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Art Gallery the Eye and the Hand

Africa under colonial rule, 1880-1935

Research Director
Professor A. A. Boahen (Ghana)

In February 1976, in Nigeria, a man was arrested at a police checkpoint between Ibadan and Lagos. He was carrying two bags full of bronze sculptures and wood on suspicion of having stolen it affirmât well as the owner. Upon inquiry, the man telling the truth. Recently converted to Islam, he lived and worked in Ibadan at a community center. The effigies of deities carved Yoruba he was carrying had been brought in Ibadan, like many others, by migrant workers to satisfy the spiritual aspirations of these artisans, shopkeepers, civil servants and other migrant workers in their temporary residence. But the leader of the community, having converted to Islam, began in turn to convert their neighbors. Converted in his turn, the suspect heard himself served as symbols of their ancient faith were to disappear to allow the community center to become a dwelling worthy of the spiritual presence of Allah. Unable to consider destroying these objects, he resolved to return to his village, place of origin, where they have since been resettled.

This incident is a perfect example of the evolution of cultural forms and their concrete manifestation and at the same time, the survival or the renewal of cultural values from specific forms of domination, whether of a religious or more clearly social. What remained true in 1976 was even more common during this period particularly dramatic external domination of Africa, which saw the submission of an entire people, its social organization and its modes of economic behavior and artistic strategies of maximum exploitation by foreign interests. The slave trade had intensified turf wars for over two centuries, causing havoc cultural unprecedented. The punitive colonial forces, intolerance and misunderstanding of the missionaries, had all profoundly disrupted the cultural life of the continent. Of course, differences in methods of foreign domination and in relations with the African population inspired Africans displaced or elicited from them different cultural responses. It is generally considered that colonialism in Africa has experienced its most brutal in the Belgian and Portuguese colonies and colonists in British East Africa, encouraging the emergence of a type that can really describe African displaced person in the most literal sense of the word. The Arab penetration is unique because it has an ambiguous expansionism which nevertheless gave a strong impression on the cultural landscape. Anyway, the impression that withdraws from this period is that of resistance, even greater vitality of form and authentic cultural values of indigenous peoples.

The arts in Africa has the era of colonial domination
Wole Soyinka

African Art

It is difficult to assess the qualitative impact on business imperialists on artistic production. Obviously, certain types of activity were not affected, as is the case, for example, the technique of pearl Cameroon or religious sculpture of the Yoruba, Baule, Bakota, etc.., While others art forms, initiating a process of subtle transformation, both in form and in content. Thus, while retaining much of its subtle color, the mural art mbari the Ibo (Nigeria) began to know, in the hands of workers income cities, violent contrasts of color such as "pop art" which was explained by the sudden possibility of using a range of new colors and materials. Earlier this wall art was limited by the nature and the limited range of dyes manufactured locally.

It is significant that the annual festival Township Koumina (Department of Bobo-Dioulasso-Koumina) in Upper Volta administered by the French was marked by a feud between the "traditionalists" and "modernists", precisely on this issue dyes. The mask makers traditionalists prefer the old method of natural dyes, not only for reasons related to their visual appearance and texture, but because they felt that there must be an organic relationship between the materials of artistic production. Modernists believed not only that the colors were imported to use more convenient, but they offered a wider choice of possibilities. Adding that the festival of harvest, which brought together the smiths, weavers, dyers, sculptors, dancers and griots of all surrounding townships, including the famous musicians from Diagaso kare, offers another example of the persistence of collective creativity despite the process of disintegration community fostered by the grid imposed on employees by the colonial administrators. Each year at this event, at least by its unique importance, separated families found themselves in the main town for art by asserting the authenticity of their worldview.

