Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Lost in Translation

If one had to inspire a whole generation by reminding them of who they are, at the same time translating an inconvenient truth about the past and present, how best could you do it?
This was the task at hand for the African National Congress and its new dispensation in South Africa marked on 8 Jan: celebrations of 100 years of the liberation movement/ struggle. The celebrations most likely where felt only in Bloemfontein, the Free State city was the host and the place where the historic formation of the ANC began; notably far from the euphoria that was felt when Nelson Mandela was released from Robben Island. In those days you simply felt the atmospheric buzz and an energy that took over for days, South Africans were full of hope and had a sense of an overwhelming victory.

The centenary of ANC's existence comes at a time when the ruling party in government is experiencing rive factionalism within its organization and marred by corruption coupled with mismanagement of tax payer's money. As a result a spring of service delivery protests reached their all time high in 2011, and likely to continue in 2012 as more and more South Africans living in poverty and despicable conditions without basics, are growing ever impatient with the ruling party.
But perhaps this is nowhere near the real rot of the "fruit of the pie"! What can be termed as "lost in translation' is seen in how the ANC, at a cost of R 100 m sought to inspire the people of South Africa at the Centenary celebrations. Where did it all begin and more importantly where is this Titanic ship sectioned into upper class and poor class, where the upper class are enjoying most of the ship's delights amongst a few and the bulk of the poor are cramped at the bottom sharing left overs.

National pride
 The proceedings of the Centenary celebrations kicked off with a service at the Wesleyan Church in Waaihoek, where the ANC was founded in 1912 known then as the South African Native National Congress.
This ceremony was followed by a formal address at a stadium and ended with musical play and act called Tshihumbudzo (the remembrance), which quite literally related the story of the ANC. The musical play meant to tell the story of 100 years in 100 minutes failed dismally to live up to the moment, and can be easily categorised as the worst theatrical display for a 21st century African audience. Tshihumbudzo lacked depth or a core theme,  loosely directed with very little creativity in set design, props and costumes.

Instead the most that was achieved out of this rushed musical was an overbearing cliched euro centric image of South Africans, failing to even distinguish time lines through spoken language and dress code, but most appallingly a complete disregard for cultural heritage and what it truly means to be a South African today.
Mirror our cultural heritage

A missed opportunity, this turns out to be for the ANC, leaving alot to be desired and more questions than answers. @PAYT embraces culture and employs ways to discover African heritage through discovery and an artistic expression of the indigenous. Tshihumbudzo should have explored a basic but yet powerful approach and theme to translate the historic by sampling the very man whose words inspired the inception of the ANC, Pixley Isaka Seme when he said "Forget all differences among Africans and unite in one national organization. Key words being Africanism and Unity @peace,love & understanding>>

What does it mean to be African?

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