Performing the African Renaissance and the ‘rainbow nation’
in South African performance and archives of memory
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This chapter explores how Thabo Mbeki used the South Africa-Mali project, within the context of the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD), to extend the imagined boundaries of the nation. It focuses particularly on how this was achieved through the Timbuktu Script and Scholarship exhibition. The chapter exemplifies how Mbeki sought to engage critically with particular colonial constructions of Africans to redefine the post-apartheid 'rainbow nation' in positive terms. It compares the cultural exhibition with how South Africa was conceptualised and performed in the opening ceremony of the 2010 World Football Cup. The chapter evaluates the degree to which the formulations of South African identity and history have been adopted generally. It looks at a parallel South Africa-Mali collaboration in the theatrical production of the Tall Horse, and analyses how this theatrical production compares with the African Renaissance project, as it also deconstructs racial stereotypes.

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