I don't intend to make this a long post. But I wanted to give an update on my studies and keep something posted on my blog for people to read. It's been a long, lonely month as I try to put in some solid studying and get a good head start on my research. (I hope it will be over 250 hours of quality work for the last six weeks I've been in Oxford--I'm at 234 hours now.) I'm also anxious to get back to the US (June 8) and get back to a new normal, whatever that is.
So where am I with the question? After lots of thought and discussion with my mentor and others, I realized that I can't really get into the issue of contextualizing worship music in the Songhai church until I understand much better what is going on in the Songhai culture and church with music. So, my main question has to deal with the background issue: Why is there so little indigenous worship music in the Songhai church? There will be two subquestions connected to the main question. First, what are the social and cultural hindrances to the development of an indigenous Songhai hymnody? And, second, how have western and other African concepts of music helped to shape the current form and style of worship music in the Songhai church? Simple questions, but not so easy to answer.
So, where do I go from here? During the next year, I'll be missionary-in-residence at Washington Bible College in Lanham, MD. I'll be working part-time, teaching a few courses and encouraging the missions-related groups on campus. I'll also be studying part-time. Between now and May 2011, I need to register with the University of Wales. I am only currently enrolled at the Oxford Centre for Mission Studies, OCMS does not grant degrees. To enroll at the University of Wales, I have to submit a detailed research proposal of 2500 words with an accompanying essay and bibliography. So, for the next year I need to do a lot of background reading, especially about the Songhai, ethnomusicology, and a biblical theology of worship. Then I need to submit several drafts of my proposal in order for it to be finally approved next May. But that is just the beginning of my research. The main research with my primary sources, the Songhai people themselves, will not commence until I get back to Niger in the summer of 2011. That will be stage 4. The first stage, preparation, is done. The second stage, induction is also past. And the third stage, working on submitting a proposal is now at hand.
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