Muchongoyo main dance at 2017 Jikinya festival

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THE forgotten Shangaani clan has a chance to discover its niche as the National Arts Council of Zimbabwe (NACZ) has selected muchongoyo to be this year’s Jikinya Dance Festival act.
Shangaani speaking people are found in remote Chipinge and Chimanimani, as well as parts of Chiredzi and Mozambique and have roots in Zululand from where their founder Soshangane came from when he was sent to raid the Tsonga in Mozambique by Tshaka during Mfecane.
Muchongoyo is one of Shangaani clan’s oldest cultural dances and it commands a huge following and respect.
However, the dance is almost forgotten as communities countrywide have been accustomed to Amabhiza, Isitshikitsha, Jerusalema, Mhande and even Zvigure.
As preparations for this year’s edition of the Jikinya Dance Festival to be held in Bulawayo start, it is the choice of muchongoyo as the main act that is of interest as the Shangaani tribe has over the years complained about being overlooked.
Muchongoyo, whose act includes people performing different well-choreographed moves including spinning oneself in mid-air and going through a bicycle wheel, is not just about entertainment but a symbol of unity and love among Shangani and Ndau people.
Traditionally, muchongoyo was a victory dance performed in preparation for and after war. Today the dance has become a social and recreational performance.
The country’s constitution crafted in 2013 recognises 16 languages while the new education curriculum also puts emphasis on culture and heritage.
The annual cultural event’s objective is to encourage school children to appreciate and perform Zimbabwean traditional dances with the aim of promoting and safeguarding cultural heritage, now part of core education curriculum in school.
NACZ communications and marketing manager Cathrine Mthombeni said this year’s focus is on muchongoyo, a dance with its origin in Zululand during Tshaka’s rein and now predominantly performed by Ndau and Shangani speaking people.
“Preparations for this year’s Jikinya Dance Festival are on course in all provinces. District Jikinya festivals are already being held countrywide in preparation for the provincial festivals and first prize winning schools in their respective province will participate on the National festival that will be held on November 24, 2017 in Bulawayo,” said Mthombeni.Advertisement

Besides muchongoyo, schools will showcase other cultural dances.
“The festival dance was introduced so that all participating children despite their regions can learn, perform and appreciate diverse Zimbabwean cultures through dance. The dances performed should reflect some authentic traditional aspects of a particular ethnic, religious or cultural group in Zimbabwe,” Mthombeni said.
Jikinya Dance Festival is a partnership programme between NACZ and National Association of Primary Heads (NAPH) and is bankrolled by Delta Corporation.