Zulu dancing in Japan

2017-06-21 14:17
Ingoma Zulu traditional dancer Protus Mtolo, who works as a security guard at Waltons stationery shop, shows off his skills.

Ingoma Zulu traditional dancer Protus Mtolo, who works as a security guard at Waltons stationery shop, shows off his skills. (Ian Carbutt)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Protus Mtolo's story as told to Nokuthula Khanyile

Pietermaritzburg - Ingoma Zulu traditional dance runs in Protus Mtolo’s veins and remains an important part of his tradition.

The 64-year-old security guard from Bulwer has been an Ingoma dancer for almost half a century and his hobby has seen him travel abroad to showcase his skill.

“I’m originally from Bulwer and where I am from it was customary for young bachelors to dance.

“We regard Ingoma as one of the purest remnants of Zulu tradition and it was also a time for the youth to instil the tradition of sharing experiences and building solidarity through communal dance.”

Mtolo, who was actively involved in Ingoma dance in Bulwer, initiated various traditional dance groups back in the mid-1960s when he started working at the Pietermaritzburg railway station.

“When I got to Pietermaritzburg I formed a group with my colleagues. We won various Ingoma competitions and were even invited to go and perform in Japan for six months.”

He said he travelled to Japan for six months in 1991 with the South African Railways (SAR) Ingoma group.

“It was a surreal moment because with my level of education I never imagined myself ever travelling overseas. The Japanese were very welcoming and displayed fascination with our tradition and traditional attire.

“They would take pictures of us and ask if we could teach them our traditional dance.

“Even though there was political turmoil back home at the time, we were happy to show the world another side to our beautiful country besides the blood baths.”

Mtolo said when they got retrenched at the railway station, the group separated.

“After the retrenchment I got a temporary job at Nestle in 1995. We formed another Ingoma group there but it didn’t last long. That firm also closed down and that was the last group I joined.

“We were known as Zulu charmers. We were famous for our dance. Once we got invited by Selby Goba to do a live performance on Radio Zulu.

“That clip played a couple of times and made us the talk of the town.

“It was an exciting time.”

He said winning competitions back then meant getting an animal to slaughter.

“We would enter competitions and win trophies. Sometimes we would win goats or cows and have a big celebration. I remember once we walked away with R40 000 at a competition that was held in Durban.

“We often shared the money among ourselves, but the trophies were kept by our managers in the office for displays.”

Mtolo, who has since retired from Ingoma traditional dance, said he has been invited to teach it at schools in Bulwer but declined.

“Age is not on my side. I am not as flexible as I was back then. I can’t lift my foot over my head and bring it down hard anymore,” he said.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  pmb people

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.