American singer hails local dance fest

BY WINSTONE ANTONIO /LYLODY MWALE

AMERICAN teacher Kelly Takunda Orphan has hailed the annual Chibuku Neshamwari Traditional Dance Festival, describing it as one of the unique festivals in the world that has maintained the status of preserving the country’s cultural dances.

Chibuku Neshamwari Traditional Dance Festival is a long-running empowerment programme sponsored by Delta Beverages through their Chibuku brand and co-ordinated by the National Arts Council of Zimbabwe in partnership with the Zimbabwe Traditional Dance Association.

The California-based Orphan was among the guests who attended the dance festival that featured representatives from the country’s 10 provinces on Saturday at
Rimuka Stadium in Kadoma.

Bulawayo-based dance ensemble Ezimnyama emerged the ultimate winners of the grand prize of $15 000 plus a floating trophy.

In an interview with NewsDay Life & Style on the side-lines of the event, Orphan said Chibuku Neshamwari Traditional Dance Festival had stood the test of time.

“I have travelled much of the world to witness culture dance festivals and the Zimbabwe one is the most unique, it has a variety of traditional dances, like
Dinhe, Muchongoyo, Mhande, Mbakumba, Chinyambera and Setapa all done in a single country that has also embraced other traditional dances from other nations,”
she said.

“It was very exhilarating to watch all the dances on one stage. We love these dances even back in the States.”

To show her love for the local culture, Orphan adopted a Zimbabwean name, Takunda during her study period at the University of Zimbabwe where she graduated
with a degree in ethnomusicology in 1994.

“I adopted the name Takunda for the love of Zimbabwean culture. This is the second time to attend this Chibuku Neshamwari Traditional Dance Festival as I am here to record my album,” she said.

Orphan revealed that she had finished recording her 13-track album at Monolio Studio that is owned by local music producer, composer and multi-instrumentalist
Clive Mono Mukundu that features about 10 Zimbabwean artistes like Irene Chigamba, Jacob Mafuleni, Musekiwa Chingodza and Diana Samkange.

“On the album we have music that is inspired by Zimbabwe and a few other cultures, but we use mbira, guitar and drums. The album will be available
internationally and also in Zimbabwe,” she said.

“I came to record the album here in Zimbabwe because I wanted to celebrate the music and people of Zimbabwe and the artistes in Zimbabwe as well. My former
teachers also feature on the album because they are my foundation and I would not be here without them.”

She is currently teaching mbira and other Zimbabwean traditional dances in America and many have fallen in love with the Zimbabwean traditional dances. She
also has serious respect for female artistes who include the late Chiwoniso Maraire, mbira queen Hope Masike and Diana Samkange.

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