Last night I went to the (Ford) Centre to see Ladysmith Black Mambazo. I went on something of a whim, having enjoyed their work on Paul Simon’s Graceland, but otherwise knowing very little about them.
It turns out that they have a long and remarkable history in South Africa. Read the Wikipedia entry for all the details, but suffice it to say that they deserve their status as ambassadors to the world. Their music was simultaneously foreign and beautiful, seeming to me to be the proto-music for many Western styles.
I think it’s ill-advised for Caucasian Canadians to break out all of their Africana on the night the South African band comes to town. There were massive dangling bead earrings, bizarre animal print jackets and, the worst example, some short white guy wearing a shirt like this.
Now I understand that 20th-century fashion has plundered all corners of the world. That’s how fashion works, and I don’t object. In fact, I applaud the people who bypass the Gap and express their individuality through their clothes.
However, it’s not like wearing a Canucks jersey to a hockey game. The night that Ladysmith Black Mambazo is in town is in fact the one night you want to leave your African clothes at home. To me, wearing your Arfricana says to the performers “see, I’m the same as you.” When, in fact, the evening should be about celebrating difference.
Maybe I’ve got this all wrong — what you think?