Spotlight on shared culture at African festival in India

NEW DELHI, June 20: Artists from various African nations showcased lively dances and music juxtaposing them with performances by Indian artists at an Africa Festival here, aimed at strengthening cultural ties between the countries.

Zambia, the Syechelles, Ghana, Senegal, Sudan and Mali participated in the two-day event ending on June 19 that was organised by the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR).

The event highlighted the similarities between the cultures of India and Africa like that of community living prevalent in both societies.

Eric Baffourawuah, team leader for the dance troupe from Ghana says, “Our performance here on stage is actually danced in an open space in front of the community. We believe in living in community. If someone in the community punishes your child for doing something wrong, you cannot say anything about it. It is the right of the community to do so in which you live.”

So also, the even provided a close view of differences in dance from participating countries.

While Indian dance forms employs plenty of hand and leg movements, dance forms from Africa involve complex gestures and body movements.

Jarson Phiri, the choreographer for the Zambian dance troupe says, “Every province of every country of Africa has its own dance form. Not only this we have different dances for different occasions…The dance that we performed here was Vimbuza, which is basically a healing dance to cure mental illness.”

Likewise, Baffourwuah points out that the dance form Sohu is popular in Ghana but diligence must be exercised during performances. “It is done in the honour of the Gods and if you make even a small mistake in the dance movements you can even land up getting death penalty.”

The National Cultural Troupe of Seychelles presented a dance that showed multi racial culture of Seychelles.

“There are a lot of Indians living in Seychelles and have married Seychellians there. This is why our culture today is called the Seychellwa culture. Our music is very different from Indian music, but if we come together we can create something out of it as the dance that we performed here was an African dance with an Indian idea,” says Marietta Matombe, troupe leader for Seychelles.

Bharatanayam dancer Geeta Chandran, who choreographed the festival says,” The part which was most difficult was when we had to match Western dance form with the ethnic dance form of Africa.”

“When you see the presence of so many performers from Africa in their vibrant traditional coloured dresses along with Indian dancers in saris, what more do you want. This is the real India-Africa bonding. Culture plays a unique role in underlining the link sand growing relations between India and Africa and builds everlasting understandings,” says ICCR director general Suresh Goel.

The Africa festival is scheduled to travel to Jammu, Varanasi, Ahmedabad, Chandigarh and Haridwar. (PTI)