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.

Traditional choir demonstrating the message of the song
Young and elderly members of Sedibelo Choir ensuring transmission of the element
True Fighters Choir showcasting their famous marching step style
Practitioners demonstrating dancing styles at the height of the song during performing arts regional competition
An elderly whistle blower signalling the end of the song
Audience with adjudicators during the Présidents Day Choir competitions
Sedibelo Choir in jubliation after winning Presidents' Day competitions
Dikhwaere also form part of cultural ceremonies such as letlhafula thanks giving ceremony and weddings
Elderly members of the community singing traditional choir songs during a wedding procession
Contemporary presentation of Dikhwaere folk music