Upcoming theatre piece
Upcoming theatre piece
It is a contemporary physical theatre piece, brought to life by Ubom! Eastern Cape Drama Company, Rhodes University and the Amaphiko Township Dance Project, and is accompanied by the Kingswood College Band.
This dance and musical journey depicts the historical meeting of white Americans and African slaves – but told from an unusual viewpoint, says choreographer Sifiso Sikhakhane.
The concept came to Sikhakhane, a Rhodes University third-year Drama student, when he saw a documentary about a lullaby sung by Sierra Leonese slaves in America. After centuries away from Africa, the song had survived, even though its meaning had long been forgotten.
Then it was discovered that the song still existed in Sierra Leone and, in its native tongue, it was actually a funeral song. "The documentary made me question my own language and identity," said Sikhakhane, and he believes that even though a person may "speak and live in another language, "the language you cry in shows your identity."
The slaves in America held on to their African identity by singing a funeral song, even though in time the meaning of the words was lost. Sikhakhane uses the story of the song to explore what language, memory and our personal histories mean. He says language is something that connects a person to their ancestral roots and that even though memories are not tangible, they exist.
As for the cast, (four of the dancers are school children, six are Rhodes students, and 47 pupils make up the Kingswood Band), Sikhakhane said they had been very professional, dedicated and talented. He also observed the dynamic between the children from different parts of Grahamstown and how this influenced the performance.
"The kids from Kingswood and Amaphiko are from completely different backgrounds, and they come together and share themselves, and bring their histories." Through a fusion of dance, music and some singing
The cast of dancers from Rhodes University and the Amaphiko project will move to the sounds of the Kingswood College Band to present their histories, as well as those of their characters. "This African-American story has been told so many times," says Sikhakhane, "but I want it to be about our individual histories."