- January 14, 2022
- Posted by: Vambo Academy
- Category: South Africa
Pronounced as: SHI- BE- LA-NI
The Xibelani dance (also known as Shibelani, Shibelana or Shibelane) is an indigenous dance performed by Tsonga women whose community originates in Limpopo, a province in northern region of South Africa. The name Xibelani originates from the Xitsonga language and it translates to “hitting the rhythm”. The skirt worn during these dances is known as “tinguvu” however the word Xibelani can be used to refer to the skirt and the dance.
Historical records of the Xibelani dance date back 14oo’s or earlier when Mozambican tribes were experimenting with musical instruments such as wooden instruments and percussion sounds from traditional drums (swigubu) and xylophones (mbila). The indigenous Chopi people from Mozambique were particularly active in this art and are the documented source concerning the early times of this form of music and dance.
Sources: Mbila – https://digitalcollections.lib.uct.ac.za/collection/islandora-20804
Swigubu – https://www.lovelimpopo.com/rixile-route/
The Xibelani dancers accompany the percussion music with hand clapping and whistles. The Tsonga women tie the Xibelani skirt around their waist and then shake their waist. The design of the skirt makes the women’s hips look bigger and this then emphasizes the shaking during the Xibelani dance. The Tsonga’s perform the Xibelani dance to their own distinct music, Tsonga disco or Tsonga ndzhubha (traditional Tsonga music).
View the video in the following link to view dancers performing the Xibelani dance: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cgNWxXfqo8c
The modern day Xibelani skirts are specifically designed for dancing and have a swirl when the hips are shaken. This dance style method is similar to the Caribbean shake but the Tsonga dance has a faster rhythm and a diverse range of dance routines. Previously it was customary for young Tsonga girls to learn the Xibelani dance, as this dance is seen as a way for them to express pride in their cultural heritage. While the dance is customary for women, some men now also participate in it especially during celebrations. In modern society, the Xibelani dance is an open dance in which everyone can participate.
Source: Hadithi Africa