15 years dancing to the African beat Ezimnyama Dance Ensemble celebrates

Mthabisi Tshuma, [email protected]

IF you ever hear the sound of drums, claps and chants coming from Matshobana, a humble suburb in Bulawayo, you are in for a treat. That is the sound of Ezimnyama Dance Ensemble, a group of talented dancers who have been making waves with their African moves for 15 years.

They were born in 2009 out of the vision of Phibion “Fobie” Ncube who wanted to share his passion for African culture and dance. They did not let the hard times that Zimbabwe was going through stop them from following their dreams. They have been shining on local and international stages with their energetic and captivating performances. They are the pride of Bulawayo and Zimbabwe and they are not slowing down.

They have built a loyal fan base in Bulawayo, Matabeleland and the whole country with their energetic and captivating performances. They have also crossed the borders and travelled to Europe where they have showcased their talent and culture. For them, dancing is not just a hobby but a profession and a way of life. They always give their best, whether they are on stage or in the studio.

The group consists of 17 members, including 10 dancers and seven administrators. The dancers are Faith Dube, Ntokozo Maseko, Dadirai Mupandawana, Angela Sibanda, Faith Moyo, Passmore Maseko, Josam Mwanza, Julius Hlabangana, Samson Mandongwe, Kelvin Moyo and Alex Nkiwane. The new recruits are Milka Tshuma, Alfred Ndlovu and Kotsho Sivako. The administrators are Amanda Ncube (manager), Sthandweyinkosi Moyo (administrator), Munyaradzi Chibuswa (programmes officer) and Fobie (director).

Saturday Leisure spoke to the group as they celebrate their 15th anniversary and asked them what makes them stand out in the industry. Fobie said their dedication to promoting the African culture, especially the Zimbabwean and Southern African dances, has been their driving force.

“As Ezimnyama Dance Ensemble we pride ourselves in showcasing Zimbabwean and Southern Africa dances.

“Our work is mainly made from human voices, hand clapping and foot stamping. Ezimnyama Dance Ensemble is committed to preserving African traditions particularly folklore music and dance. Over the years we have managed to receive nominations and scoop numerous awards nationally and internationally,” said Fobie.

He said they gained popularity after three years of hard work and learning.

“Our first job was in April 2009 at Kingdom Hotel in Victoria Falls. In 2012 that’s when our work started to be well appreciated and this was after we created one of our best acts called Amapoyisa. From there onwards each and every day we started to be recognised by different organisations who wanted to work with our brand.

“In 2014 and 2015 we appeared at Intwasa Arts Festival koBulawayo and our performance was a superb one thus we received invitations from different festivals around the country,” he said.

Fobie said from 2014 onwards, things started to go well for them.

“In 2014 we were crowned Best Contemporary Group during Bulawayo’s 120 years celebration. In 2017 we received our first nomination at the prestigious National Arts Merit Awards (NAMA) and from there we gained more confidence.

“2017 we were crowned Chibuku Neshamwari National Champions and we were so overwhelmed by the success. In 2018 we won the Roil Bulawayo Arts Awards (BAA) Outstanding Dance Ensemble gong. In 2019 we retained the Chibuku Neshamwari National Champions crown,”he said.

Fobie said this inspired them to write a play that has been the highlight of their career.–@mthabisi_mthire

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