Local crafts could hardly compete with the industrial production began to flood African markets at the beginning of colonization. The art object loses the integrative role that is hers in the normal development of the community, as evidenced by the decline of art and forowa kuduo, these containers Ashanti (Gold Coast - now Ghana ) delicately carved and decorated, as so often in Africa, ideograms expressing the conventional wisdom, proverbs or moral guidance or recalling historical events. As the weights used for gold, which could be said that the commercial utility began to decrease, forowa were still commonly used as snuff boxes, ointments, etc.. But their production was largely taken up by plants in Britain, which had the added advantage of having a wider choice of metals. Thus, Doran H. Ross (1) reports a forowa silver stamped "Birmingham 1926". However, nothing indicates that the ornamentation of canoes has experienced over the same period a similar weakening of the union of image and aesthetics of sentiment as well as the decoration of motorized vehicles, which had appeared in 1910, and that of woven fabrics, this decorative technique continued to perpetuate the community education strategy that could be described as "education movement."

African Architecture

Who did not just a passing glance, the plan, the exterior and interior of some of the most harmonious traditional huts revealed the existence of an architectural genius of the indigenous population able to speak in concrete forms and scholarly contrasting sharply with the provision of housing uniformly straight Africans enlisted in the Belgian and French plantations (especially). Andre Gide gives, rightly, a detailed description of these boxes in his Voyage au Congo (1927):

"The box Massa is like no other, it is true, but it is not only" strange ", she is beautiful and it's not as strange as her beauty that moves. A beauty so perfect If accomplished, it seems quite natural. No ornament, no overcharging. His pure curved line, which stops at the point of the base peak, as is mathematically inevitable or obtained; reckons there intuitively correct strength of the material . A little further north or south, clay, mixed with too much sand, no longer allow this momentum flexible, which ends with a circular opening through which only the inside of the box takes day, the manner of the Pantheon of Agrippa. Outside, amount of regular splines, where the foot can find support, focus and give life to these geometric shapes and are used to reach the top of the box, often high in September eight meters, they helped to build it without the help of scaffolding, this box is handmade as a vase is a work of non-mason, but potter ...

"Inside the box a freshness that seems to reign when it comes from delicious outside ablaze. Above the door, like some huge keyhole, a sort of shelf-columbarium, which are arranged vases and household objects. The walls are smooth, shiny, varnished. Opposite the entrance, a sort of drum top, earth, very nicely decorated with geometric motifs in relief, intaglio, painted white, red and black : these are rice chests. Their land cover is luted with clay, top, completely smooth, seems like a drumhead. Instruments fishing, ropes and tools hanging on pegs; sometimes a bundle of spears, a shield in woven reed. In a half-day of Etruscan tomb, the family lived there during the hottest hours of the day and at night the cattle came to join: oxen, goats and chickens, each beast reserved his corner, and everything stays in its place, everything is clean, precise, ordered. No communication with the outside, as soon as the door is closed. We're home ... " (2)

If we do not claim that all dwellings African time could lead to the same lyrical in travelers, it is regrettable that the planners of the time so rarely have seen fit to draw lessons from this structural traditional architecture.

We continued to develop the city as either copies or adaptations of the model provided by European urban planning or, as we have already said, according to a rigid grid pattern that contributed to depersonalize the African and to stifle its sensitivity Community. It must be recognized that traditional dwellings managed to fit between the foreign structures that were beginning to invade the landscape. Even in the intensely urbanized core of the main cities of the Belgian Congo (now DRC), Senegal, the Gold Coast (now Ghana), Nigeria, Angola, etc.., Traditional neighborhoods dating from the nineteenth century remain still dominated by the mass of concrete buildings. They have generally centered on the community well. Circular or rectangular veranda overlooking a courtyard and a number of family houses are sheltered by a roof and have a common drainage system that collects and evacuates the wastewater into open drains of the main streets. Even when it comes to homes more than one level, the organization of space and the relationship between the plans show the same qualities liberating. In this context the contribution of those who, Brazil, returning in Africa has been immense. Even in small towns of the interior, isolated cases of arrest or development of traditional architecture from that period still give a sense of frustration at these achievements which creativity manifests itself in the appearance Now more and more useful. Modern African cities constantly remind us that their environment has never been changed according to the wishes of the inhabitants, but at the discretion of the colonizers, with all the consequences that entailed alienating and which were felt even in the production of other art forms, influenced by urban planning, such as mural painting, sculpture, music, etc..

