Popularized by Ladysmith Black Mambazo and Paul Simon, the "a cappella" music known as "isicathamiya" has become celebrated as one of South Africa's most vibrant and distinct performance traditions. This text provides an interpretation of isicathamiya performance practice and its relation to the culture and consciousness of the Zulu migrant labourers who largely compose its choirs. In songs and dances, the performers oppose the class and racial oppression that reduces them to "labour units." At the same time, Erlmann argues, the performers rework dominant images to symbolically reconstruct their "home," an imagined world of Zulu rural tradition and identity. By contrasting the live performance of isicathamiya to its reproduction in mass media, recordings and international concerts, Erlmann addresses issues in performance studies and anthropology, and looks to the future of isicathamiya live performance in the new South Africa.
Publisher: The University of Chicago Press