“Disco la yesu” music in the Evangelical Lutheran Church: A strategy for evangelization in the Northwestern Diocese, Bukoba, Tanzania
Kameli, Jenitha Abela
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In this study, I examine how ―disko la Yesu‖ music is used as a strategy for evangelization in the Evangelical Lutheran Church, North-western Diocese (ELC/NWD) Bukoba-Tanzania. I define ―disko la Yesu‖ music as music produced by musical instruments and equipments that are powered either by hydro-electrisity, electricity from fuel generator, solar energy or car batteries to produce and enhance sound. The music instruments include, but not limited to electric guitars and keyboards while equipments include microphones, mixers, sound monitors, and amplifiers. In addition, ―disko la Yesu‖ music is a style of music performance practice used in church contexts, which includes any popular music genre in Tanzania such as bongo flava, reggae, soukous and a blend of different genres whose product cannot be easily categorized in a specific music genre. I specifically conducted this study to examine the relationship between ―disko la Yesu‖ music and evengelisation in the evangelical Lutheran church, Northwestern Diocese, Bukoba. I define evangelization as a process of sharing the word of God with the aim of attracting, retaining and converting people to a new faith or belief. I particularly analyze the relationship between ―disko la Yesu‖ music and evangelization focusing on the nature of ―disko la Yesu‖ music in terms of: 1); music as sound; 2) music as text and; 3) music as context to understand how and why this music enhances the evangelization process in the ELC/NWD. Further, I examine ―disko la Yesu‖ music focusing on the nature of ―disko la Yesu‖ music genres used in attracting, converting and retaining people to the ELC/NWD. In addition, I examine the nature of messages conveyed through ―disko la Yesu‖ music performed in the ELC/NWD church to understand how it participates in the evangelizatio process. This study was triggered by controversies about the nature of music that is appropriate to be performed in church contexts in the ELC/NWD. As this study demonstrates, since the inception of the ELC/NWD, there have been debates as to whether hymns, church music based on indigenous Tanzanian musical styles or ―disko la Yesu‖ music is the right music to be performed in church contexts. The nature of this study necessistated me to employ a qualitative research methodology. Qualitative reaearch methodology necessitates an ethnographic approach. I used interviews, participant observation and library research to gather data. The ethnographic approach informed the collection of people‘s views, thoughts, and experiences about ―dosko la Yesu‖ music. I chose informants using purposive, random and snowball techniques. Informed by Steven Feld‘s (1994) music communication theory, I argue that ―disko la Yesu‖ music is a form of communication since it facilitates the process of evangelization in the ELCT/NWD. As Feld also discusses, communication takes place when the sent message can generate meaning and the meaning has to be interpreted and reacted upon by the receiver. However, the musical sounds themselves do not communicate anything. Rather, as Nannyonga-Tamusuza (2002) argues, meaning is constructed by those who listen to the music. Therefore, despite the fact that ―disko la Yesu‖ music may not mean anything to elderly people, the youths may derive meaning from this music since it relates to the music performed in disco halls. In this study, I also argue that there is a dialectical relationship between music as sound, music as text and music as context. While the music as sound, text and context participate in the evangelization process in ELC/NWD, the contexts under which ―disko la Yesu‖ music is performed also influence the kind of music performed in ELC/NWD. I conclude that ―disko la Yesu‖ music paricipates in attraction and retantion of members into ELC/NWD. I recomand the future scholars should address how ―disko la Yesu‖ music participates in convenssion of its members since I did not have the tools and skills to do so. Further, future scholars should investigate the relationship between economics and ―disko la Yesu‖ music since this music is also sold as a commodity to the members for the congregations of ELC/NWD.