The Makhweyane Bow of Swaziland: Music, Poetics and Place


African Humanities Program Postdoctoral Fellowships


South African College of Music


The main objective is to transform the PhD dissertation into a book manuscript. My research investigates how the contemporary performers of the Swazi gourd-resonated bow, the makhweyane, create music. The makhweyane is played by a handful of people, each appearing to consider him or herself the last bearer of this tradition. This research explores how current makhweyane music can be read as oral testimony with regards to the lives of musicians, but also how diverse current praxis serves many functions: as “radio” for lone travelers, as comfort for broken hearts, and as individual acts of citizenry within the broader national environment of Swaziland. In transforming this dissertation into a book, I aim to: extend the reframing of ‘traditional’ musicians from elderly ‘culture-bearers’ to responsive, innovators and active contemporary musicians; and to explore more broadly theoretical literature relating to gender, performance, subjugated knowledge systems, embodiment, listening and landscape.