BULAWAYO arts ensemble Khangela Abangane In Sounds of African Arts (Kaisa) has been trying to lift itself up with sound performances following the departure of several members for greener pastures.
The ensemble was formed in 2004 by musician and dancer Jabulani Ndiweni, but it is now fronted by Derrick Tembo.
The group did well for three years performing at prestigious events such as Miss Tourism Zimbabwe, before Ndiweni left in 2007 to embark on a solo project.
That marked the beginning of numerous challenges.
The tough economic environment saw the group being shaken with several members emigrating to South Africa and some relocating to Harare.
Only Lovemore Chakaipa, Prince Mhlanga and Miriam Ndimande remained and grew the group to an eight-member ensemble. To date, the ensemble consists of 14 members.
“Over the years we have been through so many hardships such that if we were not focused, the group could have disbanded,” said Tembo.
“The period between 2007 and 2008 was tough for us, but we prevailed and are currently doing fairly well.
“When we started, we would perform for free as we did not worry about money, but did it for entertainment. Eventually we had to charge money to provide for our families.
He added: “One challenge we are facing as a dance group is that people belittle us. We are not respected in Bulawayo, but taken advantage of most of the time. Promoters do not pay us much and some do not pay us at all.
“We have now adopted a policy whereby we demand payment upfront before staging a performance.”
He said they wanted to make the group a fully-fledged entertainment company that provides full catering, with complete sound system, video filming, tents and all.
“That way we will be respected,” he said.
The ensemble was one of the groups that headlined the Human Rights Day commemorations at the Amphitheatre in Bulawayo on Wednesday.
They shared the stage with the Cool Crooners, Thandanani, Victory Siyanqoba, Umkhathi Theatre Works group and dub poet Albert Nyathi.
They have previously performed as curtain raisers for popular South African DJ S’bu, Mandoza, Dan Tshanda, Black Umfolosi and Tongai Moyo.
The ensemble performed at the Umthwakazi Arts Festival in 2009 and the Simon Muzenda Marathon in Zvishavane.
The group is based at the Inyathi Youth Centre in Mpopoma where it holds rehearsals every Monday to Thursday.
Tembo said they were inspired by widely travelled South African performing arts group Umoja and Umkhathi Theatre Works.
Kaisa launched a campaign in May this year aimed at educating young people in communities about the risks of drug abuse and encouraging them to live a drug free life.
Tembo said the use of drugs had highly contributed to most school leavers in the high-density suburbs being unemployed.
“We have seen a trend in the youths who abuse drugs in Njube, Mpopoma and Makokoba; particularly those that use ngoma and mbanje,” he said.
“These young people do not work, therefore, steal or rob people for them to buy these drugs. That is deplorable.”