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Sunday, March 13, 2016


(The Keeper of the Kumm from Namaqualand)

Unity in diversity – The Playhouse Company’s INGOMA competition adopts social cohesion theme

The Playhouse Company’s 5th INGOMA competition is this year set to be even more than an exciting annual Zulu dance competition; it has adopted the themes of unity in diversity and social cohesion for what is set to be an exhilarating day-long explosion of culture.

Taking place at the SJ Smith (eWema) Stadium in Lamontville on March 19, the competition will see not only Zulu dance groups from far and wide competing for prizes, trophies and prestige, but also a diverse selection of performers from many of South Africa’s different cultures.  The total prize money offered is R129,600.00

“We at The Playhouse Company celebrate the performing arts traditions of all of South Africa’s many and diverse cultures. But while we may come from diverse groups, we also wish to emphasise the importance of social cohesion and unity, in which we wish to play a significant role. To that end, this year, The Playhouse Company’s INGOMA competition will see a wealth of talent from not only Zulu dance groups, but also from a number of other cultural groups, all of whom will be engaged in celebrating our differences while fostering unity among our people,” said The Playhouse Company’s CEO and Artistic Director, Linda Bukhosini.

The event will see colourful, dedicated, energetic Zulu dance groups competing in the various Zulu dance style categories, as well as special featured performers from different cultural origins such as Indian dance group, Nateshwar Dance Academy, The Congo Kwasakwasa Dancers, The Keeper of the Kumm from Namaqualand, Burundian drummers, with whom the Kumm dancers will collaborate, and other popular artforms from the African continent.

The Keeper of the Kumm is a novel (being published later this year by Tafelberg), a feature documentary and a musical theatre adaptation of an epic story. “Kumm” is the word for “story” in the now extinct /Xam language of the Bushman people. The story follows the journey of a sceptical city journalist who is forced to follow the ancestral call of //Kabbo, a 19th Century Bushman rainmaker. In recent times, there has been a revival of the traditional cultures of the Khoe and the San, South Africa’s First Nations. The Kumm dancers echo the essence of this revival with dance that combines modern passion with ancient art-forms like the Rieldans and Nama Stap.

At this year’s INGOMA competition, the Kumm dancers will make their international preview performance debut with a dance piece choreographed for The Keeper of the Kumm by acclaimed choreographer, Alfred Hinkel, winner of the Arts & Culture Trust (ACT) Lifetime Award in 2015. The dancers are members of Hinkel’s and John Linden’s Garage Dance Ensemble of O’Kiep in the Namaqualand. INGOMA audiences can look forward to an extremely exciting and fascinating performance from the Kumm dancers. The Keeper of the Kumm musical theatre project will open at the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown in June this year, and then go on to tour South Africa.

The Congo Kwasakwasa Dancers is a group formed by Congolese refugees living in Howick in KZN in order to pass the time and entertain their friends. Kwassa kwassa (or kwasa kwasa) is a music sub-genre of soukous, and a dance rhythm from the Democratic Republic of Congo that started in the 1970s where the hips move back and forth, while the hands move to follow the hips. It was very popular in Africa in the late 1980s. The words ‘kwassa kwassa’ are said to perhaps have come from the French quoi ça? (what is it?). The dance was created by Pepe Kalle and popularized by his soukous music videos, as well as the videos of Kanda Bongo Man, Viva La Musica, and other Congolese musicians.

In isiZulu, the word “ingoma” literally translates as “anthem’’, but nowadays tends to refer to the many and varied dance styles that exist within Zulu culture, particularly in the competitive arena. Groups who enter the competition will be judged on their performances in the following six dance style categories: oMama Besigekle, uShameni, Ingoma Yesinsizwa, Ingoma Yezintombi, Ingoma Sekhuze and Indlamu.

Traditionally, each particular dance is performed by specific people of a particular age, gender and status, and at a particular time or period such as a season or a month or an event such as a wedding. Body position and movements are highly specific to the particular dance style and region. In fact, even within a region such as KZN, dance styles may vary from village to village. Dance among Zulu people is said to operate similarly to language and as a medium through which to communicate history.

The MCs for the day will be Zimiphi ‘Zim Dollar’ Biyela and Mdu Jali. Admission to the event is free.

The Playhouse Company’s 5th INGOMA competition takes place at the SJ Smith (eWema) Stadium in Lamontville on March 19 from 09h00. For further information call Khulekani Kunene on 031 369 9440 or visit