Last Friday evening the George Washington University’s Marvin Centre theatre became the location of a cultural crossroads. On one side of the highway of life was the audience from the Western world. We brought to the table first world problems such as, “what color should my new BMW be?” and “why is Apple taking so long to release iPhone 10?” Facing us on the other side of the civilization juncture was the Bokamoso Youth choir from Winterweldt, South Africa. “Ubuntu”-meaning the interconnectedness at the heart of our humanity- is the word the organization uses to summarize itself. It is a very apt description.
It was a sobering experience for the Western world contingent. We observed the spectacle before our eyes with great curiosity. Narratives illustrating the challenges facing Africa’s youth today prompted the realization that our first world problems are insignificant. The effectiveness of the message was exacerbated by skillful dance and harmonious song. We were made aware of some of the prevalent issues facing African youth today. Topics explored included the treatment of immigrants, poverty, gender inequality, high unemployment and the complex balancing of traditional rites of passage with modern life.
The US creative team behind the music composition, screenplay and dance choreography are to be highly, highly commended. The delicate interplay between humor and tragedy, perceived realities and cold fact, had the audience at times in fits of laughter, at times in quiet reflection. Such artistic mastery can rarely be experienced for an entrance cost of just US $10.00.
I particularly enjoyed the performance because I had briefly interacted with some Bokamoso members when they came to a GWU University Singers’ rehearsal earlier that week. They taught us the African spiritual ‘The music of the LORD’. Our voices in collective harmony spoke of the power of unity. We left the bleak confine of the Phillips rehearsal studio basement with an avid aspiration to save humanity from itself by spreading the power of unity through song. Ubuntu!
You can learn more about this excellent organization here: http://www.bokamosoyouth.org/