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Dontsa, Luvuyo (1990) Contemporary political performing arts in South Africa. PhD thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI:

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Despite the fact that 'transculturation' between Africans and Europeans in South Africa has been going on for more than two centuries, African contemporary political performing arts continually reflect indigenous performing arts' genres of the pre-colonial era. Although a contemporary political performing artist does not play exactly the same role that is played by the traditional artist, who 'criticises the chiefs for perverting the laws and the customs of the nation and laments their abuse of power and neglect of their responsibilities and obligations to the people' (Mafeje, 1967: 195), he still represents the public: in this case a much wider public, and expresses the views which are shared by Africans throughout the whole country. The thesis surveys the political roles of contemporary African performing arts in South Africa. It demonstrates how performing arts have been systematically used as a mechanism to 'step in arenas' where one would dare not with political vehicle, and conveying political messages to promote the struggle for national liberation. The work shows the unique manner in which political performing arts are implemented, and to what degree they have succeeded. It also reveals an element of fear among both Africans and Europeans as being an overt manifestation of the national struggle by the Africans, which has resulted in harassments and detentions of the former, and the loss of privileges to the latter. Lastly, it reflects frustration among the Africans, as their endeavours for national liberation are thwarted. The research has covered the techniques employed by the performing artists to convey political messages. It also assesses the relationship between the traditional and the avant-garde (non-conventional) performing arts, and evaluates the reasons for the change in tactics. Reactions of resentment to change in cultural and social life are discussed; how the Government has ruthlessly responded to such addresses; and how people have reacted to harsh response from the Government. The work also reveals how performing arts have appealed for international attention to address the South African situation, and how international artists have used an international forum to highlight the South African situation. Lastly, the work analyses South African contemporary political performing arts in worldwide context.

Item Type: Theses (PhD)
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses > Proquest
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 16 Oct 2018 15:14

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