unique sounds while sticking to their roots. Afrobeat, Mbalax, Desert Blues, and Kuduro are just some genres from various countries which display the musical ingenuity when adapting the instruments and methods of the past to tell modern stories in a way that gives credit to their origins and present influences.

The mbira- a thumb piano originating in Zimbabwe- is passed down each generation in a family and is used for many purposes, most prominently celebrations and to communicate with generations past. It is said that it is the spirits of your ancestors that allows you to play the instrument well. It is not the individual’s ability to play well, but their ancestors speaking through them that creates the impressive melodies.

Traditions like that of the mbira are what make the video (below) much more meaningful. As the face of the world is transformed, so is the face of our traditions. They may appear different, but we still respect our roots- just in a different way to fit our expanding influences in a shrinking, connected world.

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