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Saturday, March 26, 2011

Bayimba Regional Festival of the Arts: Jinja

Rachel Magoola at the Bayimba Regional Festival of Arts in Jinja
Bayimba Regional Festival of the Arts: Jinja

“What should the audience expect from Rachel”

“This time, it’s different from my usual performances: I am doing a fusion with African Instruments comprised of Students from the Music Department of Kyambogo University and I am very excited about performing in my home Town and I hope they too are eager to watch me perform live” says Rachel Magoola.

Rachel Magoola is one of the artists who will be performing at the Bayimba Regional Festivals of the Arts that starts in Jinja on 26th March 2011 at the Main Street Primary School along side Siraje form Iganga, Inkwanzi and Munaku Kaama Dance Group, Mbikko Brass Band, Dizzoman and Ivulungo who will be performing Live with a Jazz Band.

Festivals in Nigeria

Nigeria has many local festivals that date back to the time before the arrival of the major religions, and which are still occasions for masquerade and dance. The local festivals cover an enormous range of events, fromMada Dancers harvest festivals and betrothal festivals, to the investing of a new chief and funerals. It seems odd to Western ways of thinking to see a funeral as something to be celebrated. But for many of the tribes, death means joining the ancestors, and so the deceased must get a good send-off.
The dances that were once performed by members of each village have now been taken over by professional troupes, who tour villages performing at each local festival.

Arts Festivals, Craft Markets and Cultural Events Guide : South African Tourist Attractions

From theatre to dance, opera to cabaret, fine art to craft art, classical music to jazz, poetry readings to lectures, every art form is well represented in all South Africa's cities and larges towns. The growing range of arts festivals around South Africa offers visitors the opportunity to combine their pursuit of culture with sightseeing, wine tasting, beach visits, wildlife viewing, history, palaeoanthropology and relaxing in some of South Africa's most beautiful spots.

South African Arts Festivals:

Tunisian theatre pays tribute to revolution

Tunisia's once tightly-controlled theatre enjoyed a remarkable outburst of creative humour, inspired by the revolution. "Intox", a one-man show played by Atef Ben Hassine, premiered last week in Kasserine.

"This is the first time we staged a play without the supervision of the Theatrical Guidance Committee, which always acted as a censor, clipping off many parts of the script," Ben Hassine said. "The Tunisian actor, however, always outsmarted them and still managed to get the message across in a number of plays."

Algeria welcomes Pan-African festival

Thousands of artists and visitors from dozens of African and diaspora nations converged on Algiers for the official start of the second Pan-African Festival. After a 40-year absence, the event returned on Sunday (July 5th), also Algeria's Independence Day, as a large-scale endeavour to revive the continent's culture and arts.

The event, set to run through July 20th, began in spectacular style on Saturday. A grand parade wound through the streets of Algiers, from Sofia Park to Bab-El-Oued. Showboat-style floats from each African participating nation, along with thousands of performers, brought Algiers colourfully to life and raised anticipation for the official opening ceremony on Sunday night.

African Harvest Festivals

African Harvest Festivals

In Africa the festival is of a religious nature and has lots of dancing and music. Dancers wear masks and each dance tells a story. The stories range from a good ghost who looks after their crops and scares away the bad ghosts who try to spoil the food.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011


The history of Islam in Nigeria has examples of a wide range of interaction with African traditional belief systems and practices. At certain times, particularly when Muslims constituted a minority, a pluralist response to other cultures and religions occurred. Muslims took the view that different forms of primal religion could exist side by side with them in the same society. Coupled with this was the recognition that the social and political structure of the wider society could be accommodated. Individual Muslims, and whole communities, throughout Nigeria have incorporated into Islam to varying degrees different aspects of traditional life....


