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Celebrating Life

in Each of Us and Beyond

In the DRC, this type of practice is a poetic genre and it is called Kasàlà. It is widespread in Subsaharan Africa, where it has different names, such as Vivugo (Tanzania), Amazina (Rwanda), Izibongo (South Africa), Oriki (Nigeria), Taasu (Senegal), etc., with a variety of nuances. It seems quite common in Afro-descendant communities. It is generally translated as Praise Poetry.

By the way, a typical form of the contemporary Kasàlà, which was developed in the course of a long practice, corresponds to the simple formula K=O+S (where K means kasàlà, O the celebration of the Other in the boarder sense, and S the celebration of Self) S is called poetic "signature". That being said, one remains free to create just part O or part S of the formula. Moreover, O and S can be reversed or repeated inside the poem. Note that the main feature of a formula is its concision, and that the kasàlà's essential components are poetic or strong names, which are strongly condensed formulas. When developed individually, S can form a poetic curriculum vitae or a poetic autobiography. Poetic means that the text should be sober, condensed, exempt of any noise, that is, limited to what is essential, while using various poetical devices to convey a particular message, and allow the audience - or the reader - to experience beauty and wonderment. Concision and silence are also made possible by the appropriate use of poetic names, which are also called strong names.

The Kasàlà as we practice it stems from a comparative study of African literatures and thought. Enriched with the finest heritages from other world cultures, it is a way of expressing philosophy, Ubuntu, beauty, gratitude, politics or dignity, while exhorting the person to an action on her- or himself as well as on society. It is a posture of wonderment and celebration of life under its multiple manifestations. It is also a meditation on life as a phenomenon. In other words, it is a path.

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