In the Tri-nation Cup countries, the ex-Briitish colonies of South Africa, Australia and New Zealand, "high culture" is a new and fragile thing. It came a shock to me, a while ago while in NZ when I realised that many of the "state' theatre, ballet and opera companies of both countries, the torch bearers of the this sort of culture, are recent creations of the 1950s and later, and funding for the bodies seemed to have peaked in the 70s and 80s.
In that context I was interesed to read the comments of Jacques de Vos Malan, formerly director of the Cape Town Symphony Orchestra and recently appointed CEO of the Melbourne Recital Centre. The Cape Town Orchestra has closed, "the opera company has also gone, and many professional theatre and dance companies are closing down." Mr de Vos Malan moved here after "losing faith in the African renaissance".
He described his daughter now "as having that fantastic self-confidence that Aussie kids have from growing up in a safe and secure country".
What we define usually has "high culture" has a very European bias.
Chinua Achebe has of course just won the Booker Prize for Fiction. Nadine Gordimer, one of the judges said: “Chinua Achebe’s early work made him the father of modern African literature as an integral part of world literature."