Project students

Click on the images to view the biographies of the students involved in the Afro-Asia project:


Eshcha AdamsJorge Iván SepúlvedaMapule MphulatsiOla AdebolaPatricia Chipangura Ramabina Mahapa


Engela BritzErnie KoelaMark AranhaNeo MuyangaRashid AdamsSeshadari MoodleyLindelwa Pepu


Dineo SkosanaRobert Tendai NyamushoshoSophia Olivia SananValmont LayneWitness MudzamatiraEdward SakeEdward Sake

Dineo Skosana

Dineo SkosanaUniversity of the Witwatersrand

Dineo Skosana is currently completing her PhD in Political Science in the Department of Political Studies at the University of the Witwatersrand. Her doctoral research explores the intersection of the mineral and heritage laws in South Africa through a case study of grave relocations by Glencore, a colliery mine based in Witbank, in the Mpumalanga province of South Africa.

Dineo’s research for the Recentring AfroAsia Project, titled ‘Refiguring Traditional Leadership’, seeks to explore the early contentious kinship theory, and to engage it alongside archaeological records and oral histories to understand the polity of chieftaincies in pre-colonial Africa. To unpack this history, she is interested in investigating the records of the old Indian Ocean trade routes to establish whether there was a connection between chiefly authority, locals and outside traders, as well as the politics thereof. She is hoping that these records will help to shed light on South Africa’s pre-colonial history, and contribute to our knowledge about the history of the institution of traditional leadership.  

Her fieldwork for this research includes work on the Nhlapo Commission Records, South Africa, the Maritime Trade Routes Archives and the Old-World Trade Routes Archive.

She reads and writes English, Pedi, Ndebele and Zulu, and has had to use all these languages in order to understand the archival records in relation to oral accounts.


  • Skosana, D (2013) ‘The interface between tradition and modernity: An outline of the Kekana succession dispute and their encounter with the Platinum Reef Resource Mine’. New Contree 67 (Special Edition, December): 83–96.
  • Skosana, D. (2017) ‘Protecting the dead: The South African National Heritage Resources Act in context’. In M. Christian Green, Rosalind I.J. Hackett, Len Hansen & Francois Venter (eds). Religious Pluralism, Heritage and Social Development. Stellenbosch: SUN MeDIA.
  • Buthelezi, M. & Skosana, D. (in press) ‘The salience of chiefs in post-apartheid South Africa: Reflections on the Nhlapo Commission’. In Jean Comaroff & John Comaroff (eds), The Politics of Custom: Chiefs, Capital, and Culture in Contemporary Africa. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.    


Engela Britz

Engela BritzUniversity of Cape Town

Engela Britz is studying towards a Master’s degree at the South African College of Music, University of Cape Town. Her research is focused on the history and social role of lute-like instruments in the Indian Ocean, with a specific interest in the ramkie – a southern African lute. This forms part of her broader research into the music of the rieldans, which is an indigenous southern African dance form characterised by its distinctive footwork, animal mimicry and courtship motives.

Her fieldwork is based in South Africa where she works with rieldans musicians and instrument makers. She speaks Afrikaans and English, and relies mainly on the former for her research.






Ernie Koela

Ernie KoelaUniversity of Cape Town
Ernie Koela is an Afrikan music disciple, a Consciously black Afrikan multi-instrumentalist, traditionalist composer, writer, poet, playwright, director, singer, co-founder of Azanian Aesthetics, academic, multi-instrument maker and dancer. He plays a variety of instruments such as the berimbau, uhadi, umakhweyana, Afrikan percussion instruments such as the dunn-dunn and djembe,  the mbira ,nyunga-nyunga , chitende, timbila, umrhubhe and guitar. He has performed at the international fringe festival in Edinburgh, the Grahamstown Arts Festival, the Riaz Festival in Mozambique and UCT Ibuyambo shows African Groove, Jarabi, Simbi and Under the Skies.  He believes Afrikan music is an ancient medicine designed to open the imaginations of those lost to the broken world today.

Ernie is currently enrolled at the University of Cape Town for a Master’s degree in Afrikan music studies, with a focus on the centrally braced bow as a key artefact, spiritual talisman and art h’story that connects the continents of Afrika and Asia musically, culturally and h’storically. He has researched on the ground in three countries searching for centrally braced bows – namely India, Mozambique and South Afrika (Swaziland and Kwazulu-Natal) – before the Recentring AfroAsia Project commenced and during the programme in 2017.

