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The Role of Music and Musicians in Promoting Social Stability in the Country

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Abstract

Some of the prerequisites for promoting social stability in a country include, adequate security, socio-cultural and economic viability, political freedom, freedom of expression and association etc., On the other hand, a nation that lacks all these qualities is wrecked morally, socially, culturally and above all, most vulnerable to treason. In such instance, and obviously too, the portrayal of false identity, lawlessness, insubordination and the likes infiltrate or bedevil such a nation.. This paper critically examined the role music and musicians play in achieving stability in the country.
UJAH UNIZIK Journal of Arts and Humanities
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THE ROLE OF MUSIC AND MUSICIANS IN
PROMOTING SOCIAL STABILITY IN THE
COUNTRY
Eunice U. Ibekwe
Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, Nigeria
*http://dx.doi.org/10.4314/ujah.v14i3.10
Abstract
Some of the prerequisites for promoting social stability in a
country include, adequate security, socio-cultural and
economic viability, political freedom, freedom of expression
and association etc., On the other hand, a nation that lacks all
these qualities is wrecked morally, socially, culturally and
above all, most vulnerable to treason. In such instance, and
obviously too, the portrayal of false identity, lawlessness,
insubordination and the likes infiltrate or bedevil such a
nation.. This paper critically examined the role music and
musicians play in achieving stability in the country.
Introduction
In recent times people are passing through series of
difficulties due to the problem of insecurity and social
instability. In some parts of the country, people are perishing
as a result of hunger, while others are faced with uncertainty of
life, threat of wars, religious crises and its consequent Boko-
Haram issue, kidnapping, civil unrest, segregation,
malnutrition, diseases, abduction and other numerous
disheartening situations. This period, in a nutshell, is not
different from the pre-colonial and colonial periods when
people were sold into slavery, when poverty was seen as a
curse and when all sorts of inhuman practices were given a
boost by the powers that be, such as the local chiefs, the Obas,
the Emirs and other wealthy tyrants of the time. The only
The Role of Music and Musicians in Promoting Social Stability in the Country - Eunice U.
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difference between those periods and now is the absence of
that monstrous appellation –‘slavery’, but ironically, the effect
(of slavery) still remains, and if it is allowed to continue, one
wonders what the next generation would turn out to be.
Therefore in the face of all these vices bedeviling the country
which have given rise to its present state of insecurity and
instability, musicians and music have a holistic role to play.
And this is the focus of the paper.
Concepts of Music and Musician
In this context, it is not out of place to discuss in general terms
the concepts of music and musicians as they constitute the
major framework of this essay. Many a time, people appreciate
music just for what they think it is (–entertainment medium)
and musicians for what they think they are (–entertainers). As
a result they fail to comprehend the vital role music and
musicians play in the proper functioning of events in human
existence and thereby accord them little or no serious
reputation in society. Music is more than ordinary
entertainment phenomenon, according to Umezinwa (128) “to
the owners and practitioners, it is a force, a living force that
yields to various forms of meanings and interpretations. It is
just not one thing but many things reviewed from a prism,
which unifies all”. Therefore, from these various forms of
meanings and interpretations, one can rightly describe music
as, a moral censor, a mobilizer, an educator, promoter of
social and cultural values etc. As a moral censor and an
educator for example, the following song on marriage issue
educates parents on the need to allow their daughters make
choice of marriage by themselves and condemns parents
having upper hand or contracting marriage that is likely to
cause disharmony and instability between the couple.
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Marriage folk
Nna mo, ina-eduzim na-eje n’ajo di? - My father, are you
forcing me to marry a bad husband?
Nne mo, ina-eduzim na-eje n’ajo di?- My mother, are you
forcing me to marry a bad husband?
