Muchongoyo: The pride of Chipinge

As dawn breaks drums can be heard in the distance as muchongoyo groups prepare for a showdown.


The muchongoyo dance in an age old tradition.
The muchongoyo dance in an age old tradition.

Nothing is as important during the muchongoyo festival as the battle between the Bengeso, Magodo, Nyazvikari, Nyazvindete and Jenya groups.

Big names like Jerusalem Mbende, kwasa kwasa, museve or zora butter dance are of little importance to these locals.

Muchongoyo is one of Chipinge’s oldest cultural dances and it commands a huge following and respect. One of the leading promoters of the cultural dance is former Member of Parliament for Chipinge and local businessman, Wilson Tarugarira Kumbula.

“It is not just about entertainment but a symbol of unity and love for Chipinge people. There will be stiff competition and the winner is always respected,” Kumbula said.

In the past, every clan had its own kundhla (muchongoyo group).

“In a family, mothers and girl children would sing while fathers and boys would share the dance floor. The clans would compete for a mujeki (prize) in the form of doeks which would be tied on top of a tree for every spectator to see,” he said.

Kumbula added that competitions were held as soon as communities finished their work in the fields.

“They would dance all night celebrating a good season and harvests while waiting for the rains to kick start a new farming season,” he added.

Kumbula referred to some of the household Muchongoyo names in Chipinge.

“There was Magodo, Nyazvikari, Bengeso, Jenya, Matsuro and many other groups but the most successful was Bengeso,” he added.

Today Muchongoyo suffers a lack of promotion. Kumbula said he has tried hard to promote the cultural dance through competitions but limited resources had confined his efforts to Checheche Growth point and surrounding areas.

“I promote muchongoyo but it’s only me and a few other people,” he said.

A villager at Checheche Growth Point, Effort Mhlanga, said Muchongoyo was one of the best dances he has ever witnessed.

“We hear about Jerusarema, Mbende and even Zvigure but how often do we hear about Muchongoyo?” he said.

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