PASMAE History and Development

The Pan African Society for Music Education (PASME), first mooted at the 1998 ISME (International Society for Music Education) Conference in Pretoria, South Africa, was founded in Harare, Zimbabwe, in August 2000. The first Executive committee comprised Caroline van Niekerk (South Africa) as the first PASME President, James Flolu (Ghana) as Secretary General and Mitchel Strumpf (then in Zimbabwe) as Treasurer.

At PASMAEC2001, the Society’s conference in Lusaka, Zambia (21-25 August 2001), a letter was added to the PASME acronym, and the Society became PASMAE (the Pan African Society for Musical Arts Education). This is no way implied a move away from the international society and its links with the IMC (International Music Council) and UNESCO. However, it did signify recognition of the fact that, for Africans, music encompasses more than simply a Western view of “music”.

A new executive committee was elected at PASMEC2001: Meki Nzewi (Nigeria) as President, Caroline van Niekerk in the role of Secretary General and Plaxedes Vimbai Chemugarira (Zimbabwe) as Treasurer. The first edition of the PASMAE Constitution and Bylaws was approved at this conference, and selected Conference Proceedings were published.

Soon the Society also had an official journal, The Talking Drum, and its brochures were translated into five languages, in order to increase accessibility. A double CD and accompanying video from a Benefit concert held at the University of Cape Town in April 2002, became available and were sold in aid of the Society. A further accompanying textbook was later produced.

PASMAE received substantial funding through ISME in 2002. Some of this funding was utilised to mobilise and capacitate African delegates to attend the ISME conference in Bergen (11-16 August 2002). The delegates thus empowered were largely identified on the basis of reports which they had submitted, describing the state of music education in their respective countries. These reports formed part of a larger PASMAE project, for which the Mmino Foundation awarded ZAR R80,000.

The 2003 Kenyan conference, 5-11 July, was billed not only as a PASMAE biennial conference (held every two years, and in the odd-numbered years, in between the ISME biennial conferences in the even-numbered years) but as the first ISME Africa Regional Conference. In advance of the gathering, the Secretary General visited potential funders and important bodies (e.g. UNESCO in Nairobi, the Permanent Presidential Music Commission and the national Directorate of Culture), together with Hellen Agak from whom the invitation came that Maseno University could host the conference. At the conference the second Constitution and Bylaws were approved at the General Assembly.

Also at the General Assembly in Kisumu the executive committee was expanded and then comprised Meki Nzewi (President), Caroline van Niekerk (Secretary General – until her resignation in December 2005), three Vice Presidents – Minette Mans (Namibia), Chrispo Caleb Okumu (Kenya) and Adepo Yapo (Ivory Coast) – and an Assistant Secretary General (Hellen Agak, Kenya).

Anri Herbst was appointed the Director of Research and Educational Resources, Robert Kwami the Director: Music Technology, Michael Nixon in charge of the databank and Christopher Klopper the Director of the MAT cells (the Musical Arts Action Teams, a concept initiated by PASMAE at grassroots levels for the collaborative sharing and learning of educators throughout Africa). These individuals, plus the national Representatives, from all possible African countries, formed the Society’s Advisory Committee.

The celebration of ISME’s fiftieth anniversary was held on 9 July 2003, during the Kenya Conference, and most symbolically on the equator, where the host institution, Maseno University, is situated. One black and one white ribbon were ceremonially tied across the equator, and subsequently cut. A special message was sent on a video from the then ISME President, Giocomo Oliva, and Einar Solbu from Norway attended the full conference.

July 2005 saw the PASMAE Conference in Maputo, Mozambique, with Tiago Langa as Conference Chair. The Maputo Conference was more under CIIMDA under the auspices of Meki Nzewi with Christopher Klopper, the Director of the MAT cells, doing all the logistics.

During this Conference a new executive committee was elected comprising Robert Chanunka from Malawi as President, AdeOluwa Okunade from Nigeria as Vice President West Africa, Sipho Mandazi from South Africa as Vice President Southern Africa, Irene Soko from Botswana/Zambia as Secretary General and Christopher Klopper to continue as Operations Manager. Robert Chanunka resigned as President towards the end of 2006 and Sipho Mandazi was requested to act until the Malawi Conference.

In 2007 the PASMAE conference took place at the Kalikuti Hotel in Lilongwe, Malawi, from 26-28 November. The Malawi Conference was graced by the presence of the ISME President Liane Hentschke who also facilitated the release of funds from NAMM towards the preparation of the Conference. A new executive committee was elected: President AdeOluwa Okunade (Nigeria), Vice President Benon Kigozi (Uganda), with Irene Soko (Botswana/Zambia) re-elected as Secretary General and Sipho Mandazi (South Africa) as Treasurer.

Due to logistical matters with accessing funds from the PASMAE account in Pretoria, South Africa, it was resolved that funds from ISME/NAMM be forwarded to hosting nations.

The 2009 PASMAE Conference was held in Lagos, Nigeria, 25-31 October. The executive committee was elected with AdeOluwa Okunade continuing as President, Benon Kigozi now as Vice President East Africa, Irene Soko Vice President Southern Africa, Josephine Mokwunyei (Nigeria) Vice President West Africa, Samuel Kayode (Nigeria) as Secretary General, Sipho Mandazi as Assistant Secretary General and Rose Omollo-Ongati (Kenya) as Operations Manager.

The 7th PASMAE Conference was held in Gaborone, Botswana, at the University of Botswana, 26-31 July 2011. The Conference was graced with 69 papers and the representation of participants was fairly wide. The guest speaker was the Assistant Minister of Education Hon. Keletso Rakhudu.

PASMAE 2013 took place in Kampala, Uganda, from 29 July to 1 August, hosted by Makerere University and convened by Benon Kigozi at the Silver Springs Hotel.

In 2015 the biennial conference had to be moved at a late stage and was then held.

A new development of sub-regional conferences, in addition to the biennial PASMAE/ISME Regional conferences

van Rhyn, Chris. 2013. Towards a Mapping of the Marginal: Readings of Art Songs by Nigerian, Ghanaian, Egyptian and South African Composers. Unpublished PhD dissertation. Stellenbosch University.

Compiled by Professor Caroline van Niekerk.