Onye unu choro , a choghim ya -The person you desire, I
don’t want him
Onye ahu unu na- choghi yanwa bu obi mo-The one you do
not want is my choice
Anyi g’ebi n’udo- We shall live in peace
Anyi g’ebi n’ihunanya- We shall live in love
Chineke nyere anyi aka- God help us
Chineke gozienu anyi - God bless us
Olisebr’uwa biko jikota anyi onu- Almighty God please unite
together
Ife anyi cholu bu k’anyi bili n’udo- What we want is to live
in peace
Ajo di ajoka Chineke biko Bad husband is too horrible, God
please.
Most parents are responsible for their children’s marital
problems due to their selfish ambition, either to cement an
already existing relationship or for material gain at the expense
of their children’s comfort. The above song is a lesson which if
put into consideration during marriage contract, will help
reduce crimes and stresses associated with unhealthy union.
In the same instance, “A musician is a person who … ‘is
involved in the art of’ music making and above all takes it as a
career”. (Ibekwe,:35a) Based on this definition, various
components of musicians emerge such as a composer, a vocal
or instrumental performer, a conductor or director of choral
/orchestral music, an arranger, a dancer and so on. Even
musicologists who study the rudiments, theory and history of
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music in both traditional and western forms are also called
musicians. (Ibekwe,35) The New International Webster’s
Comprehensive Dictionary of the English Language (838)
defines a musician as “one skilled in music; especially, a
professional performer”. For the purpose of this discussion,
Okafor, (6) provides a workable definition of a musician that
places him/her above a mere entertainer, thus,
The musician has a role as a keeper of public
conscience and as a man who has his hands on
the social control lever. He guides the society;
drawing, of course, from the collective wisdom
and pool of knowledge and proverbs of his
people. He foresees events like any poet, for a
poet can point the way to come, even though
the people following may not see it for the time
being.
Musicians achieve all these through their music. Okafor, (7)
goes further to say that, “many of our social comments, moral
codes and guides are couched in music and songs” by these
musicians. Take for instance, a mother who is instructing her
child on the tenets of the community finds the product of
musicians useful, so that the child grows up a responsible
person devoid of social misfit. She renders the following song.
Cradle Song
Kelee onye muru gi Greet your parents
Kelee onye muru gi Greet your parents
Kelee onye toro gi Greet your elder
Nne gi gwa gi nuru Hear (obey) the instructions of
your mother
Nna gi gwa gi nuru Hear the instructions of your
father
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Tupu onye ozo Before heeding to those of
another’s
Ma gbaa mbo ruwere
Onye toro gi isi And persevere to respect your elders
(Adapted from Okafor, 2005:55)
If the child obeys the mother’s instruction, he /she will become
a responsible person in future and would not bring stress to his
/ her parents and the society at large. Music (especially
African) by its nature and purpose is a compendium of
people’s way of life. In other words, it represents people’s
tradition and no amount of stereotype conception can
undermine its importance in any society. According to
Ibekwe, (36)
musicians have designated duties which are
embroiled in the power of their music to entertain,
educate, socialize, symbolize, mobilize, motivate,
sanitize, soothe, heal, exorcize, criticize and
acculturate…Africans attach great values to cultural
demeanors such as expressive power of song texts,
symbolic and aesthetic disposition of costumes and
endearing messages of body movements… (that)
make culture statements any time music ‘is
performing. (Therefore), a musician is expected to
follow or observe the standard laid down within the
culture he is operating.
Obviously, the amount of recognition a musician receives in
any society depends significantly on the effectiveness of his
music in conveying the required message, which is based on
the communities’ understanding of the concept. Nzewi, (102)
opinionates that, “the misunderstanding of …(the) nature and
logic (of African music) has given rise to a lot of misinformed
and speculative theories about African’s musical intellection”,
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for that reason, musicians should take into consideration the
people’s expectations of them and avoid misrepresentations.
