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This Week’s Hidden Gem February 20, 2009

Posted by Rebecca Kahn in Hidden Gem.
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This week’s Hidden Gem is an audio file which has been lurking in the Internet Archive‘s vast open source audio repository. It’s a wonderful recording by National Public Radio’s Afropop Worldwide show, and was made to celebrate South African music and culture, particularly of the period during the transition to democracy.

Veterans of contemporary SA music including Lucky Dube, Ray Phiri, Dorothy Masuka, and others are interviewed and they share their recollections of the key events of the apartheid era and the long journey to freedom: the June 16th 1976 Soweto Student Uprising, the February 11th 1990 release from jail of Nelson Mandela; the April 27th 1994 first democratic elections for the New South Africa. Younger stars of kwaito music including Kabelo and Thandiswa Mazwai speak for the youth generation.


Some of these amazing musicians are no longer with us. It’s a great treat to be able to hear their voices again.

This audio recording is stored on the Internet Archive under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommerical-No-Derivatives 3.0 license, so you are free to download and share it.

Living Heritage – The Haka February 12, 2009

Posted by Rebecca Kahn in Features.
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There’s a great article in The Guardian today about the haka, the traditional Maori ritual that anyone who watches rugby (or bad TV ads) is familiar with.

The eye-rolling, grimacing dance is an important part of Maori culture, and has been incorporated into the culture in New Zealand and the rest of the world. But, according to the article, it’s been used in various culturally insensitive ways, which has angered and upset traditional leaders in the Maori community in New Zealand.

So the good news is that the New Zealand government has assigned intellectual property rights in the traditional Maori haka, or the Ka Mate, to Ngati Toa, a North Island tribal group. This in itself is great news but what’s even more important is the understanding from both the government and the Ngati Toa that this is not a decision that has been made around money, which is so often the lurking agenda behind decisions in the Traditional Knowledge sphere.

The agreement states that:
“Ngati Toa’s primary objective is to prevent the misappropriation and culturally inappropriate use of the Ka Mate haka,”

And the article goes to to say that:

“…while the tribe has tried several times to trademark the haka, it has failed, mainly becuase of concerns that¬† it might charge the All Blacks for performing it. However, John Key, New Zealand’s prime minister, said the issue was cultural redress and not money. If a company wanted to use the haka for commercial reasons there should be a recognition of the tribe’s cultural interests. How this would be handled in the final treaty settlement was still a matter of discussion, he told the New Zealand Herald.”

This is, I think, a really good example of how the tensions between groups in countries that have a history of colonisation can be addressed in a way that preserves traditional culture and heritage, not just for the ethnic groups where the traditions originated, but also for the groups who have appropriated this culture for themselves. Ideas of ownership in the TK arena¬† need not be an “us” and “them” scenario – but rather an agreement on the collective nature of heritage, with an acknowledgement of where the culture originated.

Pic: Kiwi Haka by Jad_23 on Flickr, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Hidden Gem January 29, 2009

Posted by Rebecca Kahn in Features.
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All over the internet, hidden away in archives, lurking on video-sharing sites, swimming in photo-streams and waiting quietly in the wings are (literally) thousands of of images, shorts, films, posts, photos and audio clips that reflect the fantastic heritage of South Africa and South Africans.

In what we’re hoping will be a regular feature on this site, we’re going to showcase the random gems that we stumble upon in our continual search for SA heritage and cultural artifacts online. This week, we’ve found a short documentary made by Link Media Inc, which looks at the Golden Dragon Restaurant, one of the very first Chinese restaurants in Cape Town. It’s a fascinating look at people who once considered themselves to be strangers in a strange land and yet who were a cornerstone in their community. It also examines how the Chinese community is only now shaking off its confusion to claim its place in the new South Africa.

This documentary is part of the Open Source Movies collection on the Internet Archive, and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial license which means that you can remix and/or republish this as long as it is for non-commercial purposes.