African music

Authentic African popular music continues to remind us the undisputed place of this medium as a source of cultural regeneration of the will of the continent. The "rooms" have played a role in this regard clear, with few exceptions, the music has had on the coast of West Africa the same fate as in parts of southern Africa with which European civilization had Contacts increasingly close during the last quarter century. The process was the same: the responsibility of educating the "natives" was left to missionaries who created schools and, using the carrot and the stick (with more or less sporadic intervention of expeditionary forces), the bait trade, in addition to various irrefutable demonstration of higher levels of education converts, had no trouble filling them with younger students, whose mood ranged from enthusiastic to reluctant.

It is useless to revert to the teaching of children in this harvest, however, it would be wrong to imagine that the process of cultural reorientation applied only to students enrolled. Cape Gambia, only the details differ:

"... Two musicians of Natal, Mr. and MAE Ganney Rolland, who formed a choir comprising fourteen members of Zulu, had taught them to sing Glees (singing three or four parts), guns and ballads from England instead of native songs. The quality of their performance was deemed satisfactory enough to warrant a concert tour in South Africa and later in England. There, at least five members of the choir left and fell into disrepute in accepting wages more attractive for music hall in London. We know nothing else of the Zulu choir from 1892, but it was the forerunner of many African choirs that have been given excellent performances of European works. "(3)

There is probably a link between the above and the fact that two years ago, the public of Durban was an appetite for the exotic music by the invasion of a troop of black singers from the United States of America had been charmed by his "a cappella interpretations of tunes to hits like My Old Kentucky Home, Old Black Joe, Jingle Bells ... and especially by the richness of authentic black voice after so many poor imitations. (4)

The author does not clearly rendered account of irony, judging by the lines that had already inspired the musical career of another resident of Durban:

"The musical activity of William Swift extended to musicology, and in his spare time, he went to the Zulu kraals listen to the songs he sang native then the violin who accompanied him on all his travels. He gave concerts where he sang some twenty-four tunes he had collected and, crudely referred to as "Kaffir songs." (5)

The "Kaffir songs" performed by W. Swift in front of European audiences in the elegant salons of Durban were of course sung in the same period in physical conditions, spiritual, economic and social can not be more different. In Kuyu Central African songs of this type were used to invoke the lifeblood of the community at ceremonies such as planting and harvesting, or rites of death and fertility. (Obviously there is every reason to believe that few Europeans have managed to collect authentic songs really sacred of these populations.) But what interests us here is the role and social function of music because it ' is that it allows better than any other form of artistic expression, to immediately grasp the lived cultural reality of a people (6). Kuyu when, for example, performed continuously from dusk to dawn a series of songs, dances and mimes symbolic funeral of a farmer known for his exceptional ability to cultivate cassava, there was a presence affirmation of the continuity of life, or even a concrete evocation of economic survival for the living. Gestures and words were designed intentionally to convey science to the living magic of the deceased, at the same time, vocal and gestural explosion induced a catharsis of the whole community, the serving of his grief and gave strength to him can continue to fight for its survival. The music went beyond mere "songs."

The music also contributes to understanding the profound and mysterious. Her twin sister, eloquence, has always been in every community an excellent means of official communication and social, including matters relating to politics and justice. There is no need to recall its importance in the war. However, we can consider that the combination of music and eloquence under formal judicial structures is another characteristic of cultures where the music is not an isolated social phenomenon, but an integrated activity. The Idoma north-eastern Nigeria were accustomed to use in their argument a procedure semi-choral essentially theatrical. On a background consisting of the responses of the choir, the parties presented their arguments as real actors, in turn leaving the backstage semicircular consists assistance to plunge it again. The actions were a deliberate theatricality, fully calculated, even for the most outlandish effects. The trial could last two days a week. In Watussi, litigation involving the same use of theatrical techniques. A. Merriam describes a scene typical of the attitude of the people Bambala vis-à-vis a pervasive colonial power gradually brought together in his hands all the levers of society.

