Sekunjalo MaAfrica Arts wins Chibuku Neshamwari

Source: The Herald – Breaking news.

Sekunjalo MaAfrica Arts wins Chibuku Neshamwari 
Sekunjalo MaAfrica celebrate after winning the US$15 000 Chibuku Neshamwari dance competition

Melissa Mpofu Bulawayo Bureau

It was an emotional moment at Harare Gardens last Saturday afternoon as some members of the traditional dance group, Sekunjalo MaAfrica, failed to contain their emotions, breaking into tears after being announced national winners of the Chibuku Neshamwari Traditional Dance Festival.

Immediately after receiving their  US$15 000 prize for the performance of their Umzansi dance, some of the female dancers were spotted crying backstage as they could not believe their moment.

“Out of the 10 groups that were here, God chose us. I feel proud of our director because our hard work has paid off,” said dancer Nonhlanhla Moyo.

“We really deserve this considering the sleepless nights that we had. We did all-night rehearsals and would resume in the mornings regularly so we honestly deserve this.”

After containing her tears, another dancer Sisasenkosi Mpofu, who has been with the group for eight years, chanted what seemed like the group’s slogan: “Kancane kancance, siyafika (slowly but surely, we’ll get there/conquer)’.

“We’d like to thank all those who supported us in this journey and my message to people is that in whatever you do, put in all your effort and confidence and it’ll pay off,” she said.

The group’s director, Arnold Ndebele, whose face was full of contentment said winning was a dream come true for the group.

“Winning Chibuku Neshamwari and becoming number one in the country means a lot to us. It means people appreciate the craft that we do and this excites us. As a group we are happy. I for one am happy because I’d been envisioning this for some time,” he said.

“By taking the first position, I knew that more people would start noticing us. I can safely say that we’ve been given keys to open other avenues going forward.”

From this point, he said attention will be on improving their production.

“We want our productions to meet international standards so we’re going to start grooming and perfecting the team as we try to go regional and international and penetrate other markets,” he said.

After having participated in the Chibuku Neshamwari competition for three years, Ndebele said this was their last time to participate as they have achieved what they wanted and now want to give other groups a chance.

“You don’t have to quit while you’re still on the job. This was our third attempt in the competition on a national scale. The first time we never made it to the top three and the second time we were number two in 2016. This time we took the first position,” he said.

He said they will use their prize money to invest in the group which has 19 members.

On second position was Yarira Ngoma Arts, a group from Glen View 1 in Harare which performed a hunting dance, the Chinyambera.

The group, which was formed in 2019, was proud of the achievement as this was their second attempt at the competition.

“In 2019 we made position three in the national finals and we’re proud of taking the second position this time, and winning US$10 000. We’d like to thank Chibuku Neshamwari for sponsoring this event that promotes the country’s diverse cultures as well as the National Arts Council of Zimbabwe,” said Aleck Bhokisi, the group’s spokesperson.

He said the prize money will go a long way in uplifting their group members.

“Some of our members entirely rely on this (dancing) as they have no other jobs so we will boost them with part of the prize money. We’ll also use some of the money to invest in our craft, buying things like uniforms,” he said.

Bhokisi said as much as they would have wanted to give the competition another try next year with the hope of possibly winning, it will not be possible as they will have to give other groups a chance at the provincial level, according to the competition’s rules.

In the third position was Makarekare from Mashonaland East which walked away with $7 500. The group performed the Mbende Jerusarema dance.

“We have been competing since 2008 and we have never left without a prize. We have won the national competition thrice (2009, 2015, and 2018),” said the group’s spokesperson, Mattersettled Nyikadzino.

Asked where they could have fallen short this time around, Nyikadzino said: “This is a competition so sometimes you win, and sometimes you lose. At the end of the day, it’s the judges who decide.”

He said with their prize money, they are planning to record an album.

Other groups who were part of the competition were Jeketera Renyaningwe (Masvingo), How Mine Chihoda (Matabeleland South), Imvimbi dance group (Matabeleland North), Mbada dance group (Midlands), Chivaraidze (Manicaland), Muriel Mine Beni (Mashonaland West), and Swerengoma Dance group (Mashonaland Central).

The competition which was celebrating its 60th anniversary this year was a resounding success.

It was held under the theme, “Bira Remadhanzi, 60 Years Sithokozisa Ngezomgido!” and attracted hundreds of people who were treated to an after-party that featured performances from Selmor Mtukudzi, Nutty O and Jah Prayzah.

Speaking on the sidelines, Delta Corporation general manager-corporate affairs, Patricia Murambinda said: “Chibuku Neshamwari Traditional Dance Festival is 60 years old and we’re excited to be promoting and supporting the country’s arts and culture. Our commitment as Delta Beverages is to support art and culture and the reason why we do that is because we want to preserve traditional dance of the country so that the new generation may know and understand where we came from as a nation.

“The bumper crowd that’s here is a testimony to the achievement that we have done in terms of supporting arts and culture in the country.”

Murambinda advised the winners of the competition to use their prize money wisely.

“My advice to them is to use the money wisely to invest in the traditional dance that has made them win that $15 000 so that we continue to develop arts and culture in Zimbabwe,” she said.