Quickly becoming one of our favorite places to spontaneously find ourselves attending an information packed talk/workshop is The American Corner, located at the Public Library in the city of Cape Town. Hosted by the US consulate, the programs are built around fostering US/SA relationships based on encouraging stimulating dialogue and other innovations that we, the public, can process and provide relevant feedback through the numerous methods provided by the Corner. Our choice of engagement is the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) which is a network of young peer leaders, bent on disrupting current (failing) modes of thought when it comes to community development.
Today, we had the chance to virtually share a room with @KevinAllred, who managed to stir the audience enough to produce audible intakes of breath and clutching of very pretty, African beads. #PoliticizingBeyonce (and handling the future repercussions, if the goal is met) will be no easy task, depending on the selected crowd, gathering slowly near Kevin’s soap box, pretending not to hear him but dying to scream profanities at him. Kevin went on to give an example of the new Formation video (I felt sorry for the little kid next to me, as we had to watch it) and highlighted scenes referencing some of the challenges that American society faces today. The conversation began with an audience member questioning Beyonce’s awareness of her music being interpreted in such a political manner while Kevin, true maestro that he is, managed to disassociate his answer from any verbal confirmation of the woman’s intentions. Basically, apart from a few winks and nods, for all we know, Beyonce is just putting on a show. Her fans really love that cake. One die-hard non-fan criticized her “calculated” performances and demanded to get to know her better as a person (if this doesn’t prove that she is a politician, then we don’t know what does)
Ending off, we were given the chance to reflect on the relevance of Beyonce’s politics when a young mother of two brought up the differences in cultural norms faced by vastly different societies. The HIGHLY sexual nature of Beyonce as an American role model, pictured against the traditionalist African girl-child, growing up in a world ruled by culturally expectant men who reserve their importance over “the lessor sex”. As the younger generation begins it’s grapple with the older for the reins of control, who will come to the helm to save South Africa from the increasing number Beyonce and Nikki wannabes? Does South Africa need saving from these young women or does she need more of them?
As we contemplate the American JZ and the South African JZ with his (5?) wives…we wonder what exciting program the American Corner will introduce to us next!