Mine dancers


Diana Newton
Mzumba Dancing, 1977
Felt pen
(5.3 x 8.3 inches)
(13.5 x 21 cm)

This sketch was produced during an awe-inspiring, two-hour performance of traditional mine dancing at a gold mine compound near Krugersdorp. I'm not sure why I've called it "Mzumba Dancing". Eighteen different dances are listed in the brochure I bought so many years ago at the compound, but none of them is called Mzumba. Could I have drawn two Tswa dancers, from southern Mozambique? Their dance is called an Inzumba or Ngalanga and it is performed to commemorate the kindness of the Tswa who protected a neighboring tribe, the (xylophone-loving) Chopi, from the rampages of the Shangaans. I don't remember all the dances, but I do remember that the music (involving drums, whistles, rattles, guitars, xylophones, pipes, sticks, shields, gumboots, and choirs) was something of a revelation to me. I had never heard anything like it before and promptly bought a vinyl record ('African Tribal Dancers') to take back to my flat in Botswana, where I listened to it over and over again. Is the record still in my mother's home, stored for safe keeping among her own collection? I'll have to check next time I visit. With a bit of luck, I'll be able to listen to the music again and bring hundreds of dancers "back to life" for a brief spell.