How to dance in bed zambian tradition

Mganda Traditional Dance – Mwizenge S. Tembo


  • 1 Mganda (view on YouTube)
  • 2 How to Dance Mganda
  • 3 The Origin of the Mganda Dance
  • 4 Characteristics OF Zambian Traditional Dances
  • 5 Functions of Mganda
  • 6 References

Mganda (view on YouTube)

Synchronizing their movements with the louder and more powerful drumming, the dancers vigorously go through dazzling movements somewhat depicting military like drills, then they swing around injecting some of the African traditional rhythmic gyrating movements. All the while the dancers use whistles to accentuate and time some of the smoothly choreographed movements. This explosion of intense action and energy might last up to a few minutes depending on the length and sequence of the steps of the dance. Then there is a lull in the dance as the performers slow down to start the cycle again by singing the song or starting a new one. It is at this time, that young beautiful women using their clean well pressed handkerchiefs, might wipe the sweat off the brow of a particular drummer or dancer. This is every young dancer’s dream. Individual members of the audience may also place small sums of money in a particular dancer’s palm as a reward for his good or particularly outstanding dancing during a preceding sequence. This is known as kusupa.

Music and dance are perhaps the most universal of the creative nature of humans. Rural traditional people of Zambia are no exception. In spite of the dramatic social changes that have influenced many urban dwellers, Zambian rural people have maintained their traditional dance and music.

What would you do for entertainment on a Sunday afternoon if you did not have the movie theater to go to, open air rap concerts to attend, the VCR to watch a video movie, or TV to watch sports? If you lived eight thousand miles away among the Tumbuka, you would either be watching or dancing the mganda. I encountered the fascinating mganda dancers when I was travelling in the Lundazi rural district in Zambia. Traditional Zambian dance has not remained static. The people have adapted to modern influences thereby incorporating modern styles and synthesizing them with the traditional ones. One such excellent example is that of the mganda dance common among the Tumbuka people of the Lundazi district of the Eastern Province of rural Zambia. As is common in most of Africa, the Tumbuka straddle the international boundary between Zambia and Malawi. This is why the mganda dance is also common in parts of Northern Malawi.

How to Dance Mganda

Each group of mganda dancers from a village usually select a Jitedi which is a Tumbuka derivation from the English adjudicator. This is the leader of the team who acts almost as a conductor and has the most prestige. Once the dancers arrive at an open-air spot where they are going to perform, they form lines in rows ranging from three to five. The dancers are all neatly dressed in uniform colorful clothes. The audience makes a circle around them. The Jitedi will make sure the drummers are ready, that everyone has a baja, which is a kazoo made out of dry gourd and a white thin spider’s membrane. The Jitedi will also make sure the young men with sticks are ready and that a number of members of the dancing team have whistles.
The dance starts with moderate drumming, and then a song, which might have the following lyrics:
Anya Mu Nyirongo, Anya Munyirongo, Yahole-e-e
Mwadabila bele Yahole-e-e
Mwadabila bele Yahole-e-e
Lady Nyirongo, Lady Nyirongo
You admire your breasts
You admire your breasts

The lyrics are about a young beautiful woman whose name is Nyirongo who has so much vanity that she admires her own breasts. The song is then sung by the dancers again using bajas. The singing might take up to five minutes building a sense of anticipation in the audience. Then the climax of the dance follows. Most dancers experience ecstasy during this stage of the dance as though they were in an all consuming trance as this mganda dancer shows at Mwase mphangwe about forty miles south of Lundazi.

Like many other countries of the world, Zambia has many traditional dances. In each of the nine provinces there might be up to five major dances spread over several tribes. Some of the major characteristics of the dances are that they are performed either by men or women, some are for pure recreation while others are for exorcizing evil spirits or initiating of girls into womanhood. Some of the dances are old and others relatively new in that they came to being with the arrival of European influence barely forty to fifty years ago. The lyrics of the music are a commentary on significant social and political events of the time and therefore reflect the indigenous people’s perspectives. All these dynamic characteristics reflect part of the richness and complexity of African cultural traditions. Much of this traditional music now forms the basic foundations of most modern and contemporary African rhythms which are enjoyed world over.

The Origin of the Mganda Dance

The mganda dance is a classic case of the creative capacity of human beings. Britain, up to October 24, 1964 was a colonial power in the then Northern Rhodesia. During the Second World War, many young men among the Tumbuka were conscripted into the army to fight on the side of the British. The young men fought in North Africa and in places like Burma in Asia. The men came back to the villages with new knowledge about military uniforms, yelling commands, parades, drills, whistles, carrying and use of rifles. All these new experiences inspired the birth of a new dance; the mganda. The name of the dance is derived from the Tumbuka language term ganda which means “to march like soldiers.” The name of the dance is also depicts the loud boom sound from the large marching band style drum that is used during the dance. The dance is also sometimes known as malipenga or trumpets. Lipenga or plural malipenga are an equivalent of Western trumpets used in marching bands. The equivalent traditional instruments known as baja or kazoos were first used by the lake side Tonga of Northern Malawi.

