Tag: Cape Town

HISTORY: Smithsonian Museum to Display Artifacts from Sunken Slave Ship

Slave ship plans
Engraving of the stowage plans of the Liverpool slave ship Brooks. (Photograph: PoodlesRock/Corbis)

The Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture will display objects from a slave ship that sank off the coast of Cape Town in 1794, it announced today.

The artifacts were retrieved this year from the wreck site of a Portuguese slave ship that sank on its way to Brazil while carrying more than 400 enslaved Africans from Mozambique. Objects recovered from the ship, called the São José-Paquete de Africa, include iron ballasts used to weigh the ship down and copper fastenings that held the structure of the ship together.

height.630.no_border.width.1200Lonnie G. Bunch III, the director of the African American history museum, said in a statement that the ship “represents one of the earliest attempts to bring East Africans into the trans-Atlantic slave trade”.

“This discovery is significant because there has never been archaeological documentation of a vessel that foundered and was lost while carrying a cargo of enslaved persons,” he said.

The National Museum of African American History and Culture is currently under construction in Washington and scheduled to be completed in the fall.

The objects from the slave ship are to be on a long-term loan to the Smithsonian from the Iziko Museums of South Africa. Officials have known the site of the wreck for a number of years and suspected the ship was a slave ship, but research only recently confirmed it.

About half of the people on board the ship died when it sank. Others made it to shore but were sold back into slavery, according to the Smithsonian.

article via theguardian.com

OPERA: South African Isango Ensemble Reimagines Mozart’s “The Magic Flute” at New Victory Theater

Pauline Malefane, foreground, of the Isango Ensemble in a reimagining of Mozart’s opera “The Magic Flute” at the New Victory Theater. (EMON HASSAN FOR THE NEW YORK TIMES)

Less glockenspiel, more drumming! A very different sort of “The Magic Flute” took the stage at the New Victory Theater on Sunday afternoon in front of an attentive and appreciative family audience. This two-hour adaptation of Mozart’s fairy tale opera was presented under the Xhosa title “Impempe Yomlingo” by the South African Isango Ensemble, a company that recruits performers from townships in the Cape Town area and presents classics from the Western canon in an updated, African context.

But perhaps “updated” isn’t quite the right word: In the program notes, the show’s director, Mark Dornford-May, relates a myth from the Tsonga tradition about the andlati birds that live high in the mountains and cause terrifying storms and lightning. Only a hero brave enough to seek them out with a magic flute can appease them and avert destruction.

“The story may never have reached Mozart, but the similarities are fascinating nonetheless,” Mr. Dornford-May writes. “Who knows? Maybe one of the greatest pieces of European opera had its roots and inspiration in a South African folk tale.”

Certainly, few productions can match the colorful exuberance and pulsating energy of this “Flute,” or field as versatile a cast as this, in which every member sings, dances and drums. The bare set evokes a township square. The traditional orchestra is replaced by eight marimbas, supplemented by an array of percussion, including djembes, oil barrels, hand clapping and — standing in for Papageno’s glockenspiel — suspended water bottles of graduated pitches. Tamino’s flute is a trumpet, played with jazzy vigor by Mandisi Dyantyis, the ensemble’s co-music director and conductor.

The vocal performances were a testament to South Africa’s deep pool of singing talent. The notes were all there — Pauline Malefane courageously scaled the heights of the Queen of the Night’s arias; Mhlekazi Mosiea was a dignified Tamino; Ayanda Eleki, a proud, patriarchal Sarastro — even if there were times when they audibly strained the limits of the singers’ technique. But the cast offered portrayals with ample personality and charisma, among them Zolina Ngejane’s superfeisty Pamina and Zamile Gantana’s bon-vivant Papageno.

But this African “Flute” is, above all, a story of community, and the music, too, is at its most convincing where it draws on South Africa’s glorious choral tradition. If that means taking liberties with Mozart’s score, fine: Tamino’s taming of Monostatos and his posse of slaves suffers no injury by the infusion of a bit of calypso rhythm. The celebrations that greet Sarastro’s first appearance — complete with ululating women — are a jubilant riot.

