Research Article

The role of music and language in reflecting beliefs in fertility and marriage

Published in: South African Journal of African Languages
Volume 40, issue 2, 2020 , pages: 171–178
DOI: 10.1080/02572117.2020.1804219
Author(s): Phalandwa Abraham Mulaudzi, South Africa

Abstract

Music, like language, can be used to transmit beliefs, values and worldviews. Since indigenous music, like any piece of art, is not composed in a vacuum, it reflects the moral and social values through which it is conceived. One of the areas in which it plays an important role is marriage. Traditional marriage unifies families in communities, its primary function being to produce children as new members of the community. In fulfilling this aim, culture, including music, has a significant part to play in encouraging marriages between members of communities. This article interrogates African cultural values and norms as presented in two songs, namely Tlhatswa lesire (‘Wash your wedding gown’) by Culture Spear and U swi tiva kanjani? (‘How do you know?’) by General Muzka. In Tlhatswa lesire, the lead vocalist uses this idiomatic expression to put forward a request by members of the community ‘to bear a child for the family’. In the track U swi tiva kanjani?, General Muzka uses the noun ripfani ‘chameleon’ because the wife does not want to accept that she is sterile. Infertility or the failure to bear a child constitutes not only a personal crisis for a woman, but a tragedy, as she is made to feel that she has disappointed her entire community. Her sense of failure is aptly expressed through the medium of song.

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