The mganda synthesized some of the traditional rhythmic dance movements with modern military drill-like movements. The product was a dance that incorporates the vigorous energetic synchronized movements of young men who use two and a half foot swagger sticks mimicking the handling of rifles in an army drill. There are also older men who have more gentle relaxed movements. When all of this is mixed with the drumming, unique traditional instruments known as baja, a kazoo made out of dry gourd, songs with traditional lyrics, African rhythm, ambience and festive atmosphere, you have tremendous electricity, excitement, and sheer enjoyment.

Characteristics OF Zambian Traditional Dances

Like many other facets of traditional customs, practices and lifestyles anywhere in the world, modern experiences have influenced Zambian traditional dance and music. Before the advent of European colonialism, Zambian traditional dance and music follows an distinctive typical cycle. The dances first involve a sequence of singing usually accompanied by synchronized clapping, and soon after the climax of the dance. Musical instruments usually include a number of different types and sizes of drums and other percussions like the shaking of gourds with dry seeds in them and rattles. The dance climax involves a wide repertoire of vigorous or elegant body movements. The dancers might stomp their feet harder, gyrate their hips sensuously or seductively, swing their arms from side to side while initiating graceful jerking movements of the head and neck like a swan. After the climax, the dancers resume the singing starting a new cycle.

The majority of traditional Zambian dances are done in the open with performers in the middle, and the drummers, singers, and other instrument players and audience forming a circle around the dancers. What is most exciting is that Zambian traditional dance is so participatory that the distinction between the audience and performers is constantly blurred. For example, the entire audience often participates in the singing. If a drummer is tired another individual who was standing in the audience would take over to relieve the tired individual. No one individual is ever credited with composing any one of the numerous songs used during all types of dances.

The mganda dance is performed for recreation between May and November, which is the dry season when there is no farming. Nowadays, the mganda dance involves young men in a particular village, practicing, and rehearsing outside the village during the week. Mganda might sometimes be performed on a competitive basis “on an away and home match basis.” On a mutually agreed afternoon, the group of young men and might walk up to 20 miles to perform at another rival village during a Sunday afternoon. In some cases, the dancers might have a tour during which they will walk many miles and perform at different villages along the way.


Functions of Mganda

The mganda dance is popular among the Tumbuka because it plays so many functions. The dance integrates very well what is new and traditional among the Tumbuka. It is an excellent Sunday afternoon entertainment for the people and engenders healthy competition among young dancers from different villages. The dance is especially a good medium for social commentary and provides a valuable social opportunity for young men and women from different villages to meet, interact, know and admire each other. Quite often, a young man and woman who marry might have first seen or met each other at a mganda dance.

The mganda dance is a means of social commentary. In communities in which the rate illiteracy is still high and people have no access to newspapers, radios and other modern mass media through which they could express themselves on current issues in their communities, the mganda dance provides such a popular forum. The dance routines and many song lyrics often manifest such commentary. For example, a particular song and dance routine might portray and criticize a polygamous man who shows unfair attention and love to a younger junior wife.

The mganda dance is also a channel for community and individual artistic self expression that depict elements of joy, confrontation, political and social caricature and mimicry of the past and present expressed in the song lyrics and especially dance routines.

Perhaps one of the most significant functions is that the mganda dance among the Tumbuka encourages healthy competition among communities and bodily cleanliness. Dancers have to be clean and neatly dressed. They are judged by the public and spectators on how clean and well groomed their bodies are and how well their uniform clothes were ironed. All of these functions create a sense of community and belonging, which are very important in creating community vitality among the Tumbuka of Zambia.


J. Clyde Mitchell, “The Kalela Dance: Aspects of Social Relationships among the Urban Manchester, Manchester University Press, 1956.
Gulliver, Pamela., Africans in Northern Rhodesia,” The Rhodes-Livingstone Papers N0. 27, Dancing Clubs of the Nyasa in Tanganyika: Notes and Records, 1951.
Jones, A.M., “The Mganda Dance”, (Bantu) African Studies, Vol. 4, N0. 4, 1945.
Kay, George., “Chief Kalaba’s Village: A Preliminary Survey of Economic Life in an Ushi Village, Northern Rhodesia,” The Rhodes-Livingstone Papers, N0. 35, 1964.
Ngulube, Naboth M.J., Some Aspects of Growing Up in Zambia, Lusaka: Nalinga Consultancy/SOL – Consult A/S Ltd., 1989.
Ranger, T.O., Dance and Society in Eastern Africa, Heinemann, 1975.
Republic of Zambia, Country Profile: Zambia 1984, Lusaka: Central Statistical Office, 1984.
Skjonsberg, Else., The Kefa Records: Everyday Life Among Women and Men in a Zambian Village. (Oslo: U-Landsseminaret, No. 21, 1981).
Tembo, Mwizenge S. Titbits for the Curious, Lusaka: Multimedia Publications, 1989.
Tembo, Mwizenge S., Mwila, Chungu., and Hayward, Peter., An Assessment of Technological Needs in Three Rural Districts of Zambia, Lusaka: Institute for African Studies, February 1982.
The American University, Zambia: a Country Study, Edited by Irving Kaplan, Washington, D.C , 1979.
University of Pennsylvania Museum, Dances of Southern Africa, film, 1960.