This contemporary reality expressed in various ways in the cultural repertoire that she can never without compromising the functioning of artistic expression:

First litigant. I was home and I would have liked to stay there. But he has come and wants to discuss the matter publicly. So I left my home and that's why you see me here. [Sung] "I'm like a cricket. I sing, but the earthen wall around me stopping me. Somebody got me out of my hole, so I'll sing." Let's discuss the matter but slowly, slowly, otherwise we will go to court white. You forced me to come. When the sun will set we will still be talking, [sung] "I'm like the dog is left outside the door until we gave him a bone."

Second litigant. Nobody can go in two directions at once. You said this and that. One of them is necessarily false. That is why I attack you. [Sung] "A thief talking to another thief.'s Because you're bad I attack you." (7)

It should certainly make sense of trends in romance, to indulge in extravagant ethnic and other forms of sentimentality and prejudice, but we can not deny the place of music in the lives of African peoples . According to a contemporary musician Shona: "Much of the history of Africa was sent to us by [...] song. When we play the mbira and sung, we see the scenes unfold bygone times and figures vague and surrounded dream of the past become clearer in our modern age. You can almost see his ancestors back limping among the living ... " (8)

What we wrote about the Malian griot companies, Senegal, Gambia and Guinea, not only as a facilitator of the festivities, but also as a witness, historian and cultural critic is also widely Shona musician, whose instrument, the mbira (another name for senza) inspired the comments quoted above. The griot is widely celebrated in the epic written by a Black American descendant of slaves who returned to Gambia there are less than ten years trying to trace his ancestors (9). If one moves from the realm of the griot, in western Sudan, the Central and Southern Africa, we find its equivalent, but the epic of survival there is an even more violent and unstable. Even in southern Africa, where they were part yet in the context of the epic empire-builders, with all its attendant episodes of aggressive and violent, the fifty years from the turn of the century were particularly rough and marked by many an upheaval brutal to people.

The mbira has survived this process of cultural fragmentation and she even managed to create among its followers identity of culture with a whole system of social stratification of the religious and the secular. The peregrinations of the Shona forced between Cape Town and Central Africa have resulted in particular it is now difficult to decide how their musical instruments - even the social functions of their music - was introduced in neighboring countries (the Mozambique, Northern Rhodesia [now Zambia], Tanganyika [now Tanzania], the two Congo [now Democratic Republic of Congo and Congo PR], and Uganda) where the practice of this instrument was widespread, rather than 'Southern Rhodesia, where most of the Shona eventually concentrate at the turn of the century. What is certain is that culture centered around the mbira became the hyphen dispersed populations and survived their incessant and extensive fragmentation.

The Shona mbira regarded as the gift of great ancestral spirit Chaminuka was, it seems, a royal history of the beginning of the early nineteenth century. The music was an integral part of social life, she had penetrated to the verge of becoming indispensable companion for various activities such as healings, marriages, funerals, plowing, childbirth, initiation rites and a host of other events. It was believed that the instrument itself was "able to project its sound into the sky and to establish a link with the spirit world," thus creating a link between the activities and thoughts of the living and the spirit of the ancestors .

Those who played were sedentary or mobile, they do not always occur by invitation, but it cites the case of famous mbira players engaged and going to places hundreds of miles apart either because of their reputation, either because we felt that their style was best suited for a specific purpose - usually coming into a trance medium. We can see that it has maintained, beyond geographical boundaries, cultural cohesion of a community. Mbira ceremonies that lasted throughout the night and began with the entry into trance medium to continue with recreational activities such as purely social dancing, singing, poetry recitals (including comedy) and mime have rightly been described as "long travel community after night." Out of his trance, the medium could also pronounce judgments on disputes and give advice on matters of common interest - sowing, harvesting - and even politics.

In its many forms, the mbira is a valuable indicator of the internal evolution of the musical cultures of Africa. The basic instrument, a sound box with plucked strings which borrows from the calabash its classic form, this course dozens of variants. The main form is the mbira Huru dzadzima regarded as the "mbira of all ancestors," being an instrument of great ancestor Chaminuka itself. This is the form that the instrument was introduced to the Transvaal by the Shona Ndebele during the exodus to the South in the late nineteenth century, shortly before they are sent back to the North by the beginning of European penetration into inside. The same version was used by the Venda and the Lemba in South Africa and the Karanga ethnic group in the southern part of Northern Rhodesia during the same period. Basically, the dzadzima must have known a rule at least half a century since it was described for the first time in a cartoon published by Charles Livingstone and Davis in 1865.

