School of Movement Medicine - Mindfulness in Motion

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Issue: June 2013
Indaba, My Children

By Richard Pantlin
In appreciation of dancing "Move!" with Suzannah in Johannesburg in April, I would like to offer this extract from what could be the Southern African Bible, the book "Indaba, my children" by Credo Mutwa. The book contains a marvellous creation story and many legends of the tribes of that part of the world:

“The hunting parties had all returned safely and the great gate was securely shut.  The Wakambi were in tense readiness as they scanned the forests below for the first sign of the oncoming enemy.  Night was falling fast and the land was once more shrouded in mystery.

On the high palisades warriors stood to arms - hard-eyed and tense in every muscle - waiting for the Masai to come storming up the slopes of the ancient hill on which the first village stood.  As the night crept across the land with its somber mantle, people became touchy and easily irritated, but they remained hard of eye and grim of face.  The First Village ever built in the land was under the shadow of suspense and was firmly gripped in the cruel claws of the vulture of fear.  Then the people heard a strange sound: a sound that was not of this world, that flowed through the silent dusk like a silver river through a dark forest.

It was a sound such as no human ears have ever heard before. It penetrated the very depths of the soul like cool water down a thirsty throat - like oil, soothing oil killing a cruel pain.  Men stared at each other with incredulous wonder. Others groaned, and wept, blatantly and without shame.

It was the sound of unearthly beauty, and to the surprise of everybody it came from the throat of Marimba!

She had taken the deadly bow of the captive Masai and had fitted a gourd to the bow itself, transforming the deadly weapon of war thus into the first makwenya bow-harp the world had ever seen.  Not only had Marimba invented the first musical instrument, but she was singing the world's first song as well.

... Later ...

Marimba turned the old nut-grinding mortar into the first drum the world had ever seen and for the first time since the dawn of creation the forests shook to the pulsing beat of a drum.   The instrument became so popular with the Wakambi that almost everybody wanted to have a drum in his own hut.  The woodcarvers were very busy indeed....

With the birth of the drum came the birth of new dances in the land of the Wakambi - dances like the bupiro-mukiti or the dance of life, performed by both male and female dancers, or the chukuza ya sandanda, the dance of the baboon which is performed by male dancers only.  This is the most muscle-punishing dance that can ever be performed.  All these dances were invented for one reason only - expression of tribal religion and the release of that beneficial life-force present in every human being, but which, when released, makes one feel closer in 'the arms of Eternity'.”

Richard Pantlin

22 April 2013

Kufunda Learning Village



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The views expressed here do not necessarily represent the views of the School of Movement Medicine. Roland Wilkinson, Nappers Crossing, Staverton, Devon TQ9 6PD, UK Tel & Fax +44 (0)1803 762255 http://www.