Ubuntu and the cinematic dramaturgy of Elelwani

Access full-text article here


Peer-Reviewed Research


In this article the author shows how the dramaturgy of Elelwani (wa-Luruli 2012) challenges theories around narration and audience interaction as articulated in the analysis of North American and European films, instead presenting a cinematic dramaturgy uniquely African. This is done by drawing upon two distinct, and often juxtaposed, modes of narration ‒ the classical linear cause and effect narration as exemplified by many Hollywood productions, and art-cinema narration based on symbolism and artistic expression (Bordwell 1985; 2005). In particular, the article draws on Israel’s (1991) philosophical distinctions between the Anglo-Saxon narrative with links to a Cartesian dualism between body and mind, and the epic-lyrical narrative linked to Hegel. It is argued that the dramaturgy of Elelwani not only overcomes the Cartesian dualism by giving the individual an active role in the knowledge creating process in the Hegelian tradition, but also draws on, as well as moves away from, a multi-layered epic-lyricism steeped in a European worldview of the self, and instead presents a novel, and uniquely African, dramaturgy steeped in a relational ethic and conceptualisation of self, linked to the Southern African philosophy of ubuntu.