Dikopelo folk music of Bakgatla ba Kgafela in Kgatleng District


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Inscribed in 2017 (12.COM) on the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding

© S.O. Rampete/Bakgatla ba Kgafela, 2011

The Dikopelo music practice involves vocal singing and dancing in a patterned choreography without musical instruments in which people from a particular area join together to sing as a choir. The element is practised by men, women and children but is mostly dominated by Elders who, forming an informal Council of Advisors, transmit their skills to the younger generation. Dikopelo is a communal practice involving a shared vision of community life. The element is no longer as widespread as it was in the past. Though Dikopelo originated as a communal event practised on farmlands, due to the decline in people engaged in farming the choirs have moved to villages where modernization makes practising it more difficult. Modern entertainment practices have also reduced the number of knowledgeable practitioners capable of explaining the significance of the element. However, though the viability of Dikopelo is low, the community and practitioners are committed to safeguarding it, as illustrated by their willingness to compete with groups from other districts and efforts to revive Dikopelo as a strategy to protect young people from social ills and promote positive messages among the community.