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Isicathamiya African Culture
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Isicathamiya African Culture

(2) The Role of Isicathamiya Performance in Black Cultural Emancipation in S. Africa

Discuss broadly about the Isicathamiya performance aesthetics in the following order: (a) the theoretical-historical dimension of the rise of the genre, by looking at (i) the definition and the brief history of the genre which had evolved and developed through certain migrants’ experience and struggles, (ii) the two worlds out of which the isicathamiya performance tradition was born, and the vastly different sets of images of personal identity, sociability and aesthetic values upon which these two worlds came to rest; (b) the religions dimension, by tracing its link to the Zionist ritual, or the parallels between the isicathamiya performance and Zionist ritual celebration, as shown in isicathamiya singers and dancers who are mostly amaZayoni—adherents of black independent Zionist churches—and as such considered their performances as analogies of and commentaries on ancestor worship and Zionist church ritual; (c) the revolutionary dimension, by looking at how Isicathamiya performance began to be used showcase the black identity, and how it was later appropriated and revived by several groups of musicians such as Solomon Linda, King Star Brother, and Ladysmith Black Mambazo, as a political protest to rebel and confront the then colonial oppression in the country; and (d) the politico-cultural dimension by looking at how the rapid expansion of radio broadcasting in the country contributed in shaping the evolution isicathamiya performance.

  • Readings: Erlmann, 1999:199-213

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