Dance helps to pre­serve tra­di­tions for the fu­ture

Weekend Argus (Sunday Edition) - - NEWS - TSHEGO LEPULE

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.”

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