South African Tales continued

Today began very early; I was whisked off through the morning traffic to the Museum of Africa which is the Summit venue and apparently a fruit market hall in a former life. The Summit was opened by the Minister for Culture in South Africa.  The first session came from Baroness Lola Young who talked of bringing a new meaning to international development work through culture and how we need a new way of doing things and a new language to make this work happen, as the current models of development are failing.  Lola shared the podium with the next speaker Professor Njabulo Ndebele who gave an insight into the possibilities of what that new language may be – he was a truly inspirational speaker.  Plenary session saw a panel of speakers looking at instrumentalisation of the arts yet again.  The first of which was the Minister from Jamaica who opened her allotted time with Bob Marley and instantly captured her audience’s attention with a sing along.

Lunch was down the street past several performance artists including a lady attacking a rock with her jackhammer -you could spot the western Europeans mentally running through the risk assessment for health and safety.  As I was about to chair a two hour afternoon work shop, I thought I had better track down my speakers.  At this point I discovered one had lost his memory stick with the only copy of his presentation on it.  Luckily both my speakers were great and did not skip a beat despite having no presentation and the time passed quickly, discussing developing culturally diverse audiences : unsustainable political imperative or crucial to the survival of the arts.  We had some good questions and powerful examples of what issues are being faced in Africa and  the arts practitioner from Rwanda helped us put our own challenges into perspective!

The evening gave us the choice of a menu of live arts performances from theatre, Handel’s Messiah to jazz.  I chose the latter and was treated to a fantastic performance by young people charting the history of South Africa through jazz music.  Their energy was infectious and when we were  invited to dance I was straight up there to have a good boogie!

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