By Admire Kudita
Last Friday all roads led to the National Arts Council of Zimbabwe’s (NACZ) 2017 National Jikinya Dance Festival in Bulawayo at the Amphitheatre.
The annual showcase of traditional dance, as rendered by primary school children, is a much-anticipated calendar event aimed at inculcating a sense of cultural heritage in children.
The Jikinya Dance Festival commenced in 2002 as a partnership programme between NACZ and the National Association of Primary Heads (NAPH) with sponsorship from Delta Corporation.
This year’s festival theme: Building Zimbabwe Through Dance, epitomises the organisers’ desire to inspire communities to participate in safeguarding intangible cultural heritage values and norms through traditional dance.
Emanating from all the country’s 10 provinces, schools battled for top prize and performed dances of their own choice along with Muchongoyo.
Ten schools participated at this year’s Jikinya Dance Festival, having emerged victorious in their respective provinces. Muchongoyo is a dance that is popular among the Shangani of Zimbabwe’s eastern Highlands and Mozambique, though its origins are traced back to KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa.
It is a war dance. Children from various schools gave standout evocative performances that had the crowds on tenterhooks in an indication of how much schools are investing in aunthetic cultural education.
Top honours were taken by Gaba Primary School (Masvingo), which received a floating trophy, prize money and gold medals for each of the participating children and their teachers.
Mbimba 1 Primary School (Matabeleland South) came second and also received a floating trophy, prize money and gold medals for each of the participating children and their teachers.
Chiedza Primary School (Midlands) was third with a floating trophy, prize money and bronze medals for each of the participating children and their teachers. Gaza Primary School (Manicaland) snagged the fourth prize, which also had a floating trophy, prize money and copper medals for each of the participating children and their teachers.
Gaba Primary School from Masvingo also won the Proffessor Hope Sadza Trophy for Outstanding Common Dance.
Individual prize winners were the likes of Kundai Felistas Mugabe, Best Coach, Gaba Primary School, Masvingo, Gilbert Kaseke, Best Drummer, Manyame Primary School, Mashonaland West, Allejandara Jaure, Best Boy Dancer, St Joseph Primary School, Mashonaland East and Ashley Tinarwo, Best Girl Dancer, Gaza Primary School, Manicaland.
The guest group was 2017 Chibuku Neshamwari Dance Festival champions Ezimnyama Dance Ensemble, which drew notables from the social, corporate and government sectors such as cultural guru Pathisa Nyathi of Amagugu Heritage Centre based in Matopos, Delta Corporation board member Todd Moyo, Zimbabwe Tourism Authority chief operations officer Givemore Chidzidzi, director of the Zimbabwe College of Music Rachel Chingwanda, to name a few.
Delegates from the National Arts Council of Zambia Florence Sinkala and Mwiche Chikungu, in Zimbabwe on a cultural exchange visit, also graced the occasion.