“You have put me at ease by speaking kindly to your servant—though I do not have the standing of one of your servants.” Ruth 2:13b
On August 19 my friend Gail Farngalo (diplomat at the Liberia Mission to the UN) and I, were treated to a VIP entertainment of Ngoni/Tswana traditional dance extravaganza when the Mission of Botswana, in collaboration with the Battery Dance Festival organized a Saturday Night dance fete.
These Tswana dance steps, beat and songs always remind me of my late grandmother who attempted to teach me the Ngoni ngoma and nsindo dance moves. I even remember how the manner of hand clapping was different from the regular clap-clap-clap; it was clapclapclap clap clapclapclap clap.
The Tswana dancers were indeed a great trip down cultural memory lane for Gail and I who were on the edge of our seats, threatening to jump up onto the stage and join the exuberant glee displayed on faces of the traditional dancers as they weaved in fast movements to the drum beats. In scant coverings and jingling anklets.
In New York. At Pace University.
The dance formation started on a somber note with the dancers telling of the draught situation in Botswana that lead to accusations, and banishment, and near killing of the lone villager accused of holding the rain from heaven.
And one dance formation after another, later the rain finally comes. The evening ends in a celebration as performers and audience join in revelries: the rain has come. One could say we brought the house down with our chants and feet stomping.
Clapclapclap clap! Clapclapclap clap!
Fast forward two weeks and to Ntcheu, Malawi: President Arthur Peter Mutharika presides over Umhlangano cultural celebrations for the Ngoni Maseko on Saturday (at Nkolimbo Village in Ntcheu). During the observation of the Umhlangano the Malawi leader called on Malawians to continue promoting peace and respect for one another in the country.
Additionally, President Mutharika and Inkosi ya Makhosi Gomani V, set free two white doves as a sign of peace. Inkosi ya Makosi Gomani stressed that Ngonis are peace loving people. He also took time to thank the Government for promoting and preserving culture in the country.
“We are privileged to have you our President as guest of honour. Your coming signifies the commitment Government has towards the promotion and preservation of culture in the country,” he said.
The Umhlangano ceremony reminded me of the 16th sustainable development goal that is entitled “Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions.” The goal states holds that “People everywhere should be free from fear from all forms of violence and feel safe as they go about their lives whatever their ethnicity, faith, or sexual orientation.
Governments, civil society and communities need to work together to find lasting solutions to conflict and insecurity……”
The Ngoni communities working together with Government is good and heart-warming. When governments promote the existence of diverse cultures, it inherently promotes peaceful coexistence, creating lasting peace in a nation.
Any time I look back to my grandmother, laboriously working hard to teach me the Ngoni dance steps, it stirs heart-warming emotions as I recall repeatedly crying out “Agogo, I can’t do this dance;” her response was always, “Yes you can, you are Angoni.”
Sure enough, emerging out of a Pace University Auditorium, I mimicked the former familiar dance routines taught by my grandmother, and seen afresh on the dance floor on August 19, 2017, I am a Ngoni; I know the dance drill.
With my Ngwenyama Inkosi ya Makosi Gomani V telling the State President, Ngoni’s are peaceful people, is definitely a call for me to be peaceful, to teach my children and grandchildren to be peaceful. We are Ngoni’s.
Bayathe Nkosi, wawa a Mazulu!