Performance versus Cultural Exchange

                                                     South Africa Pictures 406                            

If you visit South Africa, Lesedi Cultural Village is one place to go. The dances and cultural performances are fast paced and breathtaking. The village espouses a sense of cultural pride of a people, the Zulus, who are extremely proud of their heritage, values, and sensibilities. The village provides a forum for assessing and relating to a way of life that is highly community oriented and centered on communal wholeness rather than on individualism/individual wholeness. I noticed that most of the dances and performances were customarily in groups rather than solo, thus one can deduce that commonality is uppermost to the Zulu people.

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At a deeper level, it can be reasoned that the cultural exhibition intersects between what one can term performance and/versus cultural exchange. It is difficult to wholly pinpoint whether the cultural display was simply performance and nothing more, or that through the performance there was an intended cultural exchange to spectators who mostly don’t understand the culture of the Zulus. I am particular about the losses and gains of cultural exchanges, and how much of a loss of one’s cultural identity to another culture can be classified as violence. 

How reasonable is the claim that due to globalization/colonization/civilization losing part or all of one’s cultural identity to a more dominant culture is violence? But is it? For example, how fair is it, If I don’t teach my kids how to communicate in my native language, or expose them fully to my African culture, and then put the blame on Western cultural influences?

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I often wonder though how much of Western culture has infiltrated African culture as we have come to know it in the 21st Century. A comprehensive scrutiny may divulge influences here and there from varied dominant cultures but I believe for the most part a high percentage of African culture is preserved. A fundamental question though is who gets to determine which cultural values are normative and thus to be upheld?

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One quick tip, at the end of the performance, there is a free buffet for everyone, just be careful with the “Tasty Crocodile,” it actually messed two of my colleagues up-diarrhea. No one tried the “Thunder the Buttocks,” but you might want to try it out if you’re bolder than we were. Good luck on that!

A minor digression, I wonder how much of the Christian culture, if ever there was one, is permeated by cultures and philosophies of other religions, and what these influences portend overall on the beliefs and practices of the Christian faith in postmodernism.

 

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