In this video, Clemente Abrokwaa, Lecturer in African Studies, explains how music is associated with the African way of life. Rhythm is very important and considered a part of nature. Africans believe that life is a rhythm - a circle that keeps revolving. When that rhythm is impeded, everything else suffers. In Ghanaian culture, music is used to preserve nature as well as to preserve community and bring communities together. Clemente tells the story of his village in Ghana where music was traditionally used to resolve conflict and create peace.
Music is the African Way of Life: Music is an intricate part of the African way of life. Africans create music in a way that moves the listener and creates a sense of unity.
Rhythm: In basic terms, rhythm is simply the timing of the musical sounds and silences. Africans believe that life is a rhythm, a cycle. It is like a circle because it keeps revolving. Everything else suffers when the rhythm is impeded at any point.
Conflict Resolution: The two parties in the conflict will shake hands before they begin to dance. The singer will begin to sing a song to the community about how conflict is not good. The community will then join in with the singer. The songs, dance movements, and rhythms are designed as a way of helping the people unify.
Unity: is the state of being whole or undivided. It can denote a combining of all the parts, elements, and individuals into an effective whole. An antonym of unity, is division. Unity is an ideal state of being for a community, so that individuals can work together in a symbiotic relationship
- In what ways is music involved in your life? How has it impacted you? Are there certain traditions and celebrations that you take part in where music plays a key role?
- How does music unify people? Discuss different genres of music and different traditions.
- In your experience, how does music affect a group of people? How can it resolve conflict?
Discussion topics related to this video
- How is music used as a means of gaining spiritual insight? Explain the situation Clemente Abrokwaa speaks about in the video. What are your thoughts on the use of music to resolve conflict?
- How can music foster unity? Discuss the examples talked about in the video. Share some of your own personal experiences or come up with a situation in which music could help resolve a problem between communities.
- Discuss rhythm in African culture and the situations Clemente Abrokwaa describes that involve rhythm. Do you think the concept of rhythm to resolve conflict would be applicable in cultures other than Ghana?
Related Indigenous Knowledge topics for further exploration
- Compare how conflicts were resolved in this video and the situation Mary Marete explains in the Student Perspectives video. How was indigenous knowledge and the traditions of the people used in each of these situations? Could indigenous concepts be applied into other ways to combat interpersonal and community problems?
- Relate this video to the African Cuisine video. How do the videos reflect culture? How are cuisine and music related in different cultural contexts? Each culture has its own way of making food and making music, what role does the physical environment play in each of these activities?
Music is used in various ways: to solve conflict, to unify, and even to heal. This page provides information on how music is being used in hospitals (St. Mary’s in particular) to have a positive effect on one’s health. It is used as a psychological treatment to reduce stress, lower blood pressure, alleviate pain, and address many other health issues. This is knowledge about music that can improve people’s lives.
Medicine and Music [PDF]
This is a paper about how medicine and music are symbiotically connected. It states that in many cultures “music is an integral part of the healing ritual, words and music combing to drive out evil spirits or summon beneficent ones.” This paper is taken from the National Library of Medicine.