African theologians have stressed that the substratum upon which all future Christian theologizing in Africa must be built is African Traditional Religion. So the question of African conceptions of nature is certainly an appropriate one. By far the largest portion of African theological discourse relevant to ecology thus far has been on the conceptions of creation and/or "nature" found in ATR. As part of the quest of the 1970s, much was written on nature in ATR during this period. We shall discover that in the 1980s African theologians have paid more attention to explicitly Christian theological reflexion on Christian ecological responsibility. In the pages which follow I shall first present some of the salient aspects of some African conceptions of nature, then move to a survey of the more recent theological responses.



Generalizations about traditional Africa are always dangerous because of the distances of time and space that are involved. How far, for example, does " traditional Africa " co-exist with " modern Africa or is it wholly a thing of the past? The question is a difficult one. One cannot deny that there are many threads of continuity, linking the past with the present, the old social order with the new, but how important are the elements of discontinuity? One of the assumptions behind this paper is that the discontinuities are of diminishing importance and that traditional concepts survive because they find a new dimension and a new application in the modern situation. Traditional Africa " is now history, mainly oral history, but that does not mean to say it can be ignored. On the contrary, to recognize traditional concepts and to understand their workings in the modern Africa, it is first of all necessary to see them as part of a political and social order which no longer exists in its pure form. That is largely what we shall be doing in this paper.

Matis Indians: The Jaguar People

Matis Indians Photo

Believe it or not, not that far from Iquitos, Peru you can encounter recently discovered tribes of the Amazon.  In the Javari (Yavarí) Valley (the frontier of Peru with Brazil) the Matis Indians (not to be confused with the Matsés) still live like they have for thousands of years – hunting and gathering.  At one time, before inventing agriculture and pastoralism, the entire human race survived as hunter-gatherers.  Today, only a hand-full of Amazonian tribes practice this ancient way of life.  An encounter with a tribe like the Matis is more than a curiosity; it is a glimpse into the past – into our past and gives us a chance to see how our ancestors were.

Women and Politics in Nigeria

Analyzing the effects of women in politics and their various activities, including their names and portfolios.

Politics can be said to be the act of making public choice and making decision on behalf of people through the medium of the State and its apparatus. It is accepted that for development of any kind to be successful woman which make up a larger proportion of the population should not be left out because there is no doubt that both men and woman have some potentials and rights to contribute meaningfully to the development of their countries through out the world. Africa inclusive. There is abundant historical evidence that African woman have for long been playing crucial role in political life of their countries. So many great women of yesteryears have help in shaping. African politics. They have played crucial roles in redeeming or elevating their countries.

Problems Militating Against Women In Africa Politics

Nigerian women have encountered a number of problems while venturing into politics. There is large scale discrimination from the men folk, both in voting for candidates and in allocating political offices.

More often than not, men constitute a larger percentage of the party membership and this tends to affect women when it comes to selecting or electing candidates for elections. Since men are usually the majority in the political party setup, they tend to dominate the party hierarchy and are there fore at advantage in influencing the party's internal politics.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Cultural Policy Around the World

The challenges to democratic cultural development outlined above are global, but they manifest in different ways from place to place, depending upon local social and political conditions.

For developing societies, the crucial question has been how to preserve and extend indigenous traditions, which root them strongly in the past and provide their deepest sources of energy and inspiration; and at the same time, to take what's best from the industrialized world without being inundated by it. Most developing societies have been struggling to overcome a long history of cultural colonization -- the fact that their theaters, libraries, and airwaves are dominated by the cultures which colonized them centuries ago. But they want to avoid retreating to mere nostalgia, creating an equally artificial culture which has nothing to say to the real conditions of contemporary life. They want to find the best ways to shape modernization when it comes. For instance, in the developing world, it's often not a question of how to reshape existing broadcasting systems, but how to develop mass media in the first place.

Means of Promoting Cultural Democracy

Among the primary means devised to realize the aims of cultural democracy is community animation.
In many community animation projects, an artist-organizer uses both artistic and organizing skills to help the members of a community discover and express their own cultural identities and exercise control over their own cultural development. Other kinds of cultural workers have also worked as animateurs of cultural life, to use the French term by which the practice is known in international circles (where animation is often called animation socio-culturelle or, adopting the British form, "socio-cultural community development"). Many examples of animation practice are described in Webster's World of Cultural Action and in the Guide to the Cultural Landscape.

