THINK the Olympic Games. Now imagine that as an African Olympics for competitors from across the continent. Now take away the sport and replace it with the arts and imagine an “Arts Olympics” for Africa… that is more or less what the 2015 African Delphic Games are.
Only these performing arts Olympics are aimed at the “unknowns” on the African art scene. Organisers at the games’s launch in Durban on Friday said the games were developmental in nature.
The African Delphic Games will be held in Durban next year. They were launched at Durban’s BAT Centre, on Friday.
Some 1 200 participants from across Africa are expected to participate. A host of South African and African talent present at the launch gave a taste of what’s to come during the event with their display of traditional music, poetry, hip hop, dance and more.
El Supreme, a reggae artist from Botswana, said he was excited by what the games represent for developing artists in Africa: “I’m here to represent Botswana and the Tswana culture. I want to show off my culture at the games next year, through my art. It’s also a blessing to be able to meet the other African artists. It is also nice to see the Government of South Africa taking the arts seriously. Hopefully these games will lead to development in the industry and improved conditions for the lives of artists as a whole.”
El Supreme said that he felt the opportunity for cultural exchange is as important: “I think that’s what’s going to bring Africans across the continent closer together in their art. So it will allow us to learn more about the other cultures, network and even promote tourism in our own countries. In terms of social cohesion and building a more modern artistic society in Africa, I think African artists must link up and this kind of event provides that opportunity.”
At the launch, His Royal Heritage, Zolani Mkiva, the president of the African Delphic Council (ADC) and the National Delphic Council of South Africa (NDCSA), said they are looking at hosting the event every two years.
“We will make sure we get a programme of action for artists to use their talent to sustain themselves, for a better life for them and their families.”
Eric Applegren, representing eThekwini Municipality, said in line with the developmental goal of the games, they wanted to extend their reach to Durban townships by, for example, involving artists from the townships and using arts venues such at the K-Cap centre in KwaMashu, and others.
Mkiva said that aside from the awards that winners would take home, they hope the event will grow to attract sponsors for artists – similar to how sports sponsorships are attained by Olympic athletes.
“The Games will have a competitive showcase aspect as well as an aspect incorporating ‘legends’ of the arts. These legends will play a role with the participants. The legends will not compete because they are already part of the arts establishment, but can adjudicate.”
He said an album collaboration of artists across Africa, which will launch in Joburg soon, is an example of how these games can also be an important networking and collaborating event to help African artists connect.
A host of African artistes present at the launch were upbeat about the prospects of these games.
Yowo Yulèlé, a djembe musician from Ivory Coast who’ll be competing, said he’s very happy because the games have already afforded him the opportunity to travel and meet other artists.
Nyandu Mariam Therese, a traditional dancer from Burundi, said she wants to present Burundi traditions at the games and show people her culture.
Sbo da Poet from Durban said the African Delphic Games will give African artists a great platform which will probably help a lot of artists who barely get recognition.
Santhigran Marimuthu, from the South African group Raaga Renaissance, a traditional Indian fusion group, said while they were only invited to perform at the launch, having the games come to Durban is a great opportunity for artists from different countries and genres to network and collaborate: “We look forward to the opportunity of meeting the African musicians and fusing our Indian traditional sound with an African musical feel.”
Tammy Saville, who’s a popular Durban songstress, also performed at the launch and shared her opinion of the games: “It’s a wonderful idea. I think the South Africa art scene needs to be developed more and get more support for local artists. So I hope it all goes well.”
• While no set date has been penned in for the African Delphic Games, they will likely take place next year in Durban.
• In 1994, 100 years after the re-founding of the Olympic Games, 19 country representatives re-founded the Delphic Games in Berlin, Germany.
• The Delphic Games take place every four years in a chosen country, however there has been a lapse since the previous Delphic Games held in Korea in 2009.
• 2015 will be the first time that the Delphic Games have been hosted on the African continent and Durban will be the first African host city.
• Art forms for the African Delphic Games 2015 are performing arts (music and dance); lingual arts (storytelling, poetry, comedy); and visual arts (photography, painting, sculpture and craft arts).
• Awarding formats for the games are: medals in gold, silver and bronze (in comparable competitive disciplines); lyre (for exceptional individual artistic performance as a part of a larger synthesis of the arts); and laurel (for outstanding and incomparable artistic performances).