Senior Arts Reporter
Mufakose-based nyau dance group “Dedza” were crowned Harare winners at the provincial Chibuku Neshamwari Dance Festival held at Makuluwani Bar over the weekend.
The group, which is made up of 15 members, scooped US$2 500 and a place to represent Harare at the finals scheduled for Gweru on August 4.
Second place went to Mukabira Nyau group and Gasani Moto were crowned in third position.
In an interview with The Herald Arts, Dedza group secretary Grace Beni said they were excited to scoop the grand prize and now preparing for the finals.
She said the money they won will be used to buy equipment which will also be used at the finals.
“We are so excited that we have won this competition,” said Beni. “Dance is an art and henceforth, especially the nyau dance, people should not look down upon it as it can sustain livelihoods.
“We are going to buy uniforms and equipment such as drums and rattles which we are going to use on the finale. We hope to scoop the prize again. It was a tough competition, but we are happy we managed.”
Beni said dancing was their lifestyle and society had finally accepted them.
“Gone are the days when people used to mock being scared of the nyau culture,” she said. “To us it is more like a lifestyle and we decided to take it seriously. In fact, we are a group of 40 people, but unfortunately only 15 members took part because of limited resources.”
Beni said their dream was to take part on an international platform.
“We want to represent Zimbabwe and definitely we can do it,” she said. “We urge corporates to assist and support local dancers, even relevant art authorities should not shun us away as they sometimes focus on music and television as the only form of art.”
Beni said the group will take a week break before starting to prepare for the finals.
Delta Corporation general manager corporate affairs Patricia Murambinda, whose organisation is holding the dance competition said “Chibuku Neshamwari Dance Festival will hold dance competitions, where participants from across the 10 provinces of Zimbabwe will come through and compete.
The top three winning groups will receive prize money.
“This will then culminate in a national final where winners from the 10 provinces will battle it out to be crowned overall winners.”
Murambinda said the festival had become important in promoting and ensuring that traditional dances, which are one of the local crucial intangible cultural heritages, were celebrated.
“Dance and music have played an important part in the way people interact, celebrate and narrate our past,” she said. “To this end, Chibuku Neshamwari Traditional Dance Festival has kept alive the many traditional dances that define the country and its people.”