The Concept of Insecurity / Social Instability;
Insecurity according to The New International Webster’s
Comprehensive Dictionary of the English Language,(655)
implies “the condition of being unsafe; liability to injury, loss
or failure; uncertainty; instability”... From the above definition,
insecurity appears to be synonymous with instability. On the
other hand, social security from the same source means “any
public system which provides welfare services for members of
the community in need.(for instance)… A Federal program of
old-age and unemployment insurance, public assistance to the
blind, disabled, and dependent, and maternal and child welfare
services administered by the social security administration”
(1192). Given the above submission, one can then establish
that social stability implies the provision of social services for
the welfare of the citizenry, and that social instability
obviously implies lack of social services which make people’s
lives unbearable, unsafe, and unstable. Therefore, being
exposed to the consequences of insecurity and or social
instability, it becomes clear what would be the situation of a
country besieged with such vices. Musicians such as Celestine
Ukwu of the blessed memory pictured this situation of
instability and uncertainty through the following song, and
revealed that no matter ones position in life one is still
confronted by uncertainty of life. This is an advice for people
to do things with moderation because no one knows tomorrow.
TOMORROW IS UNCERTAIN
Trust no future however pleasant it may seem
Trust no future however pleasant it may be
For what tomorrow has in store is so uncertain
Ride on with whatever you have in life
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For like Peter never go
Some pride (themselves) with what they have in mind
Some think that without them (there’s) nothing like this world
But the big question is;
Who had ever died and the world came to a standstill?
In this our funny world
There is so great rat-race to grab the world riches
Yet no one feels satisfied with whatever he or she has in life
Many are trampled
Many fall by the way side
But, hei! Stop and think
That when you are dead the world continues
The world continues without you
No matter your pride or position …
(Philips 6361 048 (PL) 1973, in Okafor, et al 1999;82 )
In a similar development, he encouraged people never to be
despaired or discouraged no matter how bad the situation is.
This is captured in his song titled, OKWUKWE NA
NCHEKWUBE (Faith and Hope)
Ife nwelu mbido ga enwelili njedebe
Whatever has a beginning must have an end
O na-abu ife na-eme o dika o ma ebezi
When a thing happens it seems it will never come to an end
Ife melu anyi, k’anyi lunyelu Olisa
When we are in good times, let us pay tribute to God
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Ife mee anyi, k’anyi chekwube Olisa
When we are in hard times, let us hope in God
K’anyi ghalu nkolopu
Let us not despair
K’anyi welu okwukwe na nchekwube, ghalu nkolopu
Let us have faith and hope and forego despair
Welu okwukwe na nchekwbe
Have faith and hope
O na-abu ife na-eme ufodu e ekolopu
When some conditions prevail some people despair
O na-abu ife dado ndi ufodu fa e ekolopu
When temptations come some people despair
Anyi adi elota n’ife obuna nwelu mbido ga enwelili njedebe
We do not remember that whatever has a beginning must have
an end
Ife obuna a dado n’anyi k’anyi welu okwukwe na nchekwube
Whatever befalls us, let us have faith and hope
Okwukwe na nchekwube ga azo anyi
Faith and hope will save us
Maka n‘ife obuna e enwena mbido ga enwelili njedebe
Because whatever has a beginning must have an end
(Okafor et al, 1999; 12)
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With the above instructions, one is therefore well informed on
the challenges of life, and is also encouraged with the hope
that one day or some time things may change or become better.