He speaks both isiXhosa and English, and is set on learning Portuguese and Sesotho. Personally, he occupies most of his time unpacking what it means to open one’s inner eye, ears and mind when undergoing physical and spiritual reconstruction through traditional music. He does this form of introspection and re-imagination experimentally with a group named Azanian Aesthetics. This formation aims to bring the music of the people closer to the peoples, both in imagination and in reality. He is a co-founder of Indigenous Too which has travelled both locally and abroad in search of indigenous master musicians and instrument makers. The project attempts to bridge an intergenerational gap, created by modernity, that exists between contemporary young black peoples and older, rural black people’s personal experience, knowledge and information. As a performer he goes under the name Mntana wexhwele: here he delves as deep as he can go into the trance that is Afrikan music spirituality. He hopes to release his first body of work by the end of 2017.


Eshcha Adams

Eshcha AdamsUniversity of Cape Town

Eshcha Adams is a dance educator and aspiring academic research student based at the South African College of Music, University of Cape Town. Her background is in dance education and dance studies, and she holds a Bachelor of Music (Dance) degree from the University of Cape Town. She is a member of the Recentring AfroAsia project and is currently completing her Honours degree in Musicology.

Eshcha has a keen interest in women’s studies and education, with an emphasis on dance and music. Her research focus is on how women were educated in pre-colonial Mombasa, Kenya. She is interested in the various female figures in the region and era, how they were educated, and what their roles in society were. She wishes to contribute towards the uncovering and advancement of Indigenous Knowledge Systems as she believes that this is particularly significant in our contemporary social milieu in which ‘decolonising’ the curriculum is significant.

In July 2017 Eshcha undertook a short fieldwork trip to Kenya, where she learned a great deal. She is proud to be a member of the RAA cohort and hopes that her research will positively contribute to the development of a model of indigenous education.


Jorge Iván Sepúlveda

Jorge Iván SepúlvedaUniversity of Cape Town

Jorge Iván Sepúlveda is studying towards an Honours degree at the South African College of Music, University of Cape Town. The main purpose of his research is on generating arguments to support the theory of the migration of xylophones between Africa and South Asia, without placing any of the two continents as the main source, but emphasising the idea that they came from one of the two places and then travelled to the other. For this purpose, the project proposes two fundamental instances: the first one, a literary criticism of authors who have written about the origin of xylophones in both continents, and the second one, an analysis of a case based on research to the atranatra xylophone from Madagascar and the jatung utang xylophone from Borneo Island.

In doing this research Jorge wants to contribute to the telling of a story of a part of humanity that is not widely spoken about. Through increased recognition of these musics, his research aims to contribute to the clear idea that the music, instruments and broader culture of these communities in these specific places are just as important as any Western music, instrument and culture. And through this clarification, the research aims to add to the undoing of the cultural hierarchies that have made us believe that one particular human civilisation is superior to another.

Jorge’s home language is Spanish, and he also speaks English and basic French. Given that his work is concerned with the recognition of two instruments within the cultures of Madagascar and on the island of Borneo, he uses English and French to do the research.

Jorge is one of the current generation of percussionists and drummers influenced enormously by the traditional music of the Colombian coastal regions. His approach to music, based on tradition and urban musical languages, has led him to an interpretative development of rhythm treatment linked to a highly expressive experimental trend. He has participated in different music festivals across South America, and in a large number of recordings. Currently, in addition to directing his own sextet (Caída Libre), the Suricato group and an improvisation project, he also works with a number of musicians and groups including Curupira, Ricardo Gallo Cuarteto, Antonio Arnedo Cuarteto, Kike Mendoza Trío, Pársec Trío, Álvarez - Sepúlveda Duo, Gallo - Experimental Sepúlveda and Asdrúbal. He works as a drum professor at the Pontificia Universidad Javeriana, and at the Fernando Sor music school in Bogotá, Colombia.

