A History of Theatre in Africa by Martin Banham

By Martin Banham

Supplying a accomplished account of a protracted and sundry chronicle, this historical past of theater in Africa is created from essays written by means of students within the box. The assurance is geographically extensive and contains an exam of the recommendations of "history" and "theater" in Africa; North Africa; Francophone theatre; Anglophone West Africa; East Africa; Southern Africa; Lusophone African theatre; Mauritius and Reunion; in addition to the African diaspora.

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Unfortunately, its failure is so massive that nothing can save it. In the meantime, theatre, drama and performance will continue to assert that the holy places of African peoples are not in Jerusalem, not in Mecca and Medina, not in the consumer emporiums of London, Paris, New York and Tokyo. Rather, our performance traditions will continue to assert that our holy places are next door to us, in the affirmation of our tribal identity within the embrace of our modern African country’s identity, and that our everyday sacred and secular rituals continue in our indigenous languages.

Greek was still the official language of the administration. Greek culture remained dominant in Alexandria and in the Hellenized cities on the coast and inland. Egyptians continued to worship their traditional gods, but the financial affairs of the priesthood were controlled by a Roman official. To break the power of the priests of Abydos the cult of Osiris was moved near Aswan. The beautiful temples to Isis were completed in Philae to become the centres of the dominant cult and of pilgrimage and festivities.

There were elaborate hymns to the gods, the best known of which is the hymn to Aten, composed by Akhenaten, the worshipper of the one god, Aten; there were songs performed during the rituals and ceremonies of the gods, the pharaohs and the queens. There were songs of praise and funerary dirges; field songs to be sung by the harvesters and at seed-time; work songs to be sung by fishermen, boatmen on the Nile, builders and craftsmen; love songs and drinking songs sung in the beerhouses in the towns and villages or recited and sung at banquets to the accompaniment of music.

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