Efforts to revive traditional dance in some areas of the country are being derailed by religious beliefs among some sections of the community whose values go against traditional practices. The trend has added on to the multitude of challenges threatening the survival of the traditional dance sector in Zimbabwe, chief among them the lack of adequate funding.
The threat posed by modern religious beliefs to the traditional dance sector came out during an interview with Mary Maponde, a dance trainer at Chogugudza Primary School in Mashonaland East Province. Chogugudza Primary School was voted Centre of the Year for 2011 at the Chipawo annual awards held in the capital last year.
Maponde said membership of traditional dance groups in the area was dwindling, as most of the young performers in the area belong to Apostolic families whose religious beliefs discourage traditional dance practices. “Their parents do not want them to participate in traditional dance practices which they would like to see as evil.”
As a result, she said there are quite a number of talented students in the area who are willing to perform the traditional dances but are faced with the huge obstacle of strongly-held religious beliefs among their families from such sects as Johane Marange, John Maso0we yeChishanu and Mugodhi.
“What this means is that a lot of talent is going to waste.”
The Zimbabwe National Traditional Dancers Association (ZNTDA) chairman, Kenny Kachuruka, also expressed concern that religious beliefs, especially among members of the Apostolic sects, were stifling growth of the traditional dance sector. This he said does not only stifle growth of the traditional dance sector, “but the growth of the child as well”.
“I think it’s a very serious misconception that comes with its own negative repercussions on the child. Traditional dance is a form of identity and nothing is sinister about that. We have a lot of people in this country who are making a living out of it and it’s very unfair for parents to deny their children the chance to show off their talent,” he said.