Song and dance for heritage

2014-11-23 15:00

Leon Sadiki photographs a group of migrant workers who use movement and song to keep the memories of their homes alive

You can see the musclemen from the M2 highway as you look down from George Goch Hostel, 5km out of Joburg’s city centre.

Bare-chested, their feet stomp the dusty ground as they move with precision to the loud thump of a drum beat.

They sing songs that describe the rocky mountains of Bergville in northern KwaZulu-Natal, where they come from.

Ingoma is what they call it, the Zulu word for a song.

In the forefront is 63-year-old Manqimba Hlongwana, a migrant labourer from eMangwaneni village.

Hlongwana, a hostel dweller for the past 30 years, is known for his cultural style, which seeks to educate and promote cultural values through music and dance.

His group is called Ingoma yaseMangwaneni, named after their place of birth.

They meet every Sunday on a field next to the old George Goch Stadium.

The hostel comes to life at sunset. Fellow hostel dwellers gather in numbers to cheer and sing as the group brings memories of home through song.

“I want the young ones to know where they come from; to stop being involved in criminal activities,” says Hlongwana.

Young men who are part of the group find it difficult to keep up with Hlongwana as he constantly shouts at them whenever they step out of line.

This group is one of many across hostels in Gauteng that use song and dance to reignite their traditional values.

It also gives them an opportunity to meet and reminisce about village life.

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