International Dance Day 2023: The Significance of Dance in Southern Africa

African dance is considered to be the world’s oldest form of choreography. To this day, many tribes in sub-Saharan Africa pass these African dance legacies on to their children from a very early age. However, the genre has spread far beyond the African continent to captivate audiences globally.

Characteristics of African Dance in Southern Africa

African dance is fundamentally distinct from most Western traditions. For example, there is a lack of partnered dance in this genre, specifically concerning male and female pairs. In some instances, you may find that dances are group performances or separated by gender. In fact, in some African tribes, males would perform dances for females and vice versa.

African dance includes everyone. From the youngest to the oldest, In some cultures, it reinforces tribal roles and provides group identity.

Drumming is another prominent feature of African dancing traditions. Except for a few tribal groups like the Masai, drumming is a sophisticated musical art form. But it is also intrinsically linked to dance; most African villages would never have drumming without dance. The djembe and other percussion instruments like the shakera, (a gourd with a net of small shells or stones), are used whenever African dance breaks out in these villages.

The Importance of Song & Dance in Southern Africa

The human voice and body are the most popular instruments used in African dance. Many African languages are considered to be rhythmic or “tonal”. In villages, you may find that the whole tribe dances, even mothers with babies on their backs.

goodbye dance at Nyamatusi

African dance is a form of expression that manifests for various reasons and in various ways. It can be as simple as a work song to make mundane activities like gathering crops or doing the dishes a more pleasant experience, or as intricate as a cultural event or mourning at a funeral. For example, the Agbekor dance is often performed when mourning at a funeral or when a cultural event takes place. This genre of dance is also used when celebrating the movements of warriors, royalty, or welcoming guests.

Authentic African Dance at Our Camps

In our view, it’s simply impossible to separate Africa from its people. Our staff, in-camp, understand this concept all too well. In fact, they have incorporated authentic, African dance into their welcoming of guests at our camps, to embrace and share their appreciation, and heritage with each guest at our camps. Not only, will you be visiting some of the most breathtaking destinations in Southern Africa, but you will also be given a fully-immersive, African safari experience as you’ve never seen before.

The song is a story of a young Ndebele warrior. The warrior’s song is rejoicing in the discovery of his long lost father. When the Ndebele tribes split and separated from the Zulu tribes after Mzilikazi’s raids on neighbouring clans, they settled in Zimbabwe. In their escape from the wrath of King Shaka, who was denied the rewards of Mzilikazi’s conquests, the young warrior and his father would never see each other again. To protect the warrior from agony, the tribe and all of his family hid the truth about his father’s whereabouts.

Years passed as the warrior longed to know what became of his father, and he was suddenly overcome with dreams of his father, “lasemaphutseni ngiyamazi baba”.

His grandmother saw his anguish and longing for closure and whispered to him that his father was fine and had remained in the Zulu lands. joyous moment for the warrior to know his father was alive and well.

Calvet, Somalisa



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Our staff love welcoming guests with African dance. In fact, through dance, they express a part of their culture and story to guests on arrival. Our staff members plan and practice the songs and dances presented at camps all by themselves. They willingly share their African traditions and cultures with all guests at our camps. This is what makes it a truly unique experience.

The welcome received at all African Bush camps properties is nothing less than spectacular, infact the signing often gives goosebumps. Arriving in Botswana or Zambia it is like arriving to choirs who have perfected their songs. They are full of harmonies and welcome you to the camp quite beautifully.  In Zimbabwe the songs make you want to jump out the vehicle and stamp your feet & clap your hands, but the one that touches my soul every single time and beats to the rhythm of my heart is at Bumi Hills. You can hear the drums beating as you are driving in your vehicle up the hill. The staff from every department are singing, there is dancing, feet are tapping, hands are clapping and the passion can be felt as you arrive. The welcome at Bumi Hills is nothing less than spectacular, so much so that you want to join in with the staff and feel like part of the family.

Ive even seen guests joining the staff as they welcome new guests to camp, so the passion is real and you cant help but want to be involved.

Colette Bailey