Mozambique Musings – Xibelani Dance


Mozambique Musings - Xibelani Dance International boundaries of a country is not that important when it comes to Africa. Here the groups or tribes often spread out across two, three or sometimes several countries. This applies for the Tsonga people also as their presence can be felt across South Africa, Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Swaziland and Mozambique.

During my 2007 Eastern Africa trip I happen to meet a group of Tsonga dancers from Mozambique, dressed in a uniform the group of women danced to the drum beats of their male counterpart. This was something new to me as the dancers were only shaking their hips all throughout the song and had no other hand movements. Their hips shook perfectly with every beat of the drum and I am sure you will forget Shakira once you see these women shaking their hips.

1Women Performing the Xibelani Dance
Women Performing the Xibelani Dance – (Laura SA – Wikipedia)

This form of dance is known as Xibelani and this is the main indigenous dance of the Tsonga. A special kind of skirt known as Tinguvu is worn which makes the hips look much bigger and all the open thread creates an illusion when the hips are shaken thus emphasizing the dance moves.

Women Performing the Xibelani Dance
Women Performing the Xibelani Dance
Women Performing the Xibelani Dance
Women Performing the Xibelani Dance

Tsonga people start teaching the dance to young Tsonga girls at a very early age and that might be the reason why all of them were dancing perfectly and in tune with each other. Xibelani is specifically a women’s dance which is performed during all important Tsonga ceremonies. Tsonga men do the Makhwaya dance which is slightly different but equally fun to watch.

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