The Role of Music and Musicians in the Promotion of
Social Stability
Good music promotes social stability, patriotism and gives
good image to a nation. Many musicians and even individuals
are concerned about making the country a better place. The
issue and timely nature of the “rebranding process” initiated or
launched on February 9, 2009 by the former Minister of
Information and Culture, Professor Dora Akunyili, with the
slogan, “Nigeria: Good People, Great Nation”, is an attempt to
create a better image for the country. This clarion call had
earlier been given a boost by such musician as Nelly Uchendu
in her songs,
(1) BE A TRUE NIGERIAN
Be a true Nigerian today
If we love our Country
We will make a greater progress
All those things we talk about
Will one day be forgotten
Only you can make a great Nigeria
Come let us make a great Nigeria
Sacrifice to build a great Nigeria (Nelly Uchendu, 1986)
(2) MAKE A NEW NIGERIA
Be a true Nigerian, do everything right
Always be patriotic
You will see you too can make Nigeria great
Don’t be avaricious, don’t ever mislead
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We must contribute now for the growth of our country
With good sanitation and excellent behavior
Let us be proud now to make Nigeria great (Nelly Uchendu,
1986) ( in Okafor ,2005;11-12)
These songs are calls for the people of Nigeria to be good
people, be law abiding, and do what is right so that the country
will be a better place for her citizenry. A musician is regarded
as a ‘watch-dog’ to the happenings in his society. “A watch-
dog refers to one that guard against loss, waste, theft or
undesirable practices”. (Oguno, 157a) Music offers a perfect
medium through which messages are communicated; even a
message that is considered implicating, dangerous, hurting or
abusive is conveyed through music without minding the
consequences and provided it is aimed at bettering the
condition of the oppressed. An example is captured in the song
of Dan Maraya of Jos, rendered in Hausa Language. BABBAN
MUTUM (HAUSA)
Mai Arzik, Great man
Kana taka Mota Mai-isada You ride an expensive
car
Ga ta da Na-u’ ran Sanyi It is air-conditioned
Ga ta muma da Rediyo It has radio
Kana ganin Talaka shi ba komai bane You despise the poor
man
Kana tsammanin shi ba kowa bane You think he is
nothing
Amma ka tuna fa But remember this
Ida Motar taka, ta kafe chikin lata When your car stuck in
the mud
Shi dai wanna ta-lakan zaka You will look for the
poor
Nemo ya fitceta man to push it out
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Mai Dukiyan Great man
Kana zaune chikin Babban Gidan ka You live in your big
house
Ga ta da Na-u’ ran Sanyi It is air-conditioned
Ga manyan kujeru You have big beds
Ga bubban Madafi You have a big kitchen
Ga Kuma Babban Zaure You have a big parlour
Kana ganin Talaka shi ba komai bane You despise the poor
man
Baka taimakon sad a komai You will give him
nothing
Amma ka tuna fa But remember this
Shi dai Wannan Talakan It is the poor man
Da ba shi da komi The lowly man of no
means
Shi ya dauki kasan Who carried the sand
Da Ruwan And carried the water
Da kuma sauran kayan And carried the loads
Da aka gina Gidan kan da shi For the building of your
house
(Dan Maraya Jos in Okafor 2005; 365-366)
Musicians utilize music medium in no small measure to send
messages across. According to Okafor, (10) a musician
“shares a role of keeping a watchful eye on the goings-on in
the society. He is therefore, a social critic and guides his
people according to the prevailing norms. He foresees and he
reflects. He has his hands on the social control lever”. What it
implies is that musicians are the society’s spokes-men, the
defender of the defenseless and pointers to social order. In
Veno Marioghae’s appeal for a positive change, she sent
messages across in one of her Hits - NIGERIA GO SURVIVE
If they tief our oil-o
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Even if they burn de oil-o
I say if they drain de oil-o
No matter how they try-o
Our roots dem strong for ground-o
Ancestors no go gree-o
The god of thunder and lightening
United should Nigeria
Refrain: Nigeria go survive
Africa go survive
My people go survive
Nigeria go survive
Andrew no check out-o
Stay and build your country
Na who go die for you-o
Blood is thicker than water
If Andrew do him work –o
And me Ido my own-o
If our leaders do dem best
Andrew go stay to help-o
Cocoa dey for West-o
Rubber bokwu for Bendel
Palm-oil e dey for East-o
Timber e dey for Benue-o
Hide and skin e dey-o
Cotton dey for North-o
(in Okafor, 2005:370)
Music provides avenues for correcting social disorder either by
criticizing the constituted authority or a political power.
Okafor, (10) clearly observes that,
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we have some musicians who got into trouble
not only by attacking even the military but also
by not respecting a political party in power
which does not have a vision of the society as it
should or shall be… whereas the musician may
not sit at the seat of power, he has a say in what
happens there. He has a say in what type of
image those at the seat of power should project’.
