Dust of the Zulu: Ngoma Aesthetics after Apartheid
Louise Meintjes is Associate Professor of Music and Cultural Anthropology at Duke University and the author of Sound of Africa!Making Music Zulu in a South African Studio, also published by Duke University Press.
TJ Lemon is an award-winning photojournalist based in Johannesburg.
Feet of the Centipede: Military Aesthetics and the Politics of Reconciliation
This chapter considers the safety of the body and the issue’s underbelly, namely the necessary management of danger for migrant workers in violent times. Focusing on intracommunal struggles and their tense resolution—zooming in on one high-profile assassination—the ethnography shows dancers’ treatment of their art form as a performance about violence as performance. The chapter traces features of ngoma’s dress, sound, and dance to recent and long-past military styles. It also charts some of the history of the area’s factional fighting and chronicles aspects of a local conflict during the early 1990s. Set in this environment, how does one read ngoma aesthetics as a contemporary warrior dance? The sequential details of one improvised competition carefully curated by a team captain suggest that the ambiguity of ngoma aesthetics is key to ngoma’s potential as a resource for the management of danger and the negotiation of future communal sociality.