African dance (Peacock Dance) and drumming
The dance movements are usually performed in a fixed order. It starts with a peacock flying out from its nest, looking around cautiously. It roams the wild looking for food. Having had its fill, the peacock goes to the river bank to bathe and play in the water. After that, it shakes the water off, combs its feathers, and runs about enjoying the sunshine. When competing with other peacocks, it displays its beautiful tail to its rivals and to its beloved. At the end of the dance, the peacock spreads out its wings and flies joyfully into the sky.
Music (learning vocals and instruments)
In Africa music making is very often collective, involving organized collaboration in which performers contribute not identical, but complementary, constituents. Besides polyrhythmic and polymetric procedures, melodic phrases are frequently offset against one another, with different starting and ending points, either in an antiphonal “call-and-response” relationship or in an overlapping relationship that yields polyphony.
Script writing (traditional and contemporary pieces)
West Africa is a place of great diversity – in language, in writing, in the hugely varied means of recording information and passing it on.
The importance and antiquity of writing in Africa is not well known. As one scholar puts it, ‘Africa’s contribution to the art and science of writing has gone largely unrecognised in the annals of history.’2 Yet writing – in the form of Egyptian hieroglyphs – emerged in Africa from the 4th century BCE. In Ethiopia, the Ethiopic script was developed in the 4th century CE, and in Sudan the Meroïtic script was created about 180 BCE.
Photography and videography
Africa is one of the places where photography is reinvented and retooled within a very different context and was really fundamental in the circulation of a particular image of Africa in the West.
Unsurprisingly, photography played a prominent role in the project of imagining African futures during the era of ‘high modernisation’, coinciding, as it did in many places, with decolonisation and post-colonial independence.
Other performing arts
The performing arts in Africa cover not only a wide array of disciplines like dance, theatre and music, but these disciplines can also be studied on a wide continuum between what is ascribed, at one end, to the so-called traditional and, at the other end, to the contemporary. Both these sectors have their own corpus of literature.