LOCAL dancer, Kudzanai Chikowe’s dream to fly Zimbabwe’s flag at the world’s biggest dance fiesta — DanceStar World Dance Masters in Porec, Croatia — went up in smoke after he was disallowed to board his connecting flight in Kenya.
BY WINSTONE ANTONIO
The 20-year-old dancer was supposed to join the 10 African finalists selected in 2016 under the Breaking Down Borders initiative run by former DanceStar winner and ambassador for Africa, Paul Modjadji, in partnership with the Jibilika Dance Festival.
This becomes Chikowe’s failed fourth attempt to display his dancing skills at the global showcase after he failed to participate during last year’s event having missed his flight on three different occasions.
He was supposed to rub shoulders with about 7 000 participants from over 55 countries for competitions and seminars sponsored to a whopping €50 000.
Jibilika founder, Plot Mhako yesterday confirmed the development, saying the dancer was wrongfully held in a foreign airport for 72 hours without a proper meal, although his travel documents were in order.
“When Kudzi arrived at Nairobi Airport in transit to Amsterdam and, later on, to Venice KLM Dutch Airlines denied him access to his next flight claiming his Visa was not valid,” Mhako said.
“The airline then went on to ask him several questions about where he was going, why he was traveling alone, how many people were competing in the competition, where he got his Visa and why the Visa was not processed in Pretoria. Then they refused him to board the flight and told him return to Zimbabwe on the first flight,” Mhako said.
Chikowe called the Jibilika programme manager, Vera Chisvo, to inform her of the development, but the officials at the airport refused to speak to her over the phone.
Chisvo then called the authorities at the Nairobi airport and asked for assistance, but she was referred to the immigration department, which said they were not responsible, blaming the airline.
“Vera then proceeded to call the airline and … they informed her that his (Chikowe) paper work was not valid and he was unable to answer questions asked by the airline. Vera challenged their reasoning, as Kudzi had two stamped letters from the Embassy of Italy and an invitation letter from the dance competition in Croatia,” Mhako said.
Mhako said when Chisvo was told that Chikowe’s paperwork could only be verified in the morning between 0000hrs and 0200hrs, she then called for the assistance of two coordinators of the dance competition in South Africa, who followed up the issue.
He said after going through a lot of bureaucratic bottlenecks, Chikowe’s papers were finally cleared.
“The dance competition organisers then booked him a new ticket for May 23 boarding at 2350 to Amsterdam. Kenya Airways had cleared him and his paperwork, but at 1800hrs, Kudzanai was again denied access by the same airline under the same conditions. Nthabiseng then called Kenya Airways and asked them to assist, but to no avail.”