June 19, 2010

So I haven’t talked about it much on here but in about 6 days Jenn and I get on a plane at JFK and fly to Tanzania, East Africa to be in residence with the International Theatre and Literacy Project. We will be in a school outside Arusha (a city near the mountains and close to the Serengeti). Writing that sentence alone is stunning to me.

I have never really traveled outside of the U.S. So Africa is a big jump. We’ll be working with students at a British style parochial school (imperialism still haunts pretty massively) incorporating theater to encourage them to make a piece based on their lives in their village.

I’ve been learning a bit of Swahili for the trip and the video above is one of my new favorite rap groups- X Plastaz. (Sadly, Nelly- the main rapper in this video was killed trying to break up an argument between two people in his town). It’s highly political and regionalized- Tanzanian rappers rhyme about the smallest of villages that they come from- there’s a kid who goes by the name CANDLE- who basically works as a tour guide at the Serengeti an raps about what it’s like to drive through one of the most famous patches of wildlife and land in the entire world. Little different than Lil Wayne over here.

We’ve been told that G8 politics are a huge influence- that African countries attempting to enter into the global conversation are forced to assimilate. Therefore the school curriculum is based on G8 concerns for the region- AIDS/HIV, gender equality…

So there is this push and pull between holding onto the great traditions of their tribes (the Masai are big in this region and X Plastaz actually incorporates a lot of their music in the backing beats for their rhymes) and the want (and need, really) to create an independent global identity (what’s funny is a global identity, here- also means giving up a lot of your personal identity. It’s like how we talk about corporate identity, most corporations assimilate the tactics, language and methods of others around them and become grouped monoliths- countries in the changing world of globalization are seeing the same thing- your identity is formed by appropriating someone else’s)…

I’ll try and blog from there. I’ll be journaling for sure. But if you can’t get me, now you know why…

And now I leave you with this and tell me this doesn’t sound like an old school BOOT CAMP CLICK track from the 90’s (if Rah Digga was a member)…

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