Lessons in homecoming

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Whenever I have been present at, or seen footage of a homecoming festival in an African community, I noticed that these events included contributions from folks of almost all ages. Men, women and children were involved – as participants and observers in songs, dances, rites and ceremonies.

Avoiding sweeping generalisations, I have learnt through the years that the performing arts are rooted in the rituals and ceremonies of most cultures. In those moments, each of us gets an opportunity to feel like part of a large spiritual entity.

There must have been a point in our histories, when a sort of schism developed between performers and audiences. Those who had access to wealth and privilege started regarding themselves as those who should be entertained by minions. In European high brow culture, most composers were seen as underlings, until the emergence of Beethoven, apparently.

Nowadays, terms such as “immersive” are used to describe a performer-audience relationship that is probably simulating the way things were in the early days of these activities amongst human beings.

Are we simply travelling on the scenic route towards progress, only to find that we had the most appropriate idea in the first place?