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MIT African Music and Dance Ensemble
James Makubuya, Director

A Program of Instrumental Music,
Song, and Dance from Kenya, Uganda
and South Africa

8 pm Thursday, May 8, 1997
Kresge Auditorium, MIT
Free Admission

The Indigenous Music of Africa

Africa, south of the Sahara is inhabited by hundreds of different ethnic groups, each with a musical tradition of its own. Sub-Saharan Africa boasts of a diverse and rich traditional music heritage that has for centuries been orally transmitted from generation to generation. Despite external influences, the majority of these ethnic groups continue to value and practice their respective traditional musical styles which in turn have and continue to establish strong musical and cultural identities.

In tonight's concert event, the MIT African Performing Ensemble (MITCAN) in its second semester of existence at MIT can only share fragments of this rich cultural music heritage that range from song, dance and instrumental music from three broad areas of East and South Africa - specifically: Kenya, Uganda, and South Africa.

Instruments used in tonight's Concert:

adungu ( 9-string bow harp) - said to have originated among the Alur (people) of the northwestern region of Uganda but has recently been adopted and adapted by many other ethnic groups in other parts of Africa.

akirbu (rhythm bell) used by many ethnic groups is sub-Saharan for signalling and time keeping.

akogo (thumb piano) - getting its descriptive name from the way it is played, the akogo belongs to Atesot (people) of northeastern Uganda.

awal (gourd crackers) - a rhythm instrument that belongs to the Acholi (people) found in the north central region of Uganda.

madinda (log xylophone) a 12 slab log xylophone that belongs to the Baganda (people) found in the south central region of Uganda. In tonight's recital, the madinda will be played using ssekinnoomu style (different from the madinda or kadinda styles).

mbuutu & mpuunyi (conical drum 1) the deeper sounding drum used for cueing as well as accompaniment in dances.

nankasa (signal drum) a smallest used for rhythm keeping especially in dancing.

ndingidi (tube fiddle) - a single string fiddle that belongs to the Baganda. It is one of the several different types of fiddles found in use by different ethnic groups in Uganda.

ndege (ankle bells) metal bells tied on the ankles of men and women dancers to replicate and exaggerate the steps while dancing.

ndongo (8-string bowl lyre) one of the three main string instruments of the Baganda. It is one version of the several different types of instruments classified as lyres found widely used by various East African musical traditions.

Concert Program

1. Lug'mada dance {market dance - Lugbara)This processional dance was traditionally performed at the beginning of the bi-monthly market days. Performed by able-bodied men and women, the Lugbara people perform it to ask their gods to give them a successful market day.

2. Larakaraka rhythms {village drum ensemble -Luo}
In many parts of sub-Saharan Africa, it's common for villagers to get together, and often too, to provide themselves with their own recreation. The rhythms replicated in this rendition belong to the Luo groups some of whom live in Kenya and others in Uganda.

3. Mia din {adungu solo - Alur}
In the style of the Alur people, Esteban performs an instrumental solo on the adungu. The lyrics of the Alur tune when translated mean: "If you ever go to the forest alone, keep a heavy club handy for protection."

4. Myal bel din {adungu ensemble - Alur} Among the Alur, the adungu is used for playing dance music as well as well as other communal functions like exhorting people to be good citizens. The lyrics of the tune played by this ensemble of adungu players literary means, "Let's work out our misunderstandings peacefully and eventually agree like theadungu strings.




5. Wummula {ndingidi duet -Buganda} Literally meaning "Don't get stressed out, take a break" Joel and Chris play this well known traditional tune on the ndingidi in Ganda style.




6. Enyak aud an {akogo solo - Atesot} In the style of the Atesot, the akogoplayer exhorts all the children to help their parents while at work.




7. Gumboot dance {South Africa} The 'gumboot' dance is originally from the mines of South Africa. This energetic and rhythmic dance was danced by miners to mimic the sounds in the mines as they dig for the 'gold'. The dance was also used as a peaceful demonstration of their struggle against the apartheid regime. Now it has become a traditional dance for South Africans.




Brief Intermission


8. Aije dance {Acholi} This harvest dance belongs to the Acholi (people)of northern Uganda. Traditionally, it is performed by women and girls as the men and boys accompany them on drums. The awal (gourd crackers)played by women represent the baskets with which they would reap the bountiful harvest.




9. Byaddawa? {madinda duet - Buganda} In ssekinnoomu style, Patrick and Chris use the improvisation technique treating the traditional tune "Byaddawa?" to various variations on the madinda .




10. Byajjula {ndongo trio - Buganda} This traditional tune is played by Eric, Neala, and Roz in a traditional improvisational style. When articulated, the melody they are playing means: We went to the garden and filled all our baskets with a lot of food; come and have some.




11. Indlamu dance {Zulu, South Africa} This is a celebration dance especially performed during weddings and other traditional gatherings. It is normally performed by both men and women. The dancing techniques includesinging, clapping, and kicking. The song accompanying it during the dance literary means: "Lady, go to the river, and meet your lover. "




12. Driman {adungu duet} Performing the adungu using the Alur technique, Leila and Holly play a melody whose articulated lyrics mean "I love the soothing sound of these strings......."




13. Olukhun dance {Japadhola/Kumam}

This is an entertainment dance of the Japadhola and Kumam people from southeastern Uganda. Traditionally performed by both men and women, they sing as they dance exhorting everybody present to shake their 'flexible' limbs before they get 'stiff'.



Adungu & Dance

Leila Hassan, Esteban Mendoza

Thando MouHana, NomaHlubi Nkejane, Holly Gates

Adungu, Dance & Drumming
Kamel Addo

Madinda, Dance & Drumming
Patrick Chou

Madinda, Ndingidi, Dance, & Drumming
Chris Marx

Ndongo & Dance
Neala Rafizadeh, Roz Takata, Eric Traub

Madinda & Dance
Gcobane Quvile

Akogo & Dance
Andrew Nevins

Ndingidi & Dance
Joel Johnson

Alea Teeters, Zojeila Flores

Dance Instructors:
NomaHlubi Nkejane (for the Zulu dance)
Glarington Gcobane Quvile & Kamel Addo (for the Gumboot dance)
James Makubuya (for the Aije, Olukhun, & Lug'mada

Visit the Mitcans on the web page -

The Mitcan is a Music of Africa Performance ensemble which focuses on the Music and Dance from various African countries: This semester the focus was on Uganda, Kenya and South Africa. This ensemble class offers hands-on practice and performance experience on various traditional African musical instruments from a number of musical traditions. The instruments studied include: ndingidi (single string tube fiddle);adungu (9-string bow harp); ndongo(8-string bowl lyre); akogo (thumbpiano); madinda (log xylophone); ngoma(various drums); awal (gourd crackers); nsaasi (gourd rattles); etc. No previous experience is required to join.

Founded Fall Semester '96 at MIT by James Makubuya Assistant Professor of Music "The MITCAN Is For Those Who Want to Explore the Mystery of the Music Cultures of Sub-Saharan Africa" James Makubuya, 9-12-96


To the MIT Council for the Arts, Music & Theater Arts Concert Office, Bill Fregosi, Student Activities Office, and all those whose different areas of support made this performance possible.

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