However, in the early twentieth century, a cult rival, Mashaw, using the version of the mbira njira, made its appearance in countries of the Shona. In less than a decade, this version had begun to supplant the other. Frequently accompanied by drums and even flutes, njira began to experience a certain preference, especially at events such as weddings, births, etc.. Adherents of both schools were even designated by the names of their respective instruments - the Vamba for followers of the dzadzima the Njanja for those of njira. This ethnic division eventually match geographical distribution, affecting subtle social behavior, but without breaking the cultural unity of the followers of the mbira.

The testimony of missionaries like those explorers confirm the quality of the "emotion" triggered by the collective mbira. They compare the sound of the instrument than the sitar, harpsichord and spinet. (10) According to similar accounts, the song is reminiscent of the emotional atmosphere of nostalgic Fado Portuguese settlers in South America. Whatever the language, it seems that the experience of exile produce identifiable musical connections.

Unlike many other forms of social music, African mbira music was not a court, but a true music of the people, all of the dispersed community. The respect enjoyed by its performers in the community and enjoyed their art was being explained because they were considered the artistic mediators from the other world and that their readiness and competence had is the symbol of ethnic cohesion during a period of violent upheaval. And these musicians were so masters of their art that despite their initial hostility expected, the missions themselves were eventually won. During the 1920s, the mbira-like instruments began to make a tentative appearance in the orchestras of religious Southern Rhodesia. Experimental compositions based on melodies of the mbira, had crept into the seasonal festivals of the missions and the time had passed when some pupils were being expelled if they were caught playing the "instrument of devil "at recess.

Whether within or outside the mission, the fact remains that the role of social integration of the music remained the most characteristic of the cultural life of the African continent. Spiritual intercessor or entertainer, historian, courtier or the service of a privileged class, the musician played a vital cultural role.

Performing Arts

The performing arts were often an extension or an illustration of the music, some of the above examples show very well how difficult it is to delineate these two art forms. However, the evolution of theatrical forms in the nineteenth century in contact with outside influences illustrates better than how the music moves from a traditional mode to modes adapted. Thus we see arise on the coast of West Africa a real dramatization, shifting shapes and locations under the combined assault of the banned Islamic and Christian evangelism, this in turn reinforced by the influence of former slaves in Sierra related Leone and Liberia forms of entertainment, manners, values, customs and idioms of their countries of exile. (11)

Professional theater - secular form after performances with masks for the funeral rites of kings - was something permitted in the old Oyo empire of Nigeria during the nineteenth century. The disintegration of the empire at the hands of the Fulani from the north and the ravages of civil war with southern rebels were vassals to effect simultaneous dispersion professional troops in the South and beyond the borders of Dahomey (now Benin) and their disappearance in their place of origin. The victorious Muslims banned most forms of theatrical and, especially, those associated with festivals of ancestors, where the human figure was represented, which is forbidden by Islam.

The political upheavals in the empire Oyo, where theater groups had enjoyed the protection afforded by a stable monarchy, do not long favored the dissemination (and secularization) of theater. Already, the missionaries had begun to move north from their first foothold on the coast, usually shortly before the commercial backed by military force. (12) Missionaries parachevèrent undertaking Islam restraining their followers to participate in any religion whatsoever. Now theater companies were managed as family guild, where trade secrets and initiation rites were common; themes were also strictly traditional - all reasons to equate the theater to a sinister and evil cult. Christian missionaries, like Muslims, were not content only to prohibit performances: as the mbira in Southern Africa, the instruments associated with the theatrical arts were strictly forbidden. He created a void that came to occupy the culture of former slaves. Trafficking has contributed to the religious conversion of the west coast at the same time it undermined cultural life. Missions and their spheres of influence, as in Southern Africa, providing security as well as submission to the Lord Muslim, with the inevitable price the renunciation of all true art. The cycle of cultural substitution ended, after breaking the cultural life of the population, slavery moribund expatriates brought with a new culture to replace the old (13).

