Cont Mhlanga and Lupane Traditional girls at the Pupu-Tshangani Carnival

Pupu-Tshangani Carnival. . . Understanding the ritual of the celebration

Langalakhe Mabena
THE retirement and relocation of arts guru Cont Mhlanga (pictured above) from Bulawayo to Lupane the capital of Matabeleland North has resulted in the growth of the arts and culture industry in that society.

One of the treasured cultural gatherings in Lupane is the Pupu-Tshangani Carnival, an annually held ceremony in the month of June in commemoration of the demise of the last King of the Ndebele State, King Lobengula.

The ceremony which started in 2016 is practised in the correct geographical and historical setting which is the Tshangani River where King Lobengula crossed with over 2 000 followers running away from the pursuit of Patrick Forbes and Cecil John Rhodes troops in 1893.

As the carnival practices the events and wars which took place in that era, Cont Mhlanga who is currently the arts patron of the Matabeleland North province schools breaks down the idea and activities of the carnival.

The Pupu-Tshangani Carnival Queen with Lupane traditional dancers

The Pupu-Tshangani Carnival Queen with Lupane traditional dancers

a�?The Pupu-Tshangani Carnival is an annual ceremony not only about the remembrance of the last Ndebele King but ita��s a tourism festival which promotes the Lupane community, in simpler terms ita��s a harvest celebration ceremony combined with the commemoration of King Lobengula crossing the Tshangani River in 1893 running away from colonial settlers army.

Albert Nyathi and the Lupane girls dancing Indlamo at the Pupu-Tshangani Carnival

Albert Nyathi and the Lupane girls dancing Indlamo at the Pupu-Tshangani Carnival

a�?The ceremony, which is usually led by the Carnival Queen with local elders currently is divided into three segments. It starts with the imitation of King Lobengulasa��s Tshangani River crossing where everyone attending the ceremony will be singing the folk traditional song a�?Kudala Kwakunganjea��, this is all done at Ezibukweni lase Mdwadweni which is on the Southern side of the River.

He continued:

a�?When everyone crosses the river just like King Lobengula, we then proceed going North where the King was heading for five kilometres and do another ceremony which will be situated exactly where the battle of Epupu happened then lastly proceed further with seven kilometres to the Battle field of Emntswirini,a�? he said.

In all these battles, there will be traditional creativities showcased including Imbube, Isitshikitsha, Indlamu, Inquzu to mention a few, from the local artistes mainly from the Malunku Ward with also established traditional ensembles also welcomed as long they have a dancing routines which are in line with theme of the ceremony in that year.

On the closing ceremony, there is a promotion of one particular traditional dance which is an idea driven to promote that particular traditional dance, for example, on this yeara��s edition which was held on 23 June, over 120 young girls danced the Indlamo female dance with established poet Albert Nyathi complimenting their performance.

The director of the festival Thembi Ngwabi revealed that the carnival is also meant for interaction of people from different communities and countries as they also have stands that will be selling traditional harvests and crafts, a platform where locals make profit from selling their products.

a�?We also have stands during the ceremony where visitors and tourists will be buying traditional produces and harvests from the local people,a�? she said.

Mhlangaa��s dream for the festival is to make if bigger and better.

He revealed that as time progresses the festival will start at the current place Bulawayo State House, where Lobengulasa��s capital was situated, following his footsteps crossing the Tshangani River expanding further Northwards to near Zambezi River where the King intended to build the Bulawayo capital.

Meanwhile, the dates for next yeara��s ceremony will be announced in January 2019 with the full programme and line up announced in May.

Traditional groups across the country are also welcome to participate in the festival.