HARARE – Harare-based cultural group Hwamanda Dance Troupe is back in the country after a successful two-week tour of India facilitated by the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) and Indian embassy in Harare.
Hwamanda’s maiden tour of India saw them perform dances such as Mbende-Jerusarema, Muchongoyo, Dinhe and Mbakumba in four Indian states — Gujarat, Manipur, Kolkata and New Delhi.
The Mufakose-based group began their Indian tour with a performance in Ahmedabad in Gujarat after which they moved to Manipur for the eighth edition of the internationally-acclaimed Manipur Sangai Festival which ran from November 21 to November 30.
This year’s edition of the Sangai festival was held in various places in Manipur such as Imphal and Bishnupur so as to promote tourist attraction centres including “the only in the world” floating National Park. Venues hosted the festival, officially opened by Indian President Ram Nath Kovind, included Bheigyachandra Open Air Theatre (BOAT), Takmu Water Sports Complex situated in Loktak Lake where Lakeview Cultural Show was held, Khuman Lampak Sports Complex, Keibul Village and the Trade and Permanent Exhibition Centre at Lamboi Khongnangkhong.
One of the major highlights of the festival was the Lakeview Cultural Show held at a platform constructed on Loktak Lake.
The water body — one of India’s largest fresh water bodies in the North East — is home to the Keibul Lamjao National Park.
The Lakeview Cultural Show was a fascinating combination of indigenous dance and music along with spectacular laser shows and screen projections in the pristine setting of the Loktak Lakethe show was centred on the theme of fishing culture of the residents of Manipur.
In Manipur, locals were particularly impressed by Hwamanda’s performance of the Jerusarema-Mbende dance.
Some people though were uncomfortable with the sexually suggestive elements of the Jerusarema-Mbende dance.
Mbende-Jerusarema is a distinctive Shona dance accompanied by drums and hand clapping; it is usually performed at celebrations, funerals and other social gatherings such as weddings especially in Shona communities in Zimbabwe.
The dance was proclaimed a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage for Humanity by Unesco in 2005.
The well-travelled Hwamanda Dance Troupe manager Linnot Laimbo described the tour as one of their best to date.
The group has previously performed in countries such as China, Denmark, Sweden, Egypt, Seychelles, Algeria, Japan, the United Kingdom, Zambia and South Africa among others.
“We are happy that Indians fell in love with our act and they have invited us again. However, we were confident from the onset of the tour considering that previously we have performed in countries such as China, Denmark, Sweden, Egypt, Seychelles, Algeria, Japan, The United Kingdom, Zambia and South Africa among others,” Laimbo said.