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An Eisteddfod is a concept deriving from a 12th century Welsh tradition of arts festivals, but is today used to refer to what is basically a competition of literature, music and performance.

The plural form (Eisteddfodau) refers to the general movement.


Origins and nature of an Eisteddfod

In Welsh culture, an eisteddfod (Welsh: ə(i)ˈstɛðvɔd , plural ə(i)stɛðˈvɔdaɨ) is a referring to a Welsh festival of literature, music and performance. The tradition dates from about the 12th century, but it disappeared with the loss of the bardic tradition in Wales and elsewhere. In the 18th-century there was however a revival through the emergence of a number of informal eisteddfodau, and the tradition spread through the British Empire over the next two centuries.

For more on the Welsh traition , see http://www.wales.com/about-wales/arts-culture/eisteddfodau

However, in many countries, such as the former colonies, the term eisteddfod (plural often eisteddfods) is used for certain types of performing arts competitions that have nothing to do with Welsh culture.

Establishment in South Africa

According to the Wikipedia entry[1] on the term Eisteddfod, there have been a number of international performing arts competitions in South Africa are called eisteddfods over the years. (e.g. the Tygerberg International Eisteddfod), but the word "eisteddfod" gradually came to be used largely to refer to ordinary cultural festivals, especially within amateur circles and educational contexts, the competitions focussed on all kinds of performances, not necessary Welsh material, including presentations of music, poetry, drama and elocution by amateur theatrical societies and/or school children. In the latter case the name is found on occasion even if only the one school's students participate.

The precise date of the first South African eisteddfod is uncertain, though Wikipedia mentions that a Pretoria Eisteddfod was first held in 1923.

The first ones were no doubt in English, but over time came to include the other local languages as well, notably Afrikaans (in which language the same word, eisteddfod, is used). (For example, in 1936 the Kaapstadse Afrikaanse Toneelvereniging won first and second prize with excerpts from Gebroke Drade by Van Bruggen) and Die Kwaksalwer by Leipold.)

South African eisteddfodau or eisteddfods

The Bloemfontein Eisteddfod

The Eastern Cape Eisteddfod

The annual Eastern Cape Eisteddfod a schools competition, incorporating dance, speech and drama, photography and original writing, set up to enable young people to present their work before expert adjudicators and to compare notes with others. It is run by the Grahamstown Foundation

The Free State Eisteddfod

The National Eisteddfod of South Africa

The National Eisteddfod of South Africa was founded and is run by the National Eisteddfod Academy (established in 1997) who, on their website, claim that it is the largest eisteddfod platform in the country[2].

For more information, see the website at http://www.eisteddfod.co.za/

The Pretoria Eisteddfod

According to the Wikipedia entry on "Eistedffod", a Pretoria Eisteddfod was first held in 1923.

The Randburg Eisteddfod

The Tygerberg International Eisteddfod





Kruger 199*, P.28;

Binge, 1969, p197 *

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