Mwizenge S. Tembo, Ph. D.
Bridgewater College, Box 74,
Bridgewater, VIRGINIA 22812
Office 540-828-5351
Fax # 540 – 828-5479
mtembo@bridgewater. edu
July 27, 1995

Zambia: Stop Teaching Girls How to Dance in Bed - Chief

14 October 2015

Zambian Watchdog (Lusaka)

CHIEF Mulolo of the Chewa people in Chadiza district, Eastern Province, has warned people in his chiefdom to stop initiating schoolgirls in traditional dance troupes because the practice is contributing to the high school dropout rate.

The traditional leader said he has noted that the traditional dances are contributing to the high number of children dropping out of school.


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Balls and traditions. Interesting facts

Ball, ball, ball!!!

Ball is always a holiday. Bright, colorful, sparkling, cheerful. And this holiday has always been desired and loved in Russia.

Balls were given all year round, but the season began in late autumn and continued throughout the winter. Often in one evening I had to attend two or three balls, which required considerable strength, besides, many balls ended in the morning, and the next day it was necessary to make visits and prepare for the upcoming amusements.

Balls and masquerade balls were divided into class, professional, age categories, timed to coincide with special celebrations, and were court, public, private, merchant, wedding, children's ...

Balls of the Noble Assembly, balls of artists and balls held by foreign embassies, merchant balls.

History of balls in Russia

The first ball in Russia took place in Moscow at the wedding of False Dmitry and Marina Mnishek.
Peter I resumed the balls, and since then they have become loved and revered both in the capitals and in the provinces of the Russian Empire.
Peter's assemblies became the prototype of future balls. The assemblies were gatherings with dances. Assemblies began to be held in St. Petersburg and Moscow as early as 1717 in the homes of the Russian nobility.

Assemblies served not only as a means of entertainment - "for fun", but also a place "for reasoning and friendly conversations. "

Then, during the reign of Anna Ioannovna, Elizabeth Petrovna and Catherine II, assemblies completely supplanted balls and masquerade balls.

A ball is a solemn public or secular event, the main component of which is a dance program.

Therefore, since the 18th century, dance has become a compulsory subject in all higher and secondary educational institutions, schools and boarding schools. It was studied at the royal lyceum and at modest vocational and commercial schools, at the gymnasium and at the cadet school.

In Russia, they not only perfectly knew all the latest and old ballroom dances, but also knew how to perfectly perform them. The dance culture of Russia in the 19th century stood at a high level.

Ballroom dress code

The ball has its own ceremonial and rules of conduct, which makes it so majestic and luxurious. All this allowed to maintain sophistication and attractiveness.

It was customary to come to the ball dressed smartly. Cavaliers - in a tailcoat pair, tuxedo or suit (depending on specific requirements and conditions), white shirt and vest. By the way, tailcoats were of different colors, only by the end of the 30s of the XIX century the fashion for black was established.

White gloves were an obligatory item of clothing for gentlemen. The civilians wore kid gloves, and the military wore suede gloves.
Moreover, according to the rules, the lady had every right to refuse the gentleman without gloves. Therefore, it was better to come to the ball in black gloves than no gloves at all.

Civilian gentlemen's costumes depended little on fashion and were recommended to be sewn in classical forms.

The military came in full dress uniforms corresponding to their regiments.

Cavaliers came to the ball in boots. Ballroom boots were also worn by the military, and only uhlans were allowed to wear boots. The presence of spurs was not approved. The fact is that the spurs tore the dresses during the dance. But some lancers broke this rule for the sake of panache.

Ladies and girls dressed in fashionable dresses. As a rule, the dress was sewn for one ball and only in extreme cases was used twice.

Ladies could choose any color for the dress, unless otherwise specified. For example, on January 24, 1888, an emerald ball was held in St. Petersburg, at which all those present were dressed in the appropriate color.

Dresses for girls were made in white or pastel colors - blue, pink and ivory, that is, the color of "ivory".

Matching gloves or white gloves were matched with the dress. By the way, wearing rings over gloves was considered bad manners. Even more interesting facts can be found in the historical park "Russia-My History".

