Ngoma Dzapasi wins dance festival


MASHONALAND East outfit, Mbende dance group Ngoma Dzapasi scooped first price after outperforming nine other groups in the Chibuku Neshamwari Traditional Dance Festival held in Harare last weekend.
For winning the competition, Mbende walked away with US$ 4 000.
The much contested show also saw Harare dance group Chitukutuku walking away with US$3 000 while Simunye Arts from Matabeleland South got US$2 000 for being the first and second runners-up respectively.
The other participating dance groups which were drawn from all the country’s 10 provinces How Mine Chimutali (Matabeleland South), Kwekwe-based Zikuwawe Group (Midlands), Ngoma Dzepasi (Mashonaland East), Swerengoma Arts (Mashonaland Central), Red Wing Mine (Manicaland), Mutimukuru School of Arts (Masvingo) and Kadoma-based Nengoma Cultural Arts (Mashonaland West).
Chibuku Neshamwari Traditional Dance Festival is a multilateral programme organised by the Zimbabwe National Traditional Dance Association and the National Arts Council of Zimbabwe and is sponsored by Delta Beverages.
Last year’s edition was won by Umkhathi Theatre Works who impressed the judges after putting up a sterling showcase of a traditional Tswana dance called Setata.
The festival, which celebrated its 51st anniversary this year, is one of the longest running arts sponsorship programmes in the country.
Since its inception, the competitions have helped unearth raw talent.
Meanwhile, one of the favourite groups that delighted the crowd but failed to land the top three, Red Wing Mine (RWM), which featured a dance known as Beni Arinoti, revealed the origins of their style.
The style though fascinating had many asking its meaning and relation to traditional dance.
Leader of the group Amon Mdala said the Beni Arinoti dance originated in Mozambique and was performed by the Yao people after returning from the World War II having been forced to fight on the side of the Portuguese.
He said the Yao, popularly known in Zimbabwe as ‘Machawa’ improvised the dance as a way of telling the society about the events they encountered during the war.
“Beni Arinoti is a traditional style that was named after its founder, Arinoti developed the dance in Mozambique to tell people of the experiences of Africans in the Second World War,” said Mdala.
“All our dances are based on actual events or stories that affect the society.
“Like in Mozambique, the dance was used to showcase the oppression of blacks and brutality of white regime through dramatised dances.
“Each and every step of the dance has a meaning,” he said.
In Zimbabwe the dance is more popular in mining areas and farms.
Mdala said during the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland there was exodus of the Yao people from Mozambique to neighbouring countries such as Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe a situation that led to the spread of the dance into these nations.
“Most of the Yao people who migrated to federation countries were employed in the mines and farms, which led to the emergence and popularity of the dance in these areas” he said.
“The dance was re-born in these areas and this is the reason why most of the dances from Zimbabwean groups are based on telling mining and farming activities.”
He said as the older generation passed on, the dance was passed on to other generations.
“Beni Arinoti has been kept alive by the young generation of the Yao as part of their cultural and traditional practices to honour the life of their forefathers,” he said.
He said some of the dances that were incorporated and modified are based on denouncing white hypocrisy in the post-colonial era.


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