Aboxan Musik ǀŌb ǂÂns tsî ǁKhasigu, ancestral musical sound knowledge and skills


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Inscribed in 2020 (15.COM) on the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding

© Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture, Namibia, 2019

Aboxan Musik ǀŌb ǂÂns tsî ǁKhasigu, ancestral musical sound knowledge and skills relates to the specific traditional music of the Nama people, one of Namibia’s tribal minority groups. It involves the use of traditional musical instruments: the khab (musical bow) and !guitsib (traditional guitar), usually played by men or women, and the vlies (harmonica), usually played by women, accompanied by singing, humming and ululating. Nama ancestral music has a specific sound, texture and rhythm, consisting of a leading melody and rhythm by either a musical bow, accordion or guitar, accompanied by a systematic harmony produced by other instruments. As well as the skill of playing the instruments, the musicians also require the knowledge to tune, maintain and fix the instruments. The music is also complemented by dances commonly referred to as ‘Nama≠Nāb’, meaning the dancing steps of the Nama people. The music provides entertainment during key social occasions but, more importantly, it is also used to educate and instruct members of the community, for instance concerning environmental awareness. In the past, the music connected whole communities and villages, but the art currently faces many threats and in recent years only a few elders have practised the tradition and possessed the related knowledge and skills.