Dance, culture ignites global meeting

Visitors pose for photographs in front of a statue of Nelson Mandela in Sandton, Johannesburg, 2013. [Reuters]

At the official opening ceremony for Meetings Africa in Sandton, South Africa on March 1, guests were treated to the gyrating moves of the Tswana dance.

Performed by the Amakhono We Sintu troupe from one of South Africa's famous townships, Alexandra, the Dikoma dance originates with the Tswana people who live in South Africa’s Northwest Province and Botswana.

The Dikoma was traditionally sung by men during important events including war victories, weddings and in marking important cultural events. It was also danced during events that relate between society and the spiritual powers.

During their dance at Sandton Convention Centre, the group’s dance moves included the beating of drums and gymnastic moves with a modern twist. Like many African traditional dances, the dancers wore traditional clothing while they tied jingling instruments on their ankles to amplify the moves.

“Men traditionally sing dikoma, songs in which the main themes concern hunting, conquering enemies and commemorating other important social events in the life of the community. Women sing ceremonial songs, such as birth and initiation (bojale) songs, as well as occupational songs as they execute their daily chores such as weeding, harvesting, winnowing, pounding and stamping sorghum,” states Music in Africa, a platform for musicians and contributors to embed music and videos for promotional purposes. 

Like the rest of Africa though, the Southern part of the continent is slowly losing such traditional dances with groups like Amakholo fighting to retain such customs in a very modern society. In Kenya, few communities such as the Maasai and Samburu practice traditional dances, with such dances being left to schoolchildren as part of the Competency-Based Curriculum education system.

“We are slowly losing our culture,” said a convention delegate from South Africa. “We used to perform such dances during my school days, but children no longer practice them. We only get to enjoy such dances during official events like this one.”