5 things you did not know about ILAM

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Friday, 24th February 2017

By Khinali Bagwandeen (Grocotts Mail 17/2/2017)

  1. ILAM in Grahamstown stands for the International Library of African Music. The founder of ILAM, Hugh Tracey, was an ethnomusicologist who left England to set up a new life in Zimbabwe where he began studying music. Tracey immersed himself in the language of the Shona people and was introduced to their music. Once he became mindful of the effect that colonialism might have on conserving this music, he believed it was essential to acknowledge its social and artistic worth.
  2. ILAM provides a wide range of opportunities for Ethnomusicology students. The Ethnomusicology section of the Department of Music at Rhodes University has been involved in many different NGO programmes including Ntinga Ntaba kaNdoda. This is a community-based outreach programme that has various levels, one being heritage and culture. Director of ILAM, Dr Lee Watkins, explains the goal of the programme and partnership with Ntinga Ntaba kaNdoda: “The two main aims are to use the results of research done with the community for the benefit of the community itself, and to revive and develop the heritage of the area for the benefit of tourism”.
  3. ILAM is the only institution in the world that publishes a journal focusing on African music annually. The first journal was published in 1954 and has continued since.
  4. The African music library has one of the largest archives in Sub-Saharan Africa and preserves historical recordings going back to the the 1920s. It also has a collection of about 350 priceless indigenous instruments and recordings from Hugh Tracey that date back to the 1950s.
  5. ILAM provides support to upcoming artists. They have studio production services where you can record and produce. There are a handful of artists who have attained success with the help of ILAM, one being Grahamstown local Akhona Mafani, a poet and singer, who has just released an album.


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