In the United States of America we have the Journal of Popular Culture - but in Europe, nothing comparable exists.
On the African continent the Journal of the African Music Society African Music in South Africa at least offers a way to participate in the results of research work being done by ethnomusicologists. African Musicology, a journal which began in Kenya has ceased publication after the first issue. Interestingly enough there do exist numerous literary journals in African countries, but none on music, or even popular culture.
The recent appearance of Africultures in France under the direction of Olivier Barlet does include all aspects of cultural production but at the same time does not particulary have an academic public in mind.
Even within the academic community in general any study connected with popular culture carries the stigma of the "lower culture" on an unconscious level. If research is conducted - and even if it is such and such a variant - on a certain piece of classical music, nobody would question its justification. But the choice of a topic in the area of popular music would immediately be met with a doubtful, if not sneering, response. Legitimacy is not automatically granted as with "high culture" themes.
The Journal of Popular Culture in the U.S. had to cope from the start with a majority of contributions coming from the literary field. These texts seemed more amenable to textual analysis. There is the likeness of expression. It is easier too to bring in the source material simply by quotation.
The moment you deal with music, art or let us say textiles, the question of the adequate representation of the source material arises.
The lecture on music suggests the need to present music to the public and that a space has to be created for the subject matter and its special quality.
For this reason popular - not academic - journals on music have for years included recordings in different formats - be it floppy plastic discs in the 1960s or later cassettes and today CDs and CD-Roms. Thus the audio as well as the visual and even the moving image is included. Academic journals lag behind the popular in these publishing achievements.
NTAMA intends to draw on all the latest developments in multi-media electronic publishing. Years ago it sounded like a dream to be able to present the readers an article including colour photographs, sound and moving pictures. Since it has become a workable option now, we will begin with this issue a new generation of academic publishing in the field of popular culture and African music.
The technicalities that had to be overcome, had to be tackled by a group of dedicated students who work around the African Music Archive in the Institute of Ethnology and African-Studies. The process of preparing this first issue has taken us far longer than originally expected. But as the framework now has been established, it is to be hoped that future issues will not raise these kinds of basic problems.
We depend on all the people who love their field of study within the larger area of African popular culture and African music in particular. We do not, however, draw strict lines between African popular culture and African culture in general. Contributions on so-called "New African Art Music are as welcome as studies on African literature even if they are not the focus of this journal. The same applie"s to theatre and dance.
The first issueWe have chosen as a major topic for this first issue Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, the world famous Nigerian musician and singer, who died in August 1997. This issue is devoted to him and is designed to function as an extensive obituary, an homage to one of the most influential, critical and fearless personalities of the post-independence epoch.
We are particulary indebted to Bayo Martins, the senior musician who participated in the burial ceremonies for Fela Anikulapo-Kuti and who, as the President of the Music Foundation of Nigeria Archives, had the event documented on videotape. A short take from the hours of footage will be published here.
Bayo Martins agreed to have his text "Felaism", that introduces his publication "Fela Anikulapo Kuti - Abamieda - A World Press Tributes", reproduced here.
The M.A. student Markus Coester had a paper prepared for the seminar we conducted here in Mainz in 1996 on Fela Anikulapo-Kuti. It has as a main theme selected lyrics of Felas work.
In 1980 the article on Fela's record covers designed by Ghariokwu Lemi appeared. Who wants and has the technical means to may visualize the record covers in colour on full screen. At the same time short quotations from the corresponding music may be heard.
A Fela-Alphabet is included to help decipher the Fela crypticisms.
A bibliography is added. Far from being comprehensive, it is a selection of the material available here in Mainz.
Each issue of our bi-annual journal includes following sections:
- short comments and communications
- reviews of records, CDs and cassettes; listed new releases
- reviews of books
- reviews of events, be they concerts, exhibitions or readings
- interviews with artists
- regular reports on the African hip-hop scene
- announcements in all the above areas
This time we offer a portion of an interview with the two Sibeba singers of Bioko (Equatorial Guinea) and a piece of the first concert of Sibeba in the Alte Oper of Frankfurt/Main in 1997.
The announcement section will be continously updated to provide topical information. Announcements include academic events as well as performances and exhibitions.
Finally we want to point out that this journal in no way intends to be another ethnomusicological publication and therefore will not pose any threat to any existing and established periodicals. In fact NTAMA will not be printed!
Second Slavery could be seen as a guideline for our analyses of the record industry, concerts, distribution and the dependencies connected with them.
Issues of copyright and piracy may be addressed as well.
The deadline is the 1st of October 1998.