What Is The Origin Of African Drama?


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Matthew Porter answered
Much of modern day African drama has its origins in ritualistic music and dance that commonly expressed extreme emotions such as passion, love and terror. Tribes would act out imitations of things that they wanted to happen. For instance if they wanted to kill an enemy, they would imitate the process among the tribe.

The widespread belief in Sympathetic Magic meant that such imitations took place with the genuine belief that it would enable it to happen in real life. Dance and song was a central part of religious and magical ritual.

As well as anticipatory performances such as this, there were also reactionary dramatic occasions, for instance the celebration of a notable event or a commemoration. Again, re-enactment was crucial with great attention to detail paid to make sure that the acting was as faithful as possible.

As many African countries celebrated the end of colonization and the gaining of independence in the 20th century, the celebration of the past and attempts to reclaim and celebrate the country's cultural heritage became a crucial part of the move towards cultural autonomy. This meant that the ritualistic dramatic performances of the past were explored and celebrated once more.

Modern theater at village level throughout Africa has built upon the local traditions of music, song, dance, spectacle and storytelling to create present day urban theater. In the twentieth century, colonial music-hall entertainment was popular across West Africa, with parties such as the Ghanaian 'Trios' being massively popular in the major cities such as Accra.

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