© DESMOND DESAI, DMD EDU-HOME, 2007
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RAWOOT'S XHOSA NA’AT
During my train journey back from Pretoria where I read a paper entitled "Cultural Constraints within Musical Analysis with particular reference to Islamic Music in (South Africa)" on 31 August 2002, I phoned Ustaad Rawoot. I had to "warn" Rawoot, who together with the poet and author Langenhoven, provided the academic "gist" for my academic discourse to eminent musicologists from universities throughout South Africa, Ghana and even America. The Head of the music section of the University of South Africa (UNISA), George King, approached me immediately after my well-received paper to enquire about the book published by Rawoot on "na'at". King intended to purchase this book on behalf of UNISA.
The problem was that I used material Rawoot gave me two years before - his own git recordings which he requested me to transcribe for publication - in my paper and Rawoot was unaware of my paper. He did not peruse my paper, nor the music transcriptions which, I am sad to report, was done throughout the night of my train journey on the "Shosaloza Meyl' to Pretoria (I met a talented musician Masebenza with whom - I think - I established a live-long acquiantance, truly a remarkable fellow, and who will be the subject of a future paper, we both agreed on the train).
However, Gadija told my the Sunday morning that "they have been through a bad spell". Ustaad Rawoot had a heart attack and was in Grootte Schuur Hospital. She had a breast removed, and had to undergo chemo-therapy. I was sad, but undertook to see Rawoot that same evening in hospital. I found a sick but alert Rawoot ready to discuss my effort, which he proudly publicised to those who visited him. Rawoot then asked Gadija to give me the naat - poem - which he had translated in English and Afrikaans. He requested me to find someone with the necessary "musical background" and knowledge of Xhosa to translate the na'at into Xhosa.
This naat was originaly created by Hasaan bin Thabit about 1400 years ago, during the life of the Prophet Muhammad. A few years ago, Sayyed Ambar Ali Shah Waarsi, translated the Arabic naat into Urdu. According to Rawoot who met Waarsi, "Hazrat Waarsi spent 40 years in a grave yard. If you touched him, you would burn. I greeted him, and felt inspired, different thereafter."
Rawoot then after serious contemplation and transcendance, during a particular moment when he felt inspired, translated this naat, at first into English, and then later into Afrikaans.
He then intended it to be translated into Xhosa. I had to decide whom to use as translator.
During my stay in Pretoria, I met and became closely associated with the academic and Ghanian music educationist and senior lecturer at the University of the Transkei in Umtata. I remembered our journey with Cathy Primos and a lady who was the Director of Culture in the Eastern Cape. After considerable thought. but also through a bit of co-incidence - I lost his e-mail address - Eric Akrofi wrote to me just at the right time. In no time, Mrs Twani was approached to do the translation (A).
I had this checked with Xhosa languages expert Philip Lewis who regarded it as "deep and spiritual, not 'everyday' Xhosa " .
I then handed passed the Xhosa translation on to Ustaad Rawoot, who recuperated fully in the mean time. This was during September 2002.
On 18 September Rawoot summoned me to his home. During my stay of 2-3 hours we made an accurate musical transcription of this naat. Rawoot helped me considerably by playing the na'at on his keyboard. This transcription, which would have taken me much longer otherwise, took a few minutes only. Rawoot and I discussed music in general, as well as his course "On Pitch" which introduced music using Urdu as basis of instruction and outcome par excellence. The following is our transcription:
* CONTACT DESMOND DESAI FOR THIS MUSICAL TRANSCRIPTION:
* A MUSICAL RECORDING BASED IN THIS NA'AT WAS RELEASED WHICH IS
AVAILABLE FOR SALE.