Building networks for African Classicism

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Timeless classicism in the telling of African experiences is going through a phase of morphing into a new genre of work. There are great minds ticking away, searching for opportunities to put ideas into practice, but many of these thinkers are biding their time, waiting for spaces to emerge into, so the creative energy can be unleashed and shared. What is needed is more of a network for these minds to support each other in moving things forward.

At a symposium for African composers, it was suggested that the art music sector could learn from the developments in the world of literature. There is no doubt that the authors are getting works published, as I discovered when I was a member of a book club that focused on mainly contemporary African literary works. If only the journey for musicians could be as clearly defined as it is for writers.

Most of the novels we read were published by companies outside of Africa. The writers who managed to make an impact were generally supported by networks from different continents as well. There are so many artists and too few producers or impresarios of African heritage who are willing to take on the range of creativity available, to link it up with the natural audience of Africans who live all over the world nowadays.

The canon of work created by the artists who emerged in the post independence era for most African nations has been treated with too much reverence by the generations who followed. Is this possibly connected to a similar lack of momentum and mobility in the fields of African politics and governance?

Musicians working in the African art music genre definitely have higher mountains to climb than our contemporaries in other genres. On the other hand it is possible that we have more scope to express our pure visions, partially because we are working on a relatively small scale compared to the others at present.