Tribal sketches

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Intended to be a “reconstruction of native custom in dramatic form” (Peterson 1990: 229-31), they were short representations of customary rituals presented primarily at the influential mission schools and John Dube’s Ohlange Institute. They were related in form and content to the scenes displayed in the metropolitan shows such as The Exhibition of Zulu Kafirs (1853) and The Savage South Africa Show (1899). Later such sketches were accepted by “New Africans” and became part of more formal productions, inter alia by such prestigious groups as the Mthethwa Lucky Stars (1920’s), whose sketches of domestic life included scenes such as Ukuqomisa (“courting”) and Umthakathi (“diviner, sorcerer, trickster”).

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