Boniface Chimedza Arts Correspondent
Winners of Chibuku Neshamwari dance festival, Guruve Marimba Arts Ensemble, say art runs in their genes. They beat nine other dance groups from the country, scooping the coveted grand prize of $7 000, coupled with a trip to China. Held in Mutare, the festival had two main categories, namely traditional dance and contemporary dance. The group expressed confidence that they will raise the country’s flag high in China. In an interview, the ecstatic Guruve Marimba Arts Ensemble leader Prince Muzanenhamo expressed confidence that his team will leave the Asian market begging for more.
“We are delighted at the cultural exchange prospects that this prize brings to us. We look forward to giving a great performance in China, which we hope will market and promote our culture, our tradition and our heritage,” said Muzanenhamo.
“When we get on the stage to perform, we are connected. Its magic,” said Muzanenhamo.
Guruve Marimba Arts Ensemble comprises of 30 members, but the performances are done by different members on a case by case basis, according to the dictates of the given performance as well as the requirements of the particular show, competition or festival. Only 15 members participated in this year’s Chibuku Neshamwari dance festival. Some of the members include Cynthia Nyamuzihwa, Clementine Chigorimbo, Sarabhinosi Chimukwende, Lloyd Mayonga, Ginatsiya Nyanhete, Leonard Katanda, Prince Muzanenhamo and many others. Formed in 2006, the vibrant dance outfit continues to hog the national limelight with their amazing traditional dance choreography and cultural attire, which always enthralls the audience.
This is the Group’s second prize; with the ensemble also having won the first prize of USD$4 000 in the 2010 Chibuku Neshamwari dance festival held at Harare Gardens in the country’s capital.
“Prizes help us develop and grow as an arts ensemble. The funds help us to improve and develop our dancing careers. In 2010 we managed to buy a 32-seater Civilian bus which has contributed immensely to the operations and administration of the arts ensemble,” said Muzanenhamo.
Chibuku Neshamwari dance festival is a partnership program between Delta Corporation, National Arts Council of Zimbabwe, Dreamstar and Zimbabwe National Traditional Dance Association. The festival is an annual event that is held at national level and the event has over the years has become a permanent feature on the national arts calendar. Speaking in an interview in Mutare at the festival, the acting communication and marketing manager for National Arts Council of Zimbabwe, Catherine Mthombeni said that the festival was a crucial platform to promote local artists and uphold the diversity of national culture.
“As National Arts Council of Zimbabwe, our role is to support our registered arts organizations. We continue to create opportunities for our art organizations so that the artists will have a space where they can express themselves freely though different activities which are also inclusive of culture,” Mthombeni said.
“Traditional dance is part of our intangible cultural heritage. Chibuku Neshamwari Dance Festival is therefore a necessary safeguarding measure of protecting and promoting our tradition and culture in Zimbabwe, so the more we invest in the program, the more also we are safeguarding who we are as Zimbabweans,” said Mthombeni.
Dance is part of the various artistic categories that is considered, recognized and awarded by the National Arts Council of Zimbabwe through their National Arts Merits Awards (NAMA) platform.
Diversity characterised the Chibuku Neshamwari Dance Festival, with dances such as Gule, Jerusarema Mbende, which is a masterpiece that was proclaimed by UNESCO, Isitshikitsha from Bulawayo and Dinhe which was performed by Mashonaland Central’s Guruve Marimba Arts Ensemble.
Going forward, Guruve Arts Ensemble has plans to have cultural exchange programs with local, regional and international dance groups and subsequently build an arts centre in Guruve, which they say is a way of developing the Guruve community through empowering their artists.