The College of Arts & Sciences, along with the MLK Cultural Center and UK’s African Student Association, recently hosted Jomo Xulu and the Umdabu South African Dance Company. As part of A&S’s year-long international programming on South Africa, the dance troupe brought the unique rhythms and powerful cultural history of the Zulu people to Lexington. Filled to near capacity, Memorial Hall buzzed with the exciting sights and sounds of the dance company as they educated the audience on the origins of the dances and how they reflect today’s society in South Africa.
The performance incorporated Zulu dances that originated from nature as well as in the mines of South Africa. Often without their drums, miners created instruments fashioned from everyday materials, including transforming their boots into percussion instruments. The performance not only got the audience out of their seats – literally – but also included personal stories from the director of the group, Jomo Xulu. Growing up in South Africa as a Zulu during apartheid, Xulu became involved in the African National Congress as a youth in protest to the brutal apartheid regime.
Watch a video of this dynamic dance company, and for information on how you can experience these exciting events, go to South Africa and Kentucky: Different Lands, Common Ground's website.