MIKE Shino director, International Jazz Day Programme and Outreach sent the following publicity letter to this column:
Dear Friends of Jazz,
We are pleased to send you this message to invite you to celebrate International Jazz Day, in your country on April 30, 2013.
In November 2011, during the General Conference of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), the international community proclaimed April 30 as International Jazz Day in order to highlight Jazz and its diplomatic role of uniting people in all corners of the globe.
The Day is intended to raise awareness of the virtues of Jazz as an educational tool and a force for peace, unity and dialogue.
Each year on April 30, this important day is celebrated around the world for 24 hours to promote peace, dialogue and peace among cultures.
International Jazz Day is chaired and led by Irina Bokova, UNESCO Director-General, and legendary pianist and composer Herbie Hancock, who serves as a UNESCO Ambassador for Intercultural Dialogue and Chairman of the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz (TMIJ).
Individuals, groups and institutions can get involved in this global celebration and participate in many ways; both big and small - through organizing discussions, playing Jazz music in classrooms, concerts, jam sessions, debates, discussions, showing Jazz films or any other means, ambitious or modest, which celebrates Jazz and its values. Once your event is organised, we ask that you register it at http://jazzday.com so we can let the rest of the world know what you are doing to celebrate Jazz.
We invite you to see the different ways in which people are celebrating International Jazz Day on the following links and we would be thrilled if you could join us in this global celebration, even if it is a simple announcement before a planned concert, or a community meeting to discuss the history of Jazz or a student gathering to listen together to Jazz music and discuss their impressions.
We would be grateful if you could kindly share your initiatives with us so that we can include your celebrations among those taking place around the world.
Zambia's relationship with jazz has become weaker over the years. Lusaka's Jazz Club hasn't played Jazz in decades. It's a wonder why it is called the Jazz Club? On Zambian radio stations many disc jockeys are too shallow to appreciate the vast and rich world of jazz. They are so preoccupied with trying to perfect their fake annoying accents and spend very little time being genuine music lovers. Their presentations are so full of "mmh" "uhh" "you know" it's painful to sit through their annoying shifts. Don't the proprietors of these radio stations know you just cannot fake an accent? People can hear through the fakeness and if you took a poll I am sure you will find that DJs with the most natural accents are the most popular. This writer remembers how the late Sam "The Man" Nkhoma used to win, for successive years, the most popular DJ award in the early nineties probably primarily because he had the most natural accent on the then radio Mulungushi (now Radio 4).
The fake accented DJs that adorn our radio stations these days are so shallow in their grasp of topics it's frightening and shameful. It is obvious that these fake accented DJs do not read much beyond what they see on Facebook. The height of their knowledge of the world is telling us how Chris Brown and Rihanna are doing. I am pretty sure that most of them were not even academically average at high school. Just what is the entry requirement to become a DJ these days? In this writer's mind, the adverts for some of the current DJs could read as follows:
• Fake Accent
• Shallow understanding of current affairs
• Lack of knowledge and appreciation of music will be considered an advantage
What makes this sad is that these fake accented DJs have a know-it-all attitude and cannot learn. They are empty tins (vikopo in Nyanja) that cannot be opened and filled with anything. They revel in their ignorance. For a growing number of Zambians, radio stations are becoming just portals for news bulletins. The other times are too infuriating to bear.
Coming back to the International Day of Jazz, this writer urges radio stations, musicians and other artistes to join in this noble day. On radio and TV we urge all to dust the records of traditional jazz pioneers such as Count Basie, Louis Armstrong Ella Fitzgerald to the revolutionary Miles Davis all the way to modern jazz music of Earl Klugh, Hugh Masekela and Manu Dibangu-and this is just a tip of the iceberg. By tip of iceberg we are saying jazz is a deep, immense and ever growing world. Jazz is essentially the first African music to be exported to the western world. Granted it did incorporate western form in harmony and structure but it remains and will always remain, in the ears of this writer, an African music form. It was taken to the western world by the slaves from the African continent. For many years revisionists and racists have tried to distance this African music form from Africa because it is too good to be African and giving credit to Africa for such greatness did not fit their ideology. In fact some jazz practitioners are not even aware of the Africaness of what they perform because of this revisionism.
What kinds of activities are encouraged on the International Day of Jazz? Details are available on the website jazzday.com. It ranges from art exhibitions, jam sessions, and performances. For now only one event is listed for the International Day of Jazz for Zambia. This is a performance by Yvonne Mwale at Alliance Franciase.
Rex Mukubonda, Jones Kabanga, how about a putting up a real jazz performance on that day!
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