By Burzil Dube
A MARRIAGE that lasts for 10 or more years is said to rarely become asunder, but continue flourishing certainly and becomes a beacon or shining example for the whole community in terms of long term matrimonial etiquette.
On closer analysis, Yours Truly might tend to agree with such school of thought as most marriages that would have clocked a decade are destined for eternity or the proverbial “happily ever after” like what we used to read in several yesteryear folklore stories.
Pezhuba Pachena, a Hwange-based cultural ensemble group this month clocks 10 years since its inception and is headed for dizzy heights despite odds stacked against them in this challenging economic environment.
Just like a decade old marriage life, which has managed to weather the storm, Pezhuba Pachena has also defied odds and is now among best artistes within Matabeleland North province as well as beyond the country’s borders.
This aluminum or tin jubilee comes at a time when the group is on a crusade to play a pivotal role in promoting the country’s tourism industry, which had taken a knock due to the Covid-19 pandemic that saw a rapid decline in tourist arrivals.
The group is mainly composed of members drawn from Tonga and Nambya communities whose thrust is to provide entertainment and its originality can be traced from these two tribes.
Yours Truly has decided to dedicate this week’s column to Pezhuba Pachena whose contribution to the tourism and entertainment world continues to rise as evidenced by the number of accolades amassed since its inception.
More on that at a later stage in this particular column!
Lucky Munzabwa, the troupe’s artistic director was over the moon when narrating how it started a decade ago when they decided to wean themselves from another Hwange-based theatre group as part of diversification.
“We started as an all-male acapella group and later decided to infuse some of our Tonga and Nambya songs with marimba and isitshikitsha, among others,” said Munzabwa.
However, it is the ensemble’s homegrown imbube and isitshikitsha, which is gradually taking the country by storm, especially among foreign tourists judging by the amount of feedback received from visitors.
“Pezhuba Pachena is a Nambya word, which means ‘in the open sun’ was. It was formed in May 2012 as an all-male acapella (imbube) group,” said Munzabwa.
“Since we couldn’t find any market for imbube, we decided to infuse our Tonga and Nambya songs with marimba.
“This proved to be popular in our shows and we had to recruit females as some of the songs were high pitched.
“Our 10-year journey was full of adventures. We also learnt of things, especially in the uncharted world of tourism with inroads having been made both locally and in neighbouring countries as well.
“However, since our journey started, there were good times and bad times. We made friends on the way, struggled, people joining us and we also collaborated with former members on some projects as we sought to promote and develop the arts industry.
“The group will always be indebted to Reeds Dube, who managed to provide us with our first traditional attire and has been supportive in times of need.”
Dube is a well known Hwange businessman, who assists upcoming artists based in the coal mining town.
Pachena are the current defending champions of the Best Dance (Ensemble) Chibuku Neshamwari Traditional Dance-Matabeleland North province and they were also third best dance ensemble in the same competition in 2018.
Infact, they scooped most of the province’s traditional dance competitions and continue to be a force to reckon with.
They also participated in national concerts such as Intwasa Festival, Hurungwe Arts Festival, Zambezi Arts Festival (Kasane in Botswana), Shangano Arts Festival among others.
Some of the female members who have “stuck” with group are Londokuhle Tshuma, Abgail Tshabalala, Nothando Sibindi and Bertha Phiri.
As part of ploughing back to the community, Munzabwa said they would be conducting free shows out surrounding schools and also assisting in Continous Learning Assesment Activity, especially on issues related to traditional dancing.
And true indeed.
Till we meet again in the next column.
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