Since his arrival in Cape Town, in addition to dedicating his time to classes and his research, he has begun to create two musical projects with different musicians from UCT. These are:
the Sahel Trio, formed by three young creators from different countries who base their musical exploration on the sounds of the traditions of Mali, South Africa and Colombia, but which in turn weave contemporary and improvisational sonorities;
Project Inye. The versatility of the sonorities of the world is mixed together in a group like Inye. Incorporating one of the most representative instruments of Africa – Mozambique’s timbila – the group rediscovers how to relate it to a modern soundscape full of textures ranging from drum and base to Afrobeat and the dark rap/hip hop sonorities of the 1980s. Comprising four international artists from different latitudes, Inye is one of the most versatile groupings on the music scene in Cape Town. The band was invited to perform as opening act at the annual Bayimba International Festival of the Arts 2017 in Kampala, Uganda.

You can find out more about Jorge’s music at:

Lindelwa Pepu

Lindelwa PepuUniversity of the Witwatersrand

Lindelwa Pepu is studying towards a Master’s degree in the Department of Heritage, University of the Witwatersrand. Her research project focuses on how museums preserve, display and engage musical bows. She aims to analyse, from a curatorial perspective, how Museum Africa in Johannesburg has collected, stored and research the uhadi bow in its collection. In order to extend and substantiate this research, she will also examine the Siddis, who are African-Indians and with whom the malunga bow originates; this bow has correlating characteristics to the uhadi bow.

This study is prompted by the initiative to restore a neglected and forgotten area of musical instruments, particularly those that document and encapsulate disappearing traditions and cultural practices. As part of the study Lindelwa is conducting fieldwork in Johannesburg with Museum Africa and individuals who are uhadi bow players. The individual players speak English and use Xhosa terminology for explaining their musical instruments; Lindelwa uses these languages for the research, and writes in English. Every recording of interviews conducted as part of the research will be included in an appendix to the final research document.


Mapule Mohulatsi

Mapule MohulatsiUniversity of the Witwatersrand

Mapule Mohulatsi is registered for an Honours degree in the Department of African Literature, University of the Witwatersrand, and is a Wits City Institute Mellon Recentring AfroAsia Honours Fellow. The title of her research report is ‘Radio Islam’s Soweto youth listeners: Media, religion, and audience’.






Mark Aranha

Mark AranhaUniversity of Cape Town

Mark Aranha is a Master’s candidate at the South African College of Music, University of Cape Town. His current research covers the music, social formations and origins of the Jews of Cochin and the Mappilas, two centuries-old communities that developed as a result of interactions between pre-colonial maritime mercantile groups and native Malabar society. While very few Cochini Jews remain, the Mappilas are a thriving community in the modern Indian state of Kerala where Mark will be carrying out his fieldwork.

While he is fluent in English and Hindi, with an interest in French and Arabic, his research will be conducted in English.
Mark is a guitarist, educator, composer and producer, working with several artists in India, most notably Susmit Sen (Indian Ocean) and Sumangala Damodaran. He also holds an MBA and a Bachelor’s degree in Economics, and has previously held management positions in the corporate world before making the moving to music.


Neo Muyanga

Neo MuyangaUniversity of Cape Town

Neo Muyanga is working towards a Master’s degree based in the Centre for African Studies and the Drama Department at the University of Cape Town. He is a composer and musical dramatist whose work centres on the study of practices and strategies of and for musicking in pre-colonial Africa, as well as the study of strategies employed to preserve these old modes of indigenous ‘knowing’ and ‘musicking’ within post-colonial Africa and its global diaspora. His work also seeks to highlight contemporary examples of music drama that aim to augment and extrapolate from the established patterns of indigenous African musicking and which propose a new praxis from the global South.

The pursuit of this research takes place through musical practice, the study of extant literature, and recordings and interviews with practitioners. As a composer himself, he takes responsibility for mounting music productions that elaborate on the themes outlined above – in a variety of formats including live onstage, in studio recordings and in art installations – where this often involves collaborating with other artists, academics and heritage institutions.  
He has conducted interviews, collaborations and performances at the following sonic spaces and with the following partners: Artscape Theatre (Cape Town city centre), Guga S’thebe Centre (Kwa-Langa township), the Methodist Church, False Bay Circuit, Khayelitsha (Cape Town), El Warsha (downtown Cairo, Egypt), the Goethe Institut (downtown Salvador, Brazil).

He speaks Sesotho, isiZulu, isiXhosa, English, Italian, Portuguese (intermediate), Spanish (intermediate)and German (intermediate) and has used all of these languages in the course of his research.

