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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:The colonial experience and its asides: dance performances as historical indices in East and West Africa
Author:Layiwola, 'DeleISNI
Periodical:African Notes: Bulletin of the Institute of African Studies, University of Ibadan
Geographic term:Subsaharan Africa
Abstract:This paper examines the behavioural aspects of several representative dance performances in the colonial context in West and East Africa between 1820 and 1960. The content of performances, as well as the form of costume and the paraphernalia adopted by performers are discussed. The author looks in particular at the traditional East African 'ngoma' or group dances which, in 1899, at the inception of colonial rule in East Africa, incorporated the style of the European brass band. Henceforth they were referred to as the 'beni' or 'band' 'ngoma'. They also annexed the form and nature of the European military hierarchy. Drawing on Lacan and Freud, as well as Anya Peterson Royce's insight that dance is 'an excellent vehicle for communicating ideas about one's own identity as well as for parodying the identity of others', the author refutes Terence Ranger's analysis, in his 'Dance and society in East Africa 1890-1970: the beni ngoma' (1975), that the simulation of military power as practised in 'beni' is an adjustment to absolute power or a state of intellectual emasculation. He argues that the practice of the dance band is an aesthetic derivative, rather than a passive acceptance of an overwhelming colonial experience, a form of protest, ostensibly devious in its approach, a social rite of exorcism, whereby social malaise was criticized and individual emotion purged of its destructive content. Ref.