Sarahfina's Africa: Gumboot Dance in QwaQwa, South Africa (2003)
Sarah Van Borek
"For the bargain price of a 1 Rand donation, I quite literally kicked up a gumboot storm with 2 of the boys I'd been teaching before my beaming host mother (Mama) and an exuberant crowd. No sooner had we finished and I had just returned to my seat when Mama stepped back up to the stage area and even more loudly (and even more proudly!) challenged me to perform another gumboot dance, this time upping the stakes to 2 Rand.
The mining industry in South Africa has seen a lot of dividing people: taking husbands away from their wives and fathers away from their children; rural people moving to cities; foreigners moving into the country; employers separating themselves from employees. The race for material wealth has often taken priority over cultivating the true wealth of a nation-its people and harmonious social relations.
As my Tanzanian musician friend, Adeson Nchimbi, says, "Culture is very important." The culture of gumboot dance that grew out of South Africa's mines has enabled me, both in Canada and in South Africa, to bridge across divisions and strike upon the richest riches of them all: a home and a family where there was only fear before."
Pencil drawing and text excerpt from Sarahfina's Africa: the illustrated diary of a Canadian artist in Africa. A series of “self-portraits” illustrated by Sarah Van Borek in which cultural participation combined with the African “Ubuntu” philosophy expands the artist’s sense of identity from individual to collective. The artist’s re-imaging of Africa from the authority of her own personal experiences.
divisions of language, culture, race, religion and place of birth, definitions of “us” and “them,” are overcome by the pure spirit of shared cultural expression