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Black Agenda on Art & Culture

Featured Image: A powerful painting by South African, Cape Town based artist Dathini Mzayiya.

By BO Editorial Team

CHAPTER 19 of the BLACK AGENDA on Art & Culture agitates for a revolutionary culture, in the context of the decolonization project, giving optimal play to creativity in the attainment of black liberation and the obliteration of white supremacy. Please read and let’s engage. Send your questions, queries, comments, feedback, recommendations, etc. to: [email protected]

The BLACK AGENDA takes seriously the decolonisation agenda and considers the role of culture as set within lived realities and struggles of black people. It is not an appendage to some higher abstraction, but deeply rooted in its seeking for political truth and justice. Culture, in its truest form, speaks to an egalitarian vision. BA insists that culture, from its etymological to its utilitarian basis, is one of the names for land, justice, change, ethics and revolution. So the role of every cultural practitioner isn’t defined outside or at a distance from the people, but must, without self-censoring, be located and speak to and with black people.

Zimbabwean Tsitsi Dangarembga’s legendary novel, Nervous conditions

Art and Culture have always taken the role of the instrument or weapon of the struggle for liberation. South Africa is no exception. The role of culture was and it can be argued, still is an instrument albeit this time to fashion a backward apolitical agenda. This has been the mission of the cultural policy of the ruling ANC – to regulate all expressions and contain the within consumerist, capitalistic domains. This regulation has then sowed a disconnection between our cultural practices and society, festering a tendency where culture remains mute and averse to ethics.

Traced from the word cultura, which means to cultivate or tilt the soil, culture refers to the development of our societal well-being more broadly. This speaks not just to our access to means of living but also a harmonious consistency with our environment, each other, intellection and the preservation of our humanity. So culture refers to our very being and behaviour, religions, rituals, philosophies, law, aesthetics and so on.

A society which does not reflect such values, can only rely on a corrosive and empty cultural practice in which human dignity and the world are treated with contemptible ways. Such a society uses culture to facilitate a decadent world of ignorance and narcissism, of exploitation and violence.

For the last 500 year’s black people have not just been dispossessed of their land and labour. White oppression has laid severe blows on the culture and selfhood of blacks. We have been rejected and ridiculed by the world as uncultured and unpeopled. Our enslavement and oppression were justified because our oppressors didn’t regard us as full humans i.e. with a cultural reference points attached to land, beliefs, laws and so on.

Today as the fuel of neo liberal capitalism and white supremacy, black cultural practices are in the hands of the enemy, pauperised and, commoditised to retain the status quo.

BLACK AGENDA agitates for a cultural and artistic expression that values black liberation and disregards cultural practice that promotes capitalism, white supremacy and patriarchy.

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