Monday, March 14, 2011

The Climate for Cultural Democracy

There are many obstacles to seeing the goals of cultural democracy realized. What's most important for advocates of cultural democracy is to keep the big picture in mind.
The writer Carlos Fuentes has characterized ours as an era of "cultures as the protagonists of history." Around the globe, everywhere we look, we see evidence of cultures refusing to buckle under to the homogenizing influence of the imperial powers, be they political or corporate. The century now ending has seen the appearance of an ever-growing number of independent states, increasing visibility of ethnic and cultural groups within states, and a global revolt against the technocratic and anti-humane values of western-style development. This big picture -- both global and historical -- is essential to keeping one's hopes up for cultural democracy in this last depressing decade of the 20th Century.

How Is Policy Set?

Many approaches to making cultural policy are being used throughbout the U.S. and around the world. Specific descriptions of many of these appear in the deeper levels of Webster's World of Cultural Policy, which can be accessed through links at the end of this document. Here, we briefly describe the general processes involved in policy-making.
To make truly comprehensive cultural policy, three categories of action are required:
  1. processes to define cultural values, goals and priorities;

Friday, March 11, 2011

African Traditions

Tradtional African Dancers wearing masks
African Traditions are expressed through music, art, dance and sculpture...

African Tradition is expressed through many different art forms, such as music, dance, art, sculpture and beadwork.

These traditions are deeply ingrained into the whole African culture.

Many African languages are “tone languages,” meaning that pitch level determines meaning.

Naturally, singing is very important to the African society because the melody and rhythm follow the intonation of the song text. The songs are often sung in call-and-response form.

In West Africa, a griot is a praise singer or poet who possesses a repository of oral tradition passed down from generation to generation. They must know the traditional songs and must also be able to improvise songs about current events and chance incidents.

Oral tradition is very important in African culture, as it insures the passage of cultural practices from one generation to another.

Listening is an equally important skill, which has been perfected by the traditional oral practices. Numerous songs and dances have been transmitted by word of mouth.

Music is a form of communication and it plays a functional role in African society. Songs accompany marriage, birth, rites of passage, hunting and even political activities. Music is often used in different African cultures to ward off evil spirits and to pay respects to good spirits, the dead and ancestors.

Although the musical styles and instruments vary from region to region, there are some common forms of musical expression. The most significant instrument in African music is the African drum. It expresses the mood of the people and evokes emotion. The beat of the African drum is the “heartbeat of the community” and its rhythm is what holds the dancers together.

Dance is an integral part of the African culture. and it utilizes symbolic gestures, masks, costumes, body painting and props to communicate. The dance movements can be simple or complex with intricate actions including fast rotation, ripples of the body and contraction and release. Dance is used to express emotion, whether joyful or sorrowful and it is not limited to just the dancers. Often spectators will be encouraged to join in.

The African masks that are used in dances have religious, ceremonial and functional origins. The artist who carves the mask will ceremonially purify himself and offer prayers to his ancestors for guidance before he begins the actual carving of the mask.

The African mask represents a spirit and it is believed that the spirit possesses the dancer as they wear the mask. The chosen dancer goes into a trance-like state in order to receive guidance and wisdom from the ancestors. The dancer will utter and moan the messages received and a wise man, who accompanies the dancer will translate the message.

Although music and dance are extremely important African traditions and are very common forms of communication, many African people express themselves in other art forms as well.

The Zulu people are well known for their intricate beadwork. The colour of each bead carries a specific meaning. The beads have been used to carry messages known as “ucu,” a Zulu term loosely translated as “love letters”.

It is an African tradition for young girls to send a boy a beaded bracelet of different colours. The boy will court her for a while and at the appropriate time, he will ask her the meaning of the beads.

