Mbulelo Mpofu, Showbiz Reporter
THEATRICAL and traditional dance juggernauts Umkhathi Theatre Works are set to celebrate their silver jubilee with a performance at the Bulawayo Theatre today.
The journey has been characterised by graft, sweat, and tears but through it all, the group has been glued by its love for the arts.
Dubbed “Footprints,” the show has been part of Umkhathi’s DNA for years where they retrace their footprints since the group’s establishment in 1997.
The group’s director Matesu Dube said all is in place for the hosting of the show.
“We’re now prepared for the show. Everything is going well and the whole cast is geared up for the performance. The audience should be ready for a good show. We last performed this show in Bulawayo at Intwasa Arts Festival last September before taking it to Harare for a one-week tour,” he said.
It is a rarity for a group to stick together for this long, but Umkhathi’s unity and longevity is one to be admired. Since the group’s formation, only two members remain from the founding members.
Dube said the need to constantly revive a sector constantly threatened by extinction has kept them together.
“The greatest achievement has been keeping a theatre company alive in the last quarter of the century and producing works that have been well received by audiences internationally. Losing members to neighbouring countries to seek opportunities has been one of our challenges though,” added Dube.
The group has performed for diverse markets and is responsible for success stories since they major in community theatre, drumming and poetry as well.
The reigning National Arts Merit Awards (Nama) Outstanding Dance Group has travelled the world, flying the country’s flag high. They have been to the USA, Taiwan, Spain and most recently, India.
Traditional music and dance form an integral part of our social and cultural fabric. For the past quarter of a century, Umkhathi Theatre Works has excelled, staying relevant in the sector while incorporating old and emerging genres in their craft. From Ingquzu, Isitshikitsha to covering Amapiano songs, they have done it all.
They have also been actively involved in philanthropic work as they performed when a UK-based organisation Intuba Trust commissioned a solar-powered water system to aid Mbuyazwe Cultural Village in Luveve last year. – @eMKlass_49