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Ghoema is a musical play by David Kramer (1951-) and Taliep Petersen (1950-2006).

The title

The title serves as a reference ghoema tradition in Cape musical culture, and refers specifically to a single-headed drum made from a wooden barrel or vat, small enough to be carried and played while walking and much used in the traditional music of the Cape Malay people. The name comes in various forms, including ghoema, ghooma, goema or ghomma, and is speculated that the word probably originated from "ngoma", which means "drum" in Swahili[], and that it was an instrument and a word that slaves from Zanzibar and Madagascar (who found themselves at the Cape) would have used.

The music played using the instrument came to be known as goema-goema music, the songs "ghoemaliedjies" or "ghommaliedjies" ("ghoema songs" or ghomma songs). The form was later integrated with jazz and rock music. It has long formed an integral part of the Klopse cultural activities and the annual Cape Minstrel Carnival in the Western Cape.

For more on ghoema and ghoema music and songs, see the entry in the Dictionary of South African English[1]

The original text

Using the traditional ghoema drum music as metaphor and driving theme, the piece explores and celebrates the early South African history and the musical heritage of the Cape Town region, taking an in-depth look at the music of Cape Town and how it derived its origins in the spice trade. In the 150 years after Jan van Riebeeck's arrival at the Cape, slaves were brought from Mozambique, Madagascar, India, Ceylon and Indonesia. They brought with them a diversity of languages, skills and culture, giving rise to a unique creole society that is celebrated in the play.[2]

Created and first performed in 2005.

The first production was nominated for seven Fleur du Cap awards, winning two (for Best Set Design and Best Lighting design) and also won a Naledi Award.

The play was called Spice Drum Beat: Ghoema for its London run.

Translations and adaptations

Performance history in South Africa

2005-6: Performed for the first time at the Baxter Theatre in from 11 November 2005 to 7 January 2006. Written and directed by David Kramer. Musical Director: Taliep Petersen. Costume Design: Illka Louw. Choreography by Loukmaan Adams. Cast included Loukmaan Adams, Munthir Dullisear, Zenobia Kloppers, Gary Naidoo, Carmen Maarman. Musicians included Danny Butler, Gammie Lakay, Howard Links, Solly Martin, Charlie Rhode.

2006: The same production was also presented at The Tricycle in London, the University of Johannesburg Arts Centre and the H.B. Thom Theatre in Stellenbosch.

2007: Performed by Stage Productions and the Market Theatre in the Market Theatre's Main theatre, 13 June - 22 July.


Beeld Plus, 1 March 2001.

Beeld, 3 July 2007

Dictionary of South African English[3]

"Ghoema opens", UCT News (21 November, 2005)[4]

Ghoema theatre programme (Baxter).

Go to ESAT Bibliography

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