Art and sculpture are prevalent in African culture., and the most common themes depict a couple, a woman and child, a male with a weapon or animal, or a “stranger.”

Couples are usually freestanding figures of the same size, representing the importance of “two as one.” A male and female couple in African art usually depicts strength and honour rather than love and intimacy, as it is uncommon for African men and women to publicly display their affection.

A mother and child couple can represent “mother earth” and her people or the strong bond between mother and child.

The male figure with a weapon or animal, represent honour to departed ancestors. African men are often honoured in warfare and there is a great emphasis on weaponry in African art, as it depicts survival and power.

When the stranger is represented in African art, it usually depicts someone from a foreign country or tribe that is not welcomed.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Introduction to Africa, Government and Politics

African societies today have two levels of government: the indigenous organization, which pertains to local groups, and the national government of the independent nation-states. The relationship between the two levels is complex and has led to serious incompatibilities and conflicts.

It has become usual to classify the multitude of indigenous forms of African government into three main categories, conventionally known as bands, tribes, and kingdoms. Bands are relatively few and are limited to the societies with economies based on hunting and gathering, especially those of the Bushmen of the Kalahari and the foragers of the central African forests. Their economies require a low density of population and, therefore, its wide distribution over large areas, which inhibits permanent or large settlements. These bands are not found in total isolation but are interspersed with culturally different groups with distinct and complementary economies. Essentially, the bands are large kinship groups under the authority of family elders and shamanic ritual leaders.

Nigeria (Introduction)

Nigeria is one of the largest (923,768 km2) and geographically, socially and culturally most diversified African countries. It is the most populous country of Africa (the population estimated at 110 million in 1990), and potentially one of the richest. Richly endowed with human and natural resources, benefiting of a large internal market, Nigeria is, however, highly dependant on external economic sector, particularly oil revenues (93 per cent of exports in 1989). The domestic industry is import dependant. More then 60 per cent of population is employed in agriculture, which provides the bulk of Nigeria's food and raw materials supply and non-oil exports.

Rich resources, large internal market and human potentials did not prevent Nigeria from being a low income country with GDP per capita declining from about 1,000 US dollars in 1980 to about 250 dollars in 1990. The world oil crisis, poor agricultural development, and internal civil war are usually cited as the main reasons for such an economic decline.

General Directions of Cultural Policy

The rights and various attempts of the people of Nigeria to develop their culture have been supported by both the civilian and military governments and have been given consideration in the Nigerian Constitution. However, neither the systematized cultural policy, nor the set of main aims of cultural policies within the states have not been presented. Some of the clearly set directions of cultural policies are:
- analysis and understanding of the Nigerian cultural life, cultural values and cultural needs and expectations of people;

Administrative and Institutional Structures

Public or Semi-public Bodies

Ministry of Culture and Social Welfare has two departments responsible for administering and implementing cultural policies. The Federal Department of Culture is responsible for the formulation and execution of the national cultural policies, for the financing and promotion of all national cultural organizations and for international cultural relations. The National Council for Arts and Culture encourages and develops all aspects of Nigerian cultures and interacts with private or public organizations.

Other federal bodies partly involved in cultural life and policies are Ministry of Information and Ministry of Education.

Instruments of Cultural Policy

Financing and planning of cultural activities

Functioning of public and semi-public bodies dealing with culture, as well as the main inputs in cultural infrastructure such as building of museums, theaters, establishment of libraries etc. are mainly covered from the federal budget. This also stands for the organization of large events such as national or literary festivals organized by federal or state agencies of culture.

Planning of cultural activities or of the establishment of cultural infrastructure is linked to the budget provisions preparations. It hardly goes beyond an action or project planning. A general development plan of the country may provide for the construction of cultural infrastructure or for major cultural events. The project planning is restricted to either the local level, or, in the case of international cultural cooperation, fully complies with the provisions of the donor organization.