As the world is becoming increasingly globalised through media, transportation, and the rapid development of digital technology, so are our identities. The globalised era has birthed the ‘global citizen’ which is an all-inclusive identity centred around the idea that we are all citizens of any part of the world by virtue of our interconnectedness. However, the idea of a global citizen poses a threat to marginalised cultures that have not had the opportunity to meaningfully establish themselves in the global system. So, how can African culture be preserved in the globalised era, well an answer can be found at UP Ovuwa.
On 25 August, UP Ovuwa held an electrifying performance showcasing the beauty of several Southern African cultures through music and dance as part of the weeklong UP Music Festival. PDBY held an exclusive interview with the director of UP Ovuwa, Mxolisi Duda, to find out more about how UP Ovuwa is promoting and preserving African culture and art. According to Duda, UP Ovuwa can be described as “a cultural ensemble that promotes, preserves and celebrates African musical art through indigenous music, dance and poetry”. The only way culture can be preserved is when it is passed down from generation to generation. UP Ovuwa fulfils this preservation role in several ways. Duda cited that some members of the ensemble have never been exposed to indigenous African cultures and through their time at UP Ovuwa, members not only celebrate African culture through performances, but they also gain a knowledge of African culture. Duda further added that UP Ovuwa also aims to be an educational resource for audiences by providing pamphlets that accompany performances to explain to audiences the meaning and significance behind the various aspects of the show. According to Duda the aim of UP Ovuwa is to ignite a sense of pride in the identities African people and that this sense of pride is, “knowing who you are not because other people exist but because we all coexist”.
PDBY also spoke to a member of the UP Ovuwa ensemble, Geraldine Mboweni, about her time at UP Ovuwa and she highlighted the positive impact UP Ovuwa has had on her. Not only has she successfully learned various indigenous African dances, with no prior experience, but she has also gained an appreciation for her own culture and other African cultures as well.
By taking an exclusive look at UP Ovuwa it is evident that African culture can survive the globalised era. These cultures have an established voice in the global system – if the arts are funded and individuals are given the creative freedom to create spaces that promote the transfer of indigenous African knowledge across generations. UP Ovuwa’s next performance is set for Heritage Day on 24 September.