But the victory was not so simple. The theater "pagan" and resisted the onslaught, not content to maintain its own forms, turned deliberately basis of resistance to Christian culture. It had been so strong that it participated in various forms to experiments made by the colonial elite to build a theater signifier. For in the last quarter of the nineteenth century, the west coast was under the influence of artistic exiles who returned to Christianity, confident in the superiority of the culture they had learned and eager to prove to the white settlers who now dominate their existence that blacks were able not only to welcome but also to practice the fine art of Europeans. The result was a happy complication despite the conscious effort by which they cut off culturally indigenous peoples of the hinterland, they remained "firmly and comfortably attached to their own customs and institutions" (14).

The new theatrical forms (Euro-American) due mainly to the initiative of expatriates returned to Liberia, Senegal and Sierra Leone diffused from west to east, as enriched by new contributions. Debased form of vaudeville of "Nova Scotians" as is designated themselves exiled from the former Sierra Leone, after winning a lasting success along the coast, must have known, through its distribution eastward Gold Coast, Dahomey and Nigeria, a transformation in both its form and in content. It is no exaggeration to say that the early years of the twentieth century, an entirely new form of entertainment was born in West Africa: the concert party, after shows "good form" for the urban middle class ( 15), they were rude jokes and even generously seasoned with bawdy songs of longshoremen, all sweetened for members of the aristocracy of colonial administrative centers were located in the releases.

Of the "academies" were formed to give concerts on the model of Victorian music hall or vaudeville U.S.. Christian churches organized their own performances and fashion ends up winning schools, concerts for the prize, to visit the district manager for the anniversary of Queen Victoria, etc.. Black missionaries would not be outdone - the Reverend Samuel Ajayi Crowther left a famous example of protecting black bishop, so remarkable, and encouraging the art form, however, that the Rev. James Johnson turned the famous Church Breadfruit, Lagos in a real theater (16). Those who returned from Brazil brought the familiar and yet exotic flavor of music that was a spontaneous echo in the traditional melodies of the West Coast and Congo, as repression in the cities was not long enough to make them fully forget. At the turn of the century and the early decades of the twentieth century, the Christmas and New Year was an opportunity to organize in the streets of Freetown and Lagos performances reminiscent fiestas to Latin America, and whose caretta, sort of satirical farce (17), seems to have been the most durable.

However, proponents of cultural nationalism were constantly fighting against the danger of total destruction by forms imported. (18) Once again, this resistance leaned on religion and its institutions. The unacceptable excesses of Christian cultural imperialism, such as the prohibition of African instruments and songs in church "universal" can provoke dissent. From 1882 until early 1930, there has been a proliferation of secessionist movements inspired by the desire to worship God according to the cultural mode practiced by the ancestors. (19) It is established while in West Africa, particularly in Lagos, a unique tradition of "opera" that begins with religious cantatas and passes through the dramatization of Bible stories before asserting its independence with the demise of religious themes and the gradual establishment of itinerant professional troupes. This process is the same as that seen in theater Adbegijo while temporarily on hold: After the funeral rites of the sacred Alasin oyo empire, he became a court entertainment before acquiring an independent existence and expand its geographical base. Between the big concerts of classical music and English folk songs given by the "Academy" in the 1880s and the representation of the historical play King Elejigbo given by the Egbe Ife Church Dramatic Society in 1902, there had undeniable transformation of ideas and sensitivity, even among the Westernized elites of southern Nigeria. The Church, who did not see this phenomenon in a positive light, decided to prohibit its parishes and schools to this new art form, but did not succeed, unfortunately for her, to expedite construction by challenge , room only theater-oriented. The conflict pitted actually factions of the colonial elite who enjoyed almost the same resources. In 1912, the secularization of the drama was sufficiently advanced for the colonial administration in Lagos to announce the publication of a "cease regulating theaters and public performances" which subordinated the licensing authority of play in public. In the climate of cultural nationalism that prevailed in Lagos at the time, it is questionable whether this attempt would be hypocritical to censor political success: it is significant that this ordinance was never enacted.

