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Botswana - On entry to Form One at Rainbow High School in Botswana students are exposed to basic Elements of Music and recorders.  In Form Two they then embark on Research and Presentation in music.  Here they are exposed to different cultures and styles of music and the historical backgrounds.  At the end of Form Two they are expected to have researched on one of these aspects and choreograph it to match the setting.  The course tutor is Ms. Irene Soko with Mr. Hollis Clifton as facilitator/consultant.

The students are from diverse backgrounds which include Eslam Elbaroudy (Egypt), Sibogile Phiri (Zambia), Connie Makokha (Kenya), Robin Eddie (South Africa) and Yihi Liu (China).

In their final assessment the group of students traced the origins of the steelpan in the African diaspora of Trinidad and Tobago to universal acclaim.

The presentation was done in three segments.  In her introduction Yihi, the narrator, reiterated that today the steelpan has emerged as the only new musical instrument invented in the 20th century.  The African drum was the original instrument which provided accompaniment for the Ceremonial Street Processions of Camboulay which eventually evolved into carnival as we know it today.  The students then played a variety of African drums.

In the second segment, Yihi explained, that the skin (Congo) drums were outlawed (in 1883) by the colonial authorities. The inventiveness of the freed African slaves turned to Tamboo Bamboo drums which were carved from bamboo trees which were indigenous to, and widespread in the islands. This ensured that there was music to accompany the revelers during the carnival celebrations. The students then did a drumology utilizing the Tamboo Bamboo drums.

In the final segment the narrator explained that during the war (1939-45) carnival was banned but experimentation with garbage bins continued, transforming them into musical instruments with notes.  Then, since Trinidad was fortunate to have crude oil at the core of its economy, empty oil drums were readily available which meant that those too came under the hammer.  This determination to create saw the birth of the steelband.  The students then took to the stage to play the steelpans.

Hollis Clifton
Africa Correspondent
photos by H. Clifton



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