An evening of culture imbued with Bantu community spirit

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The banquet hall in the sprawling Government Complex in Lusaka was full for the evening of culture organised on Thursday, May 26 for delegates attending the African Development Bank’s Annual Meetings. The evening was hosted by the Zambian Government, represented by Alexander B. Chikwanda, Minister of Finance of the Republic of Zambia, and his guest-of-honour, Akinwumi Adesina, President of the AfDB Group.

Chikwanda welcomed the delegations of the Bank’s regional member countries in both English and French. The programme featured a sketch on the theme of energy and climate change, performed by Barefoot, and a variety of music and dance performances from Zambia performed by arts groups.

The atmosphere was heavily influenced by the heritage of the Bantu people, for whom art manifests the spirit of their existence in the human world. It is the subject of belief in a supreme being that reigns over the universe and creates the link between ancestral generations and people living now; it also forms part of the community’s know-how in this society of men of integrity.

The artists did their utmost to deliver different messages in relation to the world of spirits, “genies” and “primordial ancestors”, closer to human society than the strictly divine universe. The masks they wear represent the genies and spirit of its protective totems, hence the masked dances common to the Bantu area of East Africa and the Great Lakes region. The drum also has a role to play as an essential element of life, and is used in both sacred and secular rituals. The centrepiece of the evening was the dinner and a fashion show of traditional and modern dress by Zambian stylists (Angela Nyirenda and Maureen Lilanda).

A distinctive feature of the evening was the close relationship between the music, dance, masks and finery of the Bantu area, and the power of words repeated by one of the traditional dance groups, “Yaka, Yaka”. Some of these traditions can be traced in ethnic communities in the Congo and Southeast Gabon.

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