Neo’s work can be explored on his website:


Ola Adebola

Ola Adebola University of Cape Town

Ola Adebola is currently an Honours student at the South African College of Music, University of Cape Town. His research is titled ‘The influence of Islam in the secular music of medieval Ethiopia: A historical and analytical study of the qiñit and the maqām between the 7th century and the 12th century’. It is often challenging to distinguish religiously oriented influences such as Islam, because the history of Ethiopia and Arabia is very complex and they share early developmental legacies alongside Christianity and Judaism, as well as other geographically related cultures. However, a distinctly Islam-oriented culture emerged among the Muslim population of Ethiopia; the Wollo and Harari people embody the manifestation of Islam in Ethiopia. Ola’s research aims to consolidate our knowledge of the interconnectedness of the Arab world and the east coast of Africa, particularly Ethiopia, by examining each modal systems (the qiñit and the maqām) in Ethiopia and the Arab world respectively, and comparing them to see the similarities, differences and overlapping of influences in the two modal systems.

Ola speaks and writes fluently in English and Yoruba. His research is being conducted solely in English.  







Patricia Chipangura

Patricia Chipangura University of Witwatersrand

Patricia Chipangura is studying towards an Honours degree in Heritage Studies in the Department of African Art History, Wits School of Arts, and Faculty of Humanities, University of the Witwatersrand, and is a Wits City Institute Mellon Recentring AfroAsia Honours Fellow. The title of the research report that forms part of her degree is ‘An analysis of the presentation of material culture displayed in Zimbabwean museums generated through contacts with the Indian Ocean trade route (800 – 1700AD)’.








Ramabina Mahapa

Ramabina Mahapa University of Cape Town

Ramabina Mahapa is currently completing his Bachelor of Social Science Honours in the Centre for African Studies at the University of Cape Town, focusing on the role of civilian-driven violence in the genocide of hunter-gatherer societies within settler colonies.

His research involves a comparative study of the Cape San people, Queensland Aborigines and Native Americans of California. Central to his research topic is the question: Does the concept of civilian-driven genocide provide a better understanding of the genocide of the Cape San peoples, Queensland Aborigines, and Native Americans of California?

He speaks Sepedi and English, and is conducting his research work in English.




Rashid Epstein Adams

Rashid Epstein AdamsUniversity of Cape Town

Rashid Epstein Adams is a South African ethnomusicologist/organologist currently based at the South African College of Music, University of Cape Town. In 2015 he graduated with his Bachelor’s degree in Music with an overall distinction, and distinctions in African Instruments, African Music and Worlds of Music. He has thus far picked up 19 awards for academic excellence in his fairly short academic career – culminating in publication of an article in the 2016 edition of Nota Bene, a journal based at Western University, Canada. Rashid has also presented papers on his research at a few local conferences, as well as at the 17th International Conference of the RIdIM – Association Répertoire International d'Iconographie Musicale, which took place in Athens, Greece, in October 2017.

Currently Rashid is working towards the completion of his Master’s degree in Music, and is part of the Recentring AfroAsia cohort of students. His Master’s research examines the dispersion of several instruments and instrument types from various parts of the Indian Ocean world to Madagascar. Having noted striking similarities between certain Malagasy instruments and several examples from Southeast Asia, East Africa and Arabia, the research is situated in the pre-colonial period in which many contacts and exchanges with Madagascar are said to have occurred. By incorporating a wide range of sources from various disciplines, Rashid intends to present a preliminary multidisciplinary model for historical reconstruction in which comparative organology (the comparative study of musical instruments) is emphasised. Whilst Rashid is fluent in English and Afrikaans, his current research has required him to acquire a basic understanding of spoken and written French, which he has done through online and face-to-face classes.

A significant theme in Rashid’s current research is the examination of symbolism in Malagasy material culture and folk art. On course to complete his dissertation in early 2018, Rashid’s research project saw him conduct fieldwork in July and August 2017 in Madagascar and Reunion, where he conducted several interviews with prominent scholars and visited musical instrument museums, also photographing and collecting several traditional Malagasy instruments – all elements imperative to his current research project.

