Strengthening cultural awareness

Recently the whole PULSE-team were fortunate enough to travel to Hamar to participate in a festival called “Stoppested Verden”. Being invited to Hamar meant more than anything to PULSE-team as we got the opportunity to represent our country in this festival. Being part of this exciting event gave the PULSE-team a platform to share the experience of one of the South African traditions being gumboots dance. Gumboots dance was created by African mine workers who relocated to South Africa. Gumboots dance was used as a  form of expressing their emotions, feelings and gratitude as most were forced to work under harsh conditions and also separated from their families and also were not allowed to speak while working. It has also been said that the gumboot dance was used as a form of communication in order to energize and uplift the workers. The dance is very rhythmical, using different beats and clapping techniques. It works well in smaller ensembles as well as in larger groups.

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The festival is located in a park belonging to the Norwegian Railway Museum and an antique train transports the children and their families into a world filled with activities, professional artists and a variety of cultural expressions! One of the organizers explained that through inviting the local citizens to Stoppested Verden they seek to surprise, motivate and trigger an interest for and understanding of the values within the worlds’ many diverse cultures that are represented in Norway today. Concerts, workshops, activities, performances and exhibitions are the tools they use to create awareness and spread knowledge and understanding of the multicultural diversity we are all a part of.

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Norwegian Railway Museum

By meeting people from all corners of the world sharing our lives at the same time, uplifted  the good human spirit feeling. These kind of festivals additionally prepares one and edifies about what we cerebrate or optically discern in other countries. Reality is that we are living in a society that is constantly changing. People are constantly on the move; either it is within the borders of their countries, across neighbouring borders or like us; to a different continent. Migration and emigration in smaller or larger scales for all sorts of reasons has always happened. Question is whether this is strengthening or weakening our respective cultures.

Our experience from Stoppested Verden has made us realize that meeting new cultural expressions makes us more aware of our own. Looking at the other artist’s we spoke to about the similarities and the differences of our culture and traditions created a strong feeling of together. We also found ourselves performing with other artists and together we made something that reflected and showcased all the involved cultures. Never did we feel like we lost our South African expression or identity.

Written by: Thulani Dupa and Masibulele Langa

Photos by: Sihle Mabena & Stoppested Verden archive

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