The troops of "vaudeville" prospered. The names of groups that we meet in the Gold Coast (20) for example, in a show like Two Bobs and Their Carolina girl, speak volumes about the inspiration of many. This is a schoolteacher named Yalley ascribed authorship of vaudeville varieties in the Gold Coast. His student Bob Johnson, with its Axim Trio, was soon to surpass his master to become a celebrity culture of the Gold Coast and even the whole western coast. (21) is the innovations of Bob Johnson as was the tradition of concert party in the Gold Coast, with troops specialized in issues of music hall songs, jokes, dances, imitations, comic scenes. But in terms of cultural continuity, their most important contribution was to move to the forefront of contemporary repertoire a traditional character of folklore, the trickster and wily Ananse (the spider). Not only is this form of dramatic expression lends itself to many situations pure comedy, but it soon became an instrument of social and political satire.

In the mid 1930s, Bob Johnson was famous enough to show his vaudeville act in other cities in West Africa. During this decade, the region boasted a repertoire that is one of the most bizarre examples of eclectic theater history. Even the cinema, then in its infancy, had already left his mark on the scene in West Africa - some numbers from Bob Johnson were adaptations of the comedies of Charlie Chaplin, including the costume and the famous approach. And today we have lost contact with the historical realities of West Africa during the colonial era, one can not help but marvel at such a concert of Empire Day when you could hear during an evening of songs like Mini the Moocher, a presentation on The Gospel of the Lord in our Church and a skit on the life of a longshoreman Liberia.

And here is another example of the irony of colonization while Bob Johnson was preparing his first tour in West Africa and Hubert Ogunde, who became the principal organizer of concert party of Nigeria, was his aesthetic education under the influence a clergyman father and a grandmother osugbo priestess of the cult (22), Senegal, a European teacher, Charles Béart, undertook to reverse the policy of European acculturation in a secondary school reputation. Better understood the importance of this event and also the reason why the shift was so slow, if one recalls the nature of educational assimilationism as expressed in various ways in the writings Africans convinced Francophile like Father Boillat (23), Paul Holle, etc.. Although it seems to have engaged in extensive sociological research, Father Boillat concluded after studying the culture, philosophy, social structure, language, etc.., The Bambara, Sarakolé, Wolof, Serer, Toucouleur and Moors of Senegal, the African society offered no prospect of cultural development in the modern sense and had no other future than the contemplation of "the collapse of all these gross habits, if not shameful, is called custom of the country. " If the communications made by Boillat the metropolis did not become the cornerstone of French policy of assimilation, they have undoubtedly played a role in its formulation.

It was in this atmosphere and in the decades of conservatism that followed the school William Ponty was born and enjoyed a prolonged existence. (24) This famous normal school played the same role in francophone Africa as Achimota College in Anglophone West and Makerere College in East Africa. All these institutions were designed to provide a European education as a basis for future teachers and minor officials. Cultural values taught at school William Ponty were necessarily French - whether drama, poetry, music, art, history or sociology. However, Charles Béart, during the years when he was head of the school, undertook to give a new orientation to the cultural education of students. From 1930, they were encouraged to immerse themselves in their own environment to determine their cultural choices. Students were entrusted with research that allowed them to explore both the form and content of Aboriginal art. After the holidays, we asked the groups from all colonial territories represented at the William Ponty School to present a theatrical performance based on their research, students themselves assuming full responsibility for its implementation. As this new form of sociological theater was not limited to the usual audience of European officials and Africans "educated" nor solely Senegal, its influence spread widely in the different strata of French-speaking Africa. She was provided an authentic extension of the culture it came from?

We are obliged to answer in the negative although the experience was not devoid of instruction. It would have been futile to hope that during this period, the "classical" model of the French theater could disappear completely before the traditional forms of expression. The "community" represented by William Ponty was artificial. It was as remote from the nature of his thought as its cultural objectives of the society it looted cultural treasures. Of course, this situation was not unique to William Ponty, but it was common in all schools and other institutions created by the colonizer to perform its own mission in Africa. The scene of William Ponty thus served mainly to appease the need for exotic community of French settlers. Even when he "went to the people" and used the themes, the theater remained a curiosity without real contact with social life and authentic cultural values of the population.


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