Even at community levels, musicians are not always tolerated
because of their out-spoken nature. Generally, music
constitutes nuisance to deviants and law breakers even when
directly or indirectly applied. Nevertheless, all these
affirmations do not imply that musicians do not err, many
musicians are sycophants, but that is not within the scope of
this work. The type of music this paper is concerned with
includes those that are culturally accepted or approved and
those that promote social stability. Those of them that have
little or no message at all to give are also not within the scope
of this discourse no matter which of the groups that are
involved.
Another important role music and musicians perform to
address issue of social instability is the provision of jobs. The
country is flooded with healthy men, women and youths who
are jobless. Oguno, (301b ) decries that, talking of
unemployment in a country like Nigeria where natural
resources abound, looks ridiculous. He describes a situation
where “excess oil accrue… gas is being flared, coal deposit
abound, precious stones like granite abound in commercial
quantity, palm plantation that was a major source of
government income in years preceding independence have
virtually been abandoned…Industries are not created and idle
youths roam about the streets creating insecurity everywhere”
as unfortunate. The greater percentage of crimes that ravage
The Role of Music and Musicians in Promoting Social Stability in the Country - Eunice U.
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172
this country comes from these idle and restive citizens who
would have been more productive if they were adequately
engaged. In this direction, music and musicians have provided
a very big relief and succor to many who engage themselves in
one aspect of music business or the other for their livelihood.
Many young boys and girls have become amateur musicians
just to make both ends meet; some are involved in the sale of
musical works. Even many of the school leavers have taken
to dancing as market or business promoters instead of staying
idle and causing trouble in society.
Conclusion:
Nigeria is a nation beset with a lot of problems which social
instability/ insecurity is part of. These problems can only be
eradicated if people are ready to shun self aggrandizement, and
all the principle actors in the nation’s struggle for better
Nigeria project give a befitting image for the country.
Musicians should point the way forward, and should not be
busy fattening their pockets through praise singing, or
presenting music that is counter-productive, a music that
portrays the country in a negative image, instead they should
use good music or jingles to enlighten the masses and even
help the government to curb insecurity through songs and
jingles that condemn deviant behaviours such as drug
trafficking, fraud, and other related crimes and hence promote
stability.
Works Cited
Ibekwe, E.U. “Performing Arts and Nation Building- The Role
of Music”. Interlink: A Journal of Research in Music.
Chukwuemeka C. Mbanugo (Ed) Awka: Abimac
Publishers. 4, 2009: 11-19.
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Ibekwe, E.U. “Musicians and the Philosophical Dimension of
African Man”. Awka Journal of Research in Music and
the Arts. (AJRMA)) Nnamdi Azikiwe University,
Awka. 7, 2010a: 33-45.
Ibekwe, E.U. “Music, Language and the Universal implication
of Meaning”. JANIM :Journal of the Association of
Nigerian Musicologists, 4, 2010b: 66-73.
Nzewi, Meki. Musical Practice and Creativity. An African
Traditional Perspective. Bayreuth: Iwalewa-Haus,
University of Bayreut. 1991.
Oguno, N.C. “The Musician as a watch dog in a democracy:
Echoes from songs of Patty Obasi and Ozoemena
Nsugbe”. Awka Journal of Research in Music and the
Arts. (AJRMA)) Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka. 7,
2010a: 154-160.
Oguno, N.C. “The Nexus between Good Governance and
Musical Arts”. The Humanities & Good Governance .
A.B.C Chiegboka, T.C. Utoh-Ezeajugh , E.U. Ibekwe,
C.C. Nwosu, N. C Oguno, and K.L. Nwadialor (Eds) .
Nimo: Rex Charles and Partrick Ltd. 2012b.
