The collaboration between the Ntinga Ntaba kaNdoda Development Centre, the Ethnomusicology division in the Department of Music at Rhodes University on conducting research on the music heritage of the Keiskammahoek district in the Eastern Cape started in 2011 when Rhodes University was approached by the Ntinga Ntaba kaNdoda Development Centre to support them with the annual Heritage Festival held in the Amathole District. There was not much to present and we realized that the first step towards collaboration would be to conduct research in the area. Through research and retrieving as much as possible the initiative was started to address the decline and loss of traditional musical practices that the residents in Keiskammahoek were experiencing, and to revive an interest in these traditions.

The aims of the initiative are to assist with the Heritage Festival held annually if funds are procured, as well as to conduct research, revive, and promote the musical heritage of the Keiskammahoek. Presently all the data is being stored at the International Library of African Music (ILAM). Long term goals are to archive the data, establish a satellite archive in the area, and to consolidate the holdings for the purpose of social and economic development in as far as the holdings should generate an income from downloads and the promotion of tourism in the area.

The Rhodes University team works closely with the Ntinga Ntaba kaNdoda fieldworkers during the fieldtrips. Workshops on various research skills and meetings to assess our progress are held regularly. As the recording of interviews and cultural performances forms the core of the research trips, basic knowledge on these skills is essential in rendering the time and money for these research trips well spent and Rhodes University students had a workshop on audio and video recording techniques to promote excellent fieldwork techniques.

The research team records performances of amaXhosa traditions as performed by residents of the villages. It is an aim of the initiative to make these recordings available to researchers and interested members of the public from across the globe. A further aim is for these recordings to be made available to the community members of Keiskammahoek as well as members of a wider public through the use of mobile phone technology and an internet site that has been taking shape in recent months. To promote the cultural heritage of Keiskammahoek, the project aims to support musical collaborations between local musicians and students and staff members from Rhodes University.

Applications for funding are ongoing and mostly unsuccessful. The project received an amount of R250 000 (minus service charges which reduced it by R25 000) in 2012. This project uses most of its funds to pay for transport, subsistence, accommodation, and fees for local fieldworkers.  The project is quite expensive but it is an investment in developing students as potential scholars and practitioners who have an interest in social, economic and cultural development, and it is an investment in strengthening the relationship between the academy and the community we are meant to serve.

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