Theatre, Drama, and Performance in Post-apartheid South Africa
Edited By Greg Homann and Marc Maufort
Spectacles of Participation: Performing amaXhosa Authenticity at the National Arts Festival of South Africa
← 288 | 289 → Spectacles of Participation
Performing amaXhosa Authenticity at the National Arts Festival of South Africa1
Anton KRUEGER and Zoë REEVE
The National Arts Festival [NAF] of South Africa takes place every year in the small university town of Grahamstown, which is named after its founder, Colonel John Graham. In 1811, Graham was sent from the United Kingdom specifically commissioned to clear the land for English settlement. He went about this task by evicting 20,000 amaXhosa, burning down their farms and killing women and children, before building a barracks on which he then founded the town which was to bear his name. Graham’s campaign was unapologetically brutal, and he once wrote that “The only way of getting rid of [the amaXhosa] is depriving them of the means of subsistence and continually harassing them” (Smith 45). Lt-General John Cradock famously praised Graham for succeeding in his mission by having employed “a proper degree of terror” (Thompson 55).
In 1966, just over 150 years after it was founded, Grahamstown became the heart of the 1820 Settlers Foundation, and an arts festival was created to celebrate the English settlers and their culture (Grundy 387). In 1980 the festival added the word “national” to its title, even though, as Grundy points out “the programmes were hardly representative of the cultural richness and diversity of South Africa” (389). A survey taken in 2006 showed the following breakdown of...
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