It isn’t only the cyclists on the Tour de France who are doped: a study has shown that many young European sportsmen and women of all disciplines are given performance enhancing drugs as soon as they are old enough to start training seriously. The triumph of performance, the mirage of the perfect body, body-building, the star system, the adulation of sports people and top models… Photographers doctor their photos: nothing ungainly must show! Otherwise they risk not fulfilling their role of helping us to forget the wrinkles of time, the diseases that kill, the death that prowls…
Pépé Kallé was obese and Emorro a dwarf. Which didn’t stop their group from being one of the most legendary in the history of African music. Thwarting the so-called norms of social order, they expressed a rediscovered originality and freedom both through their music and their bodies.
Was the Cameroonian football player Roger Milla dancing of a few steps of makossa right in the middle of the world cup every time he scored a goal, or Nelson Mandela’s dancing when the election results were announced making him South Africa’s first Black President, because Black people have got « rhythm in their souls », or, as Célestin Monga suggests in Anthropologie de la colère (L’Harmattan 1995), because they are expressing their demand for dignity?
And what if the African body, reduced as it is by the gaze of the Other to a hedonism that is as seductive as it is frightening, to little more than ebony purity, to a mass of muscles in an archetype of modern superficiality, what if this African body, object of all projections, was, through its dance, laughter, or corpulence, on the contrary expressing a difference, an indocility, a lack of discipline? In a word, a subversion?
By questioning the different artistic disciplines, as usual, and without really consulting one another, we have ended up converging towards the same conclusion: the « rumba body ». In its effort to reappropriate its own body, Africa shows us how to inverse the disembodiment at play in the end-of-the-century fears, in order to assume death once and for all, and, in the process, to rediscover life!
///Article N° : 5395