The communal aspect also raises the stakes for the lovers’ trials, which are presented as a series of tribal initiation rites, with Tamino’s face painted white, like that of a tribal youngster embarking on a circumcision ritual. In traditional productions, this is often the part of the opera where the tension slackens, but in this post-apartheid setting, the young people’s quest for dignity, wisdom and reconciliation is shown to be of vital importance to everyone.

New Cape Town Museum to Focus on Contemporary African Art

???????A new museum that will house the largest collection of contemporary African art on the continent, will open in 2016 in the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront in Cape Town, it was announced last week.

The institution will be known as the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa, in honor of the German art collector Jochen Zeitz, who is providing the museum’s founding collection. It will be in the historic grain silo in the waterfront district, a prime residential and commercial area and tourist hub.

The creation of the museum will be financed by the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront development project, which is contributing 500 million South African rand (about $50 million) to the transformation of the 187-foot tall grain silo, built in 1921. The architect will be announced in February.

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‘Africa’s Next Top Model’: Tyra Banks Expands Her ANTM Empire To Africa

africas next top model

According to Huff Post Black Voices, Tyra Banks is expanding “Top Model” empire by producing “Africa’s Next Top Model” this fall.  Africa is now the fourth continent to adopt ANTM’s highly successful model search-meets-reality show concept.  Banks has tapped Nigerian model Oluchi Onweagba Orlandi (pictured above) to serve as the series’ host and co-producer.

“The African version of the franchise is long overdue and I expect the show to be a smashing success across the continent,” Oluchi said in a release.  Twelve young women will be chosen from eight countries throughout Africa, and, like the U.S. version, the model hopefuls will compete in a number of photo shoots and challenges over the course of ten episodes to see who makes it to the top.  No judges have been announced yet, but production will begin in August in Cape Town, South Africa.

article by Lori Lakin Hutcherson and Lesa Lakin

Desmond Tutu Wins 2013 Templeton Prize With $1.7 Million Award

Desmond Tutu Templeton

Desmond Tutu was named this year’s winner of the 2013 Templeton Prize.

Desmond Tutu, the former Anglican archbishop of Cape Town who rose to international fame as he helped lead the fight against apartheid in South Africa in the 1970s and 1980s, was named the 2013 Templeton Prize winner Thursday.  The honor, which comes with a $1.7 million award, is given annually by the West Conshohocken, Penn.-based John Templeton Foundation. It has, in recent years, been awarded to academics who work at the nexus of religion and science.

Tutu is being awarded for his promotion of what the foundation calls “spiritual progress,” including love, forgiveness and human liberation, especially after the fall of apartheid when he chaired South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission. The commission addressed tensions between perpetrators of the apartheid state and reformers, and granted amnesty on both sides to hundreds of requests out of thousands that were submitted. It is considered key to the nation’s democratic transition in the 1990s.

“When you are in a crowd and you stand out from the crowd it’s usually because you are being carried on the shoulders of others,” Tutu said in response to receiving the prize in a video on the Templeton website. “I want to acknowledge all the wonderful people who accepted me as their leader at home and so to accept this prize, as it were, in a representative capacity.”

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Ellinah Wamukoya Becomes Africa’s First Anglican Woman Bishop

Earlier this month, the Anglican Church of Southern Africa consecrated its first woman bishop in Africa.

Ellinah Wamukoya, 61, will serve as the church’s bishop in the small, conservative kingdom of Swaziland.

Her consecration comes as the Church of England is due to vote on whether to allow women to become bishops.

“We have taken this step, and we wish the Church of England ‘God speed’ as they deliberate this week,” Cape Town’s Anglican archbishop said.

The Most Revd Thabo Makgoba of Cape Town said in a statement: “The thunder is rumbling as I write: We have witnessed a great occasion, and now it does indeed seem that the heavens are about to fall upon us – the falling of rain, which this country and its people so desperately need.

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The Good Things Black People Do, Give and Receive All Over The World
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