LAST week the National Arts Council of Zimbabwe (NACZ) and partners graced the City of Kings with the Jikinya Traditional Dance Festival and the children from all over Zimbabwe dazzled us group after group, school after school and region after region amazed with talent.
Indeed Zimbabwe has got talent!
The national finals for primary schools lived up to expectations and NACZ really deserve a pat on the back for a job well done.
Everybody who was involved in putting up the event made it classy and deserving of international standards. Most importantly I saw growth.
I saw improvement from the previous edition held at the same venue last year. The organisers proved beyond doubt that there is progression and a great appetite to honour Zimbabwe’s talented young generation of artistes.
The schools had to compete on a common dance and following last year’s amabhiza that was swooped by Matabeleland South, this year it was jerusarema mbende.
They also had the luxury of an own choice dance and we were treated to a buffet of dances ranging from mbakumba, wosana, dinhe to amabhiza and the warrior dance muchongoyo.
Here was a generation accused of shunning their culture and traditions for foreign dances and music proving us wrong.
From the cutest tiny seven-year-old girl from Masvingo who wowed those in attendance to the young drummer who played his drums like there would be no other day again, I was inspired. This week my article just had to celebrate this achievement!
It is unfortunate that teachers and schools are usually blamed for taking no interest in children’s cultural activities.
They are accused of discouraging children from taking part in the arts, but on that Friday I was not sure if the opinion remains valid or it is slowly becoming a myth.
Let us congratulate our educators for the effort. Those were not just ordinary showcases of traditional dances. Every act spoke of hard work and a lot of investment.
All performances were choreography and had passion that would have many a professional eat their hearts out! Children are malleable.
They will give you as much as you believe in them. All schools showed that they had thoroughly researched on the dances and in some cases even engaged professional artistes to assist them.
Their work said that loudly enough. Schools invested in props and costumes and clearly that showed how much they had embraced the arts as part of the education curriculum.
Our children are in good hands and we must acknowledge and celebrate that.
Ministers also set aside their busy schedules to grace the occasion and many other respected dignitaries spent the day supporting the Jikinya Traditional Dance Festival. I could not agree more with Paul Bayethe Damasane’s proposal that a competition of Jikinya stature had become a need for secondary schools too.
There is no platform for growth and continuity for all those talented youngsters. When they reach secondary and high schools they probably hit a dead end.
We have seen a lot of programmes that develop theatre at secondary school level of late, but the dance genre is definitely lagging behind.
Sadly, this is the adolescent stage of our children’s growth development and the right time to inculcate into them a pride and respect for their tradition and culture. The time is now.
I also wish to challenge more investors to partner with the NACZ and Education ministry in this noble effort they have already set on wheels. The creativity we were indulged in was worth more.
The prizes could be trebled and that will motivate schools to further develop their children’s artistic talents. The current efforts are definitely cherished.
Our media did not disappoint as I saw several news stables covering the event and photographers snapping away the young performers on stage all the way.
That is also appreciated, but I challenge them to go further and profile the winning schools, teachers and individual children who were outstanding on the day. Let us create and brand new stars out of festivals like Jikinya.
Let it be a platform to nurture, expose and discover talent. I, however, wished that even the general public save for just the schools, parents and local artistes could have attended this star-studded event. I know some did, but we could have outdone ourselves.
Finally I challenge all partners involved in organising Jikinya to start thinking and planning on how all the efforts of those winning schools could be combined and consolidated into one. How about Zimbabwe’s own national children dance troupe? We could showcase them regionally and worldwide at different cultural fora.
Nonetheless congratulations to the organisers, schools and children who made Jikinya Dance Festival such a huge success.
Nyandoro Primary School from Mashonaland Central walked away victorious followed by St Joseph Primary School (Mashonaland East), Rusununguko Primary School (Harare) and Sabiwa Primary School (Matabeleland South) respectively.
To me all the schools that took part were winners!