BULAWAYO – Bulawayo-based Ezimnyama Dance Ensemble walked away with the $7 000 first prize after beating 10 other groups in the finals of the 2017 Chibuku Neshamwari Traditional Dance Festival held at White City Stadium.
The last Bulawayo group to win the dance competition was Umkhati Theatre Works which was victorious four years ago.
Harare group, Culture Warriors, which showcased the chinyambera dance, went away $5 000 richer after clinching second position.
The third best dance group at the colourful and competitive national contest was Matabeleland South’s How Mine Chioda which pocketed $3 000.
But there was no doubt that the day belonged to home favourites — Ezimnyama Dance Ensemble. It was second time lucky for the Bulawayo group which unsuccessfully competed in the same contest.
On Saturday, urged on by the home crowd, Ezimnyama did all they could to finally land the coveted title and the accompanying bumper cheque.
The 17-member ensemble, whose member Dadirai Mpandawana took home the Outstanding Female Dancer gong at the Bulawayo Arts Awards in July, impressed the judges and fans alike with a skillful presentation of the setapa dance which has its roots in Matabeleland South province.
Ezimnyama director Phibion Ncube was understandably delighted to take home the big prize at the send attempt.
“We have invested a lot as a group for us to be where we are today. Our victory did not come easily. We competed in this competition in 2015 and we did not make it, therefore we sought services of an expert in this Tswana dance (setapa) and we did exactly what he instructed us to do,” Ncube told the Daily News.
The Ezimnyama director added that the victory had boosted their morale ahead of their forthcoming tour of Egypt.
“Our group, which was formed in 2009, is set to travel to Egypt in November to participate in an event being organised by the Chinese.
“We also hope after this victory to set up an arts centre where we will teach and perform various dances not just setapa,” he said.
Unlike in previous editions, the Chibuku Neshamwari Traditional Dance Festival featured 11 groups instead of 10. After failing to agree on a sole winner, Matebeleland North was allowed to field two groups.
Interestingly, one of the two groups from Matabeleland North — Simunye Arts Ensemble-cried foul after the contest.
“The process was not fair from the start. There was no transparency in all this. We have requested for adjudicators’ mark sheets in vain,” said Simunye Arts Ensemble director Misheck Mponda.
Founded in 1963, Chibuku Neshamwari is sponsored by Delta Beverages through their Chibuku brand and co-ordinated by National Arts Council of Zimbabwe in partnership with Zimbabwe National Traditional Dance Association.