An online version of Rashid’s article in Nota Bene can be found at:


Robert Tendai Nyamushosho

Robert Tendai NyamushoshoUniversity of Cape Town

Robert Tendai Nyamushosho is working towards his PhD in the Department of Archaeology at the University of Cape Town, under the supervision of Professor Shadreck Chirikure. His research in the Recentring AfroAsia Project focuses on the archaeology of the period between the 7th and 15th centuries. Much of what we know about the rise of complexity in southern Africa in this period is limited to a few urban centres and enshrined in Eurocentric models of cultural change and exchange. Robert sees his role as finding the primary evidence that gives depth to the movement of material goods and people that traversed the coast-interior gradient, using African-centred models that are informed by African Philosophy. Currently his work on these issues is focused on the archaeology and anthropology of Mberengwa, a marginalised area in southern Zimbabwe. He will be collecting various datasets from selected sites using archaeological surveys and excavations, and hopefully the data generated will contribute to enhancing the AfroAsian community of scholarship.

Examples of his work can be found at:

Seshadari Moodley

Seshadari MoodleyUniversity of Cape Town

Seshadari Moodley is studying towards a Master’s degree in the Department of English Language and Literature at the University of Cape Town – he likes to insist that it be called the Department of Literary (and Cultural) Studies.

In 2017, he has focused his research around the ‘repressive hypothesis’ by using this hypothesis to show the ways that racist and colonial ideas are introjected onto the minds of repressed people in colonial, post-colonial and neo-colonial countries. The repressive hypothesis, which was codified by Herbert Marcuse (but arguably predates him), is an attempt to psychoanalytically analyse power relations – particularly the relation of the ruling class and/or the state to the individual. According to this theory, the values of those in power are adopted by the rest of society via ideology and other means, analogous to the way that the superego is formed.  

Seshadari argues that this can be particularly seen in and applied to the writings of Frantz Fanon, who uses psychoanalysis to describe for example how inferiority complexes are formed among people of colour in post-colonial countries; how and why people of colour identify with and attempt to emulate their oppressors; how one-dimensional identities are formed; and the relevance of the manipulation of desires in repression. Seshadari applies this theory to the writings of various and diverse thinkers such as Ngu ̃gi ̃ wa Thiong’o, Ashis Nandy, Michel Foucault and Edward Said, who add important insights that modify and strengthen the repressive hypothesis.

He speaks English and Afrikaans, and basic Spanish. He uses English for his research.

Seshadari is also an aspiring novelist and does lots of creative writing. He used to be a serious pianist but hasn’t practised much over the past few years. Being part of the Recentring AfroAsia Project and surrounded by many talented musicians has sparked his musical interest and inspired him to start practising again.

He is interested in the strength sports (powerlifting, weightlifting, strongman etc.) and competes in powerlifting.

Moodley, S. (2017) ‘Shortbread’, in CEA Greatest Anthology Written. Cape Town: Celenic Earth Publications.


Sophia Olivia Sanan

Sophia Olivia SananUniversity of Cape Town

Sophia Olivia Sanan is a PhD candidate in the Department of Sociology, University of Cape Town, and a Research Fellow with the Recentring AfroAsia Project. She has been working in the fields of visual culture and arts education in South Africa for the last nine years. She holds a Masters degree in Sociology from the Universities of Freiburg in Germany, Jawaharlal Nehru University in India and UCT, an Honours degree from UCT in Political Philosophy and Social Theory, and a BA in Visual Communication from Stellenbosch University. Through her work as a scholar, lecturer and researcher she has focused on the themes of art and design education for social justice; race and institutional transformation in higher education; cultural policy development in Africa; and the socio-cultural dimensions of African migration in Europe, South Africa and India. Her studies, research work and personal life have allowed her to spend extensive time in North India, which she considers a second home.

Her PhD research is a comparative study on race, ‘foreign-ness’ and belonging in migrant African micro-communities in Cape Town and New Delhi. In both of these cities, she will engage with both self-identified ‘locals’ and African ‘foreigners’ to explore personal narratives, collective imaginings and social tensions through visual research methods and the study of cultural and aesthetic expressions. By using a visual approach to data collection, she aims to create an inclusive dialogue-based research process. The visual, textual and audio-visual mapping processes conducted in both cities will aim to illuminate a) the imagined Africa in India and South Africa that informs the perception of ‘otherness’ expressed in moments of violence; b) responses, stories and narratives from the African diaspora to this collective imaginary; and c) the dialogue, interaction and exchange that would result from these maps, stories and imaginations engaging with each other.

