The CHR’s Dullah Omar Centre for Critical Thought in African Humanities (DOCCTAH) was launched on 20 February 2015, when Hassan el Geretly and Neo Muyanga delivered the first Distinguished Lecture in African Humanities and Letters at the College of Cape Town, Athlone.
El Geretly founded the company, El Warsha, in Cairo in 1987. The company finds its inspiration in the streets of Cairo, in the endangered popular culture of Egypt. It is involved with storytelling, an ancestral and widespread tradition in Egypt. Over the last 20 years, El Warsha has developed a large repertoire of Egyptian songs, tales and sketches, and has also worked with testimonies from the 2011 revolution in Egypt.
Born in Soweto and a co-founder of Cape Town’s Pan African Space Station, Neo Muyanga writes music plays, chorus songs and works for chamber and large ensembles. He tours widely as a solo performer and in various band guises. While an artist-in-residence at the CHR in 2013, Muyanga investigated the aesthetics of the liberation song, as represented in collections of audio and video recordings at the UWC-Robben Island Mayibuye Archives, located at the University of the Western Cape (UWC). He also performed at concerts and with various musicians and groups, including El Warsha, one of Egypt’s oldest independent and most successful cultural troupes, during the Johannesburg Workshop in Theory and Criticism (JWTC), hosted by the Wits Institute for Social and Economic Research (WISER) (28 June – 2 July, 2013). The aim of this workshop was to tease out and compare the aesthetics of protest song and story-telling modalities in South Africa and Egypt.
The second Distinguished Lecture in African Humanities and Letters at the Dullah Omar Centre for Critical Thought in African Humanities was delivered by musician Tina Schouw at the College of Cape Town, Athlone, on 13 May 2015. The title of her lecture was ‘Reflections on Music Making and Memory’, during which she also performed original material.
Schouw is a singer/ songwriter /musician and author. Her song writing is an eclectic blend of musical styles, which includes jazz, folk, pop and Brazilian. From 1987 to 1990, at the invitation of the Anti Apartheid Movements abroad, she performed in the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Switzerland and Sweden. There she performed her original material, which was steeped in socio-political commentary. After 1994 her song writing took a more personal turn and focused on her personal reflections on love, life and humanity. During the early 90s, she performed in various Broadway revues and musical theatre productions in South Africa. She played the lead role of Mary Magdalene in Jesus Christ Superstar; Lady Thiang in The King and I. Since 1996 she has produced her own shows, showcasing her original material, and performing at various South African theatre and music venues, including Artscape and the Baxter Theatre in Cape Town; PACT in Pretoria; the Market Theatre in Johannesburg and the Playhouse Theatre in Durban.
Schouw has performed at the Cape Town International Jazz Festival; the National Festival of the Arts in Grahamstown; and the Voorkamer Festival in Darling. In September 2008 she was invited to perform in the Netherlands at the “Royale Theatre Carre”. On 27 February 2011, she launched her second adult CD, “Winds Call” with a concert at the Oude Libertas Amphitheatre, which included a stellar cast of supporting musicians. She is an active member of the NPO, I Am Somebody, who runs Mentorship and Rites of Passage Programmes for youth from diverse backgrounds. She is also a board member of POSA (Performers Organization South Africa). Currently she is working on three writing projects. She continues to enjoy performing for private and public events, teaching and using music as a creative tool for healing.