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Dali Lama in Cape Town
- To: The Armchair Travellers <email@example.com>
- Subject: Dali Lama in Cape Town
- From: Andy Rabagliati <firstname.lastname@example.org>
- Date: Thu, 16 Dec 1999 12:17:25 +0200
The Dalai Lama was in Cape Town last week, for the World Paliament
of Churches. The papers reported that he was gently critical of the
parliament, for not doing enough with their position.
He also opened the Festival of Sacred Music, at Kistenbosch Botanical
Gardens, which I attended with some theatre friends of mine. The
setting was stunning - a backdrop of Table Mountain, green sloping
lawns, chattering birds. We were asked to "have compassion" by sitting
down to allow people at the back to see. The South African wicker
hamper brigade were much in evidence, blankets and cloths spread about
and wine and champagne corks popping.
Represented were several South African musical groups, some drummers
from Burundi, and the Taico drummers from Japan.
The Burundi group had drums about a foot in diameter, two feet long,
which they carried on their heads while playing. This enabled them to
walk around, and dance, while performing.
The Dalai Lama then arrived, with his retinue and several political
figures including the Mayor of Cape Town (a well-spoken black lady)
who had visited the Dalai Lama at his home-in-exile in India. Also in
attendance was the minister of Arts, Culture, Science and Technology,
the breadth of whose porfolio echoed "master of none".
The Mayor made a nice speech, sprinkled with post-apartheid political
epithets. The Minister made a better one, with thought-provoking
references to Africas role in the next millenium. Maybe his title was
The Dalai Lama was delightfully informal, starting with the obligatory
thank yous to all the volunteers for all their work, and the presence
of his guests. He made these through his interpreter, obviously
easier for him, and then made the rest of his speech in somewhat
halting English. His message for the new millenium was "Optimism" and
He recounted stories from his recent visit to the UK, one of which
was having tea with the Queen Mother, and discussing how things
have changed with the world during their lifetime. The picture was
While he spoke, a rainbow appeared in the sky.
After he had spoken, made a few presentations, and left, the music
continued. The Taico drummers I had seen with Anita and Mikie in
Colorado Springs some years ago, and words fail me.. They have a
strict regimen that includes daily 25Km runs and prayer. When the
Japanese set out to create perfection, they can get closer than anyone
else. Their performance is a choreographed piece, named after the
Shinto Genesis. There is one huge drum, maybe 4 feet in diameter, and
a lead drummer, and another ten or so 1 foot drums. Every kind of
rhythm blended together, including a piece where single drums would
play and chatter to other drums. Another long solo by the big drum.
A piece where half the drummers were a tiny bit later than the other
half. They all also played the flute. Truly magnificent.
A tough act to follow, but the next act was some older women from the
Transkei, one on a bow. This was played like a violin, with the top
of the bow held in her mouth, and combined a flute. Truly bizarre.
Difficult to amplify and mic, but they did. Backing vocals were
ululating nonsense words. Well, I guess you had to be there ..
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Andy Rabagliati . email@example.com . http://www.wizzy.com/andyr/