Okafor, R.C. Music in Nigerian Society. Enugu: New
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Okafor, R.C., Nwokike, F., Eziechi, C., Egudu, J. The Life and
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The New International Webster’s Comprehensive Dictionary
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Umezinwa, E.C. “Igbo music, freedom and philosophy”
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The Agidigbo is a major melo-rhythmic instrument of the Apala music, used by Yoruba musicians to achieve speech surrogate due to the tonal inflection of the Yoruba language. While it is somewhat easier in Yoruba vocal music to employ the three phonemic tones-low, mid and high for word intelligibility, the musicians must however adapt these tones in playing the melo-rhythmic instruments for adequate communication. This is because among Africans, there is often a tonal communication relished between the musicians and the listeners. While literature abounds on tonal communication in Yoruba music, with overt concentration on the 'talking drums', there is paucity of academic research on the tonal communication of the Agidigbo. This study thus examines the communicative attributes of the Agidigbo, with musical and contextual analysis of its decoded communications. Oral interviews and bibliographical evidences were used to elicit information. Content analysis was used to process the musical and tonal data generated in the Agidigbo music. This study establishes that although Yoruba musicians are entertainers, they are also regarded as custodians of moral law and habitually encode messages in their music, with its decoding entrusted to their enlightened faithfuls. This is evident in the Agidigbo, an instrument particularly used by the Yoruba people for musical, socio-cultural and linguistic communication. Significantly, this study aids the understanding and decoding of this indigenous instrumental heritage. This paper thus argues for more musicological research on this communicative instrument towards its globalization and conservation.
... Vidal opines that "musical expressions in Nigeria reflects the various characteristics of the cultures and traditions of its… [various] linguistic groups" (2012a: 12). Ibekwe (2013), Idolor (2015a) and Odoemelam et al (2015) also buttressed the functional role of music and the musicians in preserving the history of a society. While music among the African serve a common socio-cultural function, the characteristics of the music of each society however differ in terms of language, musical structure, instrument, and stylistic practice, thus marking the different musical and cultural identity of the people. ...
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Abstract The role of music and musical arts education in African society traverse both socio-cultural and didactic functions; serving as social interaction, economic empowerment, political commentary, cultural indicator, historical preservation and educational tool. In Nigeria, while music function in the context of the people’s sacred beliefs and secular lives, nevertheless it aids in preserving their history because it inculcates moral values and transmits cultural knowledge from one generation to another. Consequently, due to the rapid modernization of musical arts in African through appropriation of foreign musical and cultural factors, more of traditional African musical and cultural histories are being eroded and going into oblivion. To this effect, this paper examines the functional role of popular music in the historical preservation of the Yoruba people’s musical and cultural heritage. Employing oral interviews, musical recordings and bibliographical evidences for its methodology, the research traces the emergence of Juju from indigenous music of the Yoruba and neighboring West African sub-group through its three developmental stages. The study addresses the genre’s musical and cultural values in preserving Yoruba history and the contributions of Juju exponents, particularly Ebenezer Obey, to the musical, educational, political, religious and moral preservation of Yoruba culture. It also establishes that although Juju music and musicians entertain the people, nonetheless, because of their importance in the society, they equally assume the role of traditional educators and historians. Hence, Yoruba popular music and their musicians are viewed as custodians of culture and agents of historical preservation. Keywords: Ebenezer Obey, Historical preservation, Juju music, Popular music, Socio-cultural
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This paper reviews recent studies that examine how music has been used for electioneering in in the 2016 general elections in Zambia. After a survey of several papers addressing music and elections in contemporary Zambia, a total of three papers specific to the 2016 elections are examined, these are: “Music and its Role in the Electoral Process of Zambia” by Namuyamba et al (2018); “The Discursive Role of Music in African Elections: A Perspective from Zambia” by Mambwe (2019); and “Singing Dununa Reverse: Interrogating the Symbolic, Political, Cultural and Patriotic Perspectives in a Zambian Political Campaign Song” by Lumbwe (2017). From the three papers examined, there is an acknowledgement of the power that music has in communicating key messages in elections. Music has become an important element Zambian electioneering as parties have recognized how effective they can reach masses. Further, in the electioneering context, music can be used and examined differently. The papers analyzed demonstrate that there exists latitude in what music can achieve for political communication.
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