The marginalization of an indigenous master musician-teacher: Evalisto Muyinda—1939–1993
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Marginalizing indigenous experts was common practice during the colonial period in Uganda, and it has continued to some extent today. This study was an attempt to reclaim the indigenous history unmentioned by many Western scholars who were quick to glean a vast amount of indigenous knowledge, yet failed to recognize or credit the intellectual expertise and contributions of indigenous experts. The purpose of this study was to investigate the marginalization of an indigenous master-musician teacher as seen through the life experiences and career of Evalisto Muyinda (1916-1993). With a musical career that spanned over fifty years, Mr. Muyinda served as a leading teacher and performer of indigenous Ganda music in various institutions. Muyinda's contributions to the field of indigenous (Ganda) music teaching are many, yet his expertise and contributions to music education have not been fully explored. He served as a court musician in Kabaka Muteesa II’s palace from 1939 to 1966; he was chief musician at the Uganda Museum from 1948 to 1984; and he was a lead musician and innovator in Uganda's national cultural troupe (the Heart Beat of Africa) from 1963 to 1981. Mr. Muyinda's legacy continues to exist through the scholarly work of various music educators, ethnomusicologists and indigenous performers of Ganda music, who all credit their learning to this expert musician. World music scholars such as Klaus Wachsmann, Lois Anderson, Gerhard Kubik, and Peter Cooke all studied and researched indigenous Ganda music under Muyinda’s guidance and tutelage. In this study I examined Muyinda’s contributions to music education as a teacher and performer of indigenous (Ganda) music in twentieth century Uganda (1939-1993). Mr. Muyinda was a well-known resource for hundreds of indigenous Ganda folksongs that he used in teaching the akadinda and amadinda (xylophone) traditions to both local and foreign students. As a master musician-teacher, Muyinda also performed and taught indigenous music in several places in and outside Uganda. During Muyinda’s career and travels his music was recorded and archived in British and Viennese archival libraries, making these materials a useful resource for music educators and ethnomusicologists. The methodology employed in gathering data for this study included personal interviews with people who interacted with Evalisto Muyinda during his life time. Archived printed materials were carefully examined and used to construct a sequence of significant events as they unfolded in Muyinda's life experiences and career. Although Muyinda was not an expert musician in the Western formal sense, his expertise in indigenous music enabled him to serve as an accomplished teacher and research associate to the many Western scholars who worked with him. Since the marginalization of an indigenous master-musician teacher is the central focus of this study, Afrocentricity was used as the most suitable theoretical framework to discuss an African subject and the historical discourse involved. The current study would be of interest to music practitioners, researchers and historians with an interest in the indigenous music and music education of Uganda and other countries with a similar history.
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