The study is premised on the idea that engaging with the experiences of discrimination, marginalisation and violence felt by perceived ‘foreign’ communities in both India and South Africa may be instructive in understanding and responding to the construction of race and difference in both of these two global South urban environments. By drawing on histories of cultural entanglements between India and Africa, the study hopes to explore less violent contemporary possibilities for Afro-Asian connectivity.

Valmont Layne

University of the Western Cape
Valmont Layne Valmont Layne is currently a PhD candidate in History and holds a Mellon Fellowship at the Centre for Humanities Research, University of the Western Cape. He is also a Visiting Scholar at the Interdisciplinary Centre for the Study of Global Change at the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis USA through December 2017.

In his career, Valmont has pursued questions of justice and equity as a musician, curator, activist and arts administrator. He completed a Master’s degree at the University of Cape Town in 2005, focusing on jazz, social dance and vernacular music in the Western Cape. He spent ten years at the District Six Museum in Cape Town where he established the Audio-visual Research Archives and its collections of music and oral histories – focusing on the music and culture of District Six and the inner city. He has curated and performed with a number of projects relating to the music and cultural life of District Six before becoming Director of the Museum in 2005.

Valmont has participated in a range of international museum, heritage and human rights programmes, such as the Swedish African Museum Programme and the International Coalition of Historic Site Museums of Conscience, where he served on its International Board.

He has also been part of the team at the Klein Karoo National Arts Festival, one of South Africa’s premier multi-disciplinary arts festivals. More recently he has worked as Secretary General of Arterial Network’s South African Chapter, where he coordinated cultural policy advocacy, research, and monitoring of freedom of creative expression.

Witness Mudzamatira

University of the Witwatersrand

Witness MudzamatiraWitness Mudzamatira is a PhD candidate in the Department of Geography, Archaeology and Environmental Studies, at the University of Witwatersrand. His research is titled ‘Spatial information technology and heritage management in the southern Gauteng Province, South Africa’.

The research relates to the Recentring AfroAsia Project in that the stone-walled ruins that form the focus of the study are dated within  the period 600–1300 AD. The research will strive to find reasons why there is little historical content available for this period. It will be done through a study of publications covering the period.






Edward Sake

University of Cape Town

Edward SakeEdward Sake is a PhD candidate at the South African College of Music, University of Cape Town. His research focuses on Zimbabwean music and is titled ‘Zimbabwean Music Iconography: Archaeological and Archiving’. He will be doing his fieldwork in Zimbabwe, at the Great Zimbabwe site near Masvingo town as well as at the National Archives of Zimbabwe in Harare. He plans to do collaborative work with Professor Shadreck Chirikure and his UCT Department of Archaeology team. He speaks English and ChiShona and will use both languages for his research, though the latter will feature more prominently.

Alongside his research work, Edward is also active as a musician and teacher. He plays the mbira and coaches people in this instrument, and also trains people in Shona singing technique.






Kristy Stone

Kristy Stone Kristy Stone is working towards a PhD in History at the Centre for Humanities Research, University of the Western Cape. The title of her study is ‘Art and Affect: Encounters with objects of power in museums and archives’. Objects of power are typically classified in museums as charms, amulets or nkisi. These are objects whose very ‘being’ troubles conventional binaries of living/nonliving, and consequently are the foundations of a positivist ontology that presumes the material world is inanimate. Objects of power are therefore more than aesthetic, they point to other ways of seeing, thinking and being in the world. In her research Kristy explores how the ontological turns of new materialism and animism shift what it means to know, how we encounter objects, the questions we ask and correspondingly, our research practices.

She will be working with African and Asian objects to explore a pre-colonial history. She uses the concept ‘pre-colonial’ not as marker of linear time, but as a means of disrupting ways of being in the present. In this study, she uses art-making as a method to disorder, to experiment, and to creatively rework the archives.

You can see some of Kristy’s work at:, a Recentring AfroAsia Project/Centre for Humanities Research collaboration, with a musical score by Reza Khota (CHR Artist-in-Residence) and Shane Cooper, and animation by Kristy Stone.

Photo credit: Aidan Erasmus, Centre for Humanities Research, UWC

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