Domestication or transformation? The ideology of Theatre for Development in Africa | Intellect Skip to content
Volume 2, Issue 2
  • ISSN: 2049-3010
  • E-ISSN: 2049-3029



This article explores the postcolonial history of Theatre for Development in Africa. It argues that a form that had been gradually developing as a socialist-inspired means of enabling people in Africa to discuss politics and social issues they saw as important was transformed from the mid-1980s into a largely instrumentalist tool for conveying information and messages determined by Western donor and African governments and international non-governmental organizations. The article discusses who currently controls the majority of cultural output related to Theatre for Development and some of the methodologies used. It deplores the widespread lack of skilled facilitators, the lack of evaluation of process, practice or impact, and the common practice of using Theatre for Development to tell people what outside agencies determine is good for them rather than engaging in dialogue or promoting the use of the arts to enable ordinary people to ‘speak to power’.


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  • Article Type: Article
Keyword(s): Africa; empowerment; ideology; socialism; Theatre for Development
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