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Mashamba gogos keep spirit of traditional dance alive

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Seven elderly women from Mashamba are dedicating their time to preserving the spirit of the tshigombela traditional dance by teaching it to the youth. Dressed in colourful attire, the elderly women share their knowledge and skills with anyone willing to learn, especially the young.

The seven women are members of the Mashamba Thondoni Tshigombela Group, which was established in 1981. The group’s main activities include singing praise songs to traditional leaders and providing entertainment. Consisting of roughly 30 members, they perform at various events such as the installation of traditional leaders and cultural celebrations.

One of the eldest women, Muyahavho Mulaudzi (94), said that their cultural dance enhanced the traditional leader’s status and legitimacy and provided educational value to younger generations. She mentioned that their grandmothers had taught them that cultural dances demonstrated loyalty and respect.

“I started dancing at a tender age, as it’s a dance that allows us to celebrate leadership achievements and preserve ancient traditions. These dances reinforce cultural identity and social cohesion by bringing the community together, while also serving as a living record of historical narratives and rituals,” she said.

With many new dances emerging, the group aims to teach more young people, which also gives them a chance to instil good morals. Another member, Thembi Chuma, said that young people were learning to appreciate their culture and keep it alive for future generations through these teachings.

“We also want to keep the youth busy and away from alcohol and other substances. Each dance session is a vibrant celebration of life and culture,” she said.

 

 
 

Seven extraordinary women from Mashamba Thondoni Tshigombela Group donate their time to preserving the spirit of the tshigombela dance by teaching it to the youth. Photo: Thembi Siaga.

 

By: Thembi Siaga

Thembi Siaga started as an intern during 2021. He assisted with video photography and editing. He also produced numerous small documentaries, focusing on the Vhembe region and its people. Currently he works as a freelance journalist, covering stories in the Elim area.

Thembi studied at the Tshwane University of Technology, where he completed his diploma in Journalism in 2021.

 

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