Dance helps to preserve traditions for the future
ON WEEKENDS, the Cape Town city streets are a hive of activity, as buskers sing and dance to entertain tourists and those passing by for small change.
For one group of dancers, their act is about more than just earning money on weekends. The Intyatyambo traditional group from Langa consider themselves artistic performers.
“We come here at least twice a month to dance. We are a group of about 30,” explained 18-year-old Nolwazi Simazi. “I joined the group when I was 12 years old, when a friend who had already been going for a year asked me to join her.
“It opened my eyes about myself as a young Xhosa maiden.
“We come to town to perform for tourists, who love joining in and learning our moves – it is a lot of fun.”
Nokuthula Dayimani, who runs a dance school in Site B, Khayelitsha, said she hoped to instil a love for their traditions in the youth through dance.
“Children of today are not really interested in knowing their culture and heritage as African children; all they know about themselves is what they see on television sets,” she said.
“When I first started this back in 2002, I did it because I saw a lot of young children wandering the streets with nothing to do during at weekends and after school and picking up bad habits, like joining gangs and getting boyfriends at an early age.
“So, I gathered a small group from my street and started a dance group.
“As Xhosa people, we have different dances for different occasions, like umngqungqo. This is a dance performed by elderly women during ritual ceremonies. Then there is umdudo. This is usually done at weddings. There is umguyo, done by young boys before going to the mountain, and then there is umxhentso, performed by Sangomas during their ceremonies, and also popular among young girls during traditional ceremonies.
“We are not only teaching these children about dances but about our roots as Xhosa people, about the origins of many of the rituals we still practise. We teach them about what it means to be a young woman and young man and how each of them behaves.
“It goes far beyond just dancing. The songs that they sing also have significant meaning and we teach them to take pride in who they are because living in cities and only going to the Eastern Cape in December, unfortunately, means our children become too modernised and forget our culture.
“If they don’t know their roots, how will they teach their children and grandchildren? This is a way of ensuring our heritage does not die.”