African American Studies

By Jeanette R. Davidson | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 11
Song and Dance Nexus in the
Africana Aesthetic: An Approach

Melanie Bratcher

University of Oklahoma

Kugusa Mtima (to touch the heart) is a Kiswahili term which has
the advantage of helping us to understand our Africanness. It is
the experience of being “touched,” or “moved,” “affected” by a
self-consciously created form/phenomenon. These expressions are
powerful energies which act on reality and act on us. They have the
ability to change reality as we have. The concept of Kugusa Mtima
takes “aesthetic” beyond “beauty” and “pleasure,” expands it and
places it into the context of the profound African understanding/
experience of the universe.1

Marimba Ani’s definition of Africana Aesthetics cogently states the import of studies in African Aesthetics especially for African people.2 Our conceptions of the universe come to the fore and provide maps with which the journey of our dramas can be traced. There is no history or culture or mythology without the facts of its art. Quite telling in her definition, which excludes the word “art,” is the fact that our aesthetic goes beyond “fundamental issues in the philosophy of arts” for “art” is a term that is not without debate.3

The modes, patterns, percussiveness, rhythms, forms, and styles that form our existence are reflected in expressions of conditions that might be called artistic creation—authenticity becomes discovery, and discovery informs authenticity. When one examines the relationship of African artistry to the reality these creations represent, the world of compellingly liberating processes is eminent. Any such examination is a pointed source of spiritual and psychological uplift for Africans and can foster cross-cultural understanding and communication.

-224-

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