Songs worth singing - forever

27 August 2007

The project is called Songs Worth Singing, Words Worth Saying, and it certainly lived up to its name.

When 80-year-old Ouma Grietjie Adams took the stage during a recent public seminar at the South Africa College of Music, the audience applauded - probably because her lyrics were worth it.

The project, hosted by the Institute for Justice and Reconciliation, is part of the memory, arts and culture project funded by the Department of Arts and Culture. In nutshell, it preserves musical traditions that foster reconciliation.

Adams, of Garies in the Northern Cape, received this year's Reconciliation Award from the department for singing and telling indigenous stories.

Valdi van Reenen-Le Roux, chairperson of the project, said they were collecting songs that are in danger of being forgotten; like those about sport, protest, goema and the Cape Malays. They will look at ways to preserve these songs and even teach them to school children.

"The curriculum has changed," she said. "The new curriculum comes with responsibilities to place fresh material that speaks to human rights."

After the project was presented, there was a panel discussion to look at what should be included in the new curriculum.

Van Reenen-Le Roux said musicians needed such dialogue.

"We moan and groan about issues around copyright, but we don't talk."

In the pipeline is a publication of the lyrics and music of cultural and political songs gathered in Cape Town and the surrounds, together with suggestions for teaching aids in an educational setting.

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