Hurray! Africa Umoja returns
THEY have to come back! Their electrifying two-night performance in Accra in May last year, which left patrons virtually begging for more, Africa Umoja simply have to come back for more.
So from Saturday April 30 to Monday May 2 this year, the South African stage musical group return to the National Theatre to flaunt yet another session of “…well choreographed dances, excellent footwork and breathtaking harmonious acapella songs.”
This time round, producers Charterhouse have given a hint that the group may share the stage with Ghanaian dancers.
Umoja, the stage musical is packed with act after act of vibrant enactment of South Africa’s extraordinary musical history. On the one hand, it is very exhilarating while on the other hand, it is insightful and expressive.
The performance highlights the gradual progression of South African music from traditional music through gospels to forms of music developed by miners as a form of entertainments right down to kwaito and now hiphop. All this is topped off with a good sense of humour that leaves patrons gaping for breath.
Patrons to last year’s show must still have memories of the energetic dance moves that reverberated through out the National Theatre long after the last foot had been stomped, the vibrant colours of the various costumes for different segments of the musical and enchanting tone of the narrator.
Many people no doubt will remember the Venda Snake dance, the exquisite voices of the singers and the fury of the traditional Zulu dancers all which added up to ensure that the journey through the South African musical history was a fun one.
A regular Africa Umoja performance opens with the earliest colonial forms of music and traces the progression right to present time. It is exciting watching how each era in the South African history has affected its people and culture.
For example, from the Dutch colonial era, the indigenous tribes and slaves imported from the east adapted Western musical instruments and ideas. Again, the missionary influence, plus the later influence of American spirituals, spurred a gospel movement that is still very strong in South Africa today.
Gospel, in its many forms, is one of the best-selling genres in South Africa today. The missionary emphasis on choirs, combined with the traditional vocal music of South Africa and taking in other elements as well, also gave rise to a mode of acapela singing that blend the style of Western hymns with indigenous harmonies all captured in Umoja.
As it did the first time, Africa Umoja is expected to present more than just a stage musical, Six performance have been scheduled for 4pm and 8pm on April 30 May1 and May 2 at the National Theatre.
Umoja – The spirit of togetherness is produced by Charterhouse in partnership with the South Africa High Commission and sponsored by the national Theatre, Easy Ryde and South African Airways.
Daily Graphic Page: 21 Saturday, April 16, 2011