Ladies could adorn themselves with a headdress.

The girls were encouraged to have a modest hairstyle. But in any case, the neck had to be open.

The cut of ball gowns depended on fashion, but one thing remained unchanged in it - open neck and shoulders.

With such a cut of the dress, neither a lady nor a girl could appear in the world without jewelry around the neck - a chain with a pendant or a necklace. That is, something had to be worn necessarily.

Ladies' jewelry could be any - the main thing is that they are chosen with taste. Girls were supposed to appear at balls with a minimum amount of jewelry, for example, with a pendant around their neck or a modest bracelet.

An important component of the ladies' ball costume was the fan, which served not so much to create a fresh breath, but as a language of communication, now almost lost.

Recovering to the ball, the lady took with her a ball book - carne or agenda - where, opposite the list of dances, she entered the names of gentlemen who wanted to dance this or that dance with her. Sometimes the reverse side of the fan could be used instead of the agend. It was considered excessive coquetry to brag about your completed agenda, especially to those ladies who were rarely invited.

Rules of conduct at the ball

By accepting the invitation to come to the ball, everyone thus assumed the obligation to dance. Refusing to participate in dances, as well as showing dissatisfaction or making it clear to a partner that you dance with him only out of necessity, was considered a sign of bad taste. And vice versa, it was considered a sign of good education at the ball to dance with pleasure and without coercion, regardless of the partner and his talents.

At a ball, more than at any other social event, a cheerful and amiable expression is appropriate. To show at the ball that you are not in a good mood or are dissatisfied with something is inappropriate and impolite in relation to those having fun.
Starting conversations with acquaintances before paying tribute to the owners was considered indecent. At the same time, not greeting acquaintances (even with a nod of the head) was also unacceptable.

There was a special culture of invitation to dance at the balls. An invitation to a dance was allowed in advance, both before the ball itself and at the ball. At the same time, it was considered impolite if a lady arrived at the ball promising more than the first three dances in advance.

In the ballroom, order and dancing are supervised by the ball steward.
During the ball, gentlemen should monitor the comfort and convenience of the ladies: bring drinks, offer help. The gentleman had to make sure that his lady was not bored.
Talking at a ball is certainly permissible. At the same time, it is not recommended to touch on complex and serious topics, as well as to gather a large company around you.

Buffoonery is not appropriate at balls. Even gentlemen who have a too cheerful disposition are advised to behave with dignity at the ball. Quarrels and quarrels between gentlemen are highly discouraged during the ball, but if disagreements arise, then it is recommended to resolve them outside the dance hall. Ladies are the main decoration of any ball. Therefore, it behooves them to behave affably and nicely. Loud laughter, slander, bad humor can cause disapproval of a decent society. The behavior of the ladies at the ball should be distinguished by modesty, the expression of extreme sympathy for any gentleman can give rise to condemnation.

Most of all, any manifestations of jealousy on the part of ladies and gentlemen are inappropriate at the ball. On the other hand, immodest looks and defiant behavior that provokes other participants in the ball are also unacceptable.


According to the rules, the gentleman began the invitation to dance with the hostess of the house, then all her relatives followed, and only then it was the turn to dance with their familiar ladies.

At the beginning of the 19th century, the ball opened with a polonaise, where in the first pair the host walked with the most honored guest, in the second pair - the hostess with the most honored guest.
At the end of the 19th century, the ball began with a waltz, but court, children's and merchant balls opened with a majestic polonaise.

During the 19th century, the number of dances that a gentleman could dance with one lady during a ball changed. So at the beginning of the century this number was equal to one, and already in the 1880s two or three dances were allowed, not following one after another in a row. Only the bride and groom could dance more than three dances. If the gentleman insisted on more than expected number of dances, the lady refused, not wanting to compromise herself.

During the dance, the gentleman entertained the lady with light secular conversation, while the lady answered modestly and laconic.
The cavalier's duties also included preventing collisions with other couples and preventing his lady from falling.

At the end of the dance, the gentleman asked the lady where to take her: to the buffet or to the place where he took her from. After exchanging mutual bows, the gentleman either left, or could remain next to the lady and continue the conversation for some time.

As a rule, after the mazurka, the gentleman led the lady to the table for dinner, where they could talk and even confess their love.
Everyone had dinner in the side parlors, at small tables.
In addition, a buffet was always open at the balls with various dishes, champagne, a large selection of hot and cold drinks.

At the beginning of the century, the ball ended with a cotillion or Greek dance, and from the second half of the 19th century, the ball program ended, as a rule, with a waltz.
The guests could leave whenever they liked, without focusing on their departure - but over the next few days, the invitee paid the hosts a grateful visit.

More information about this time period can be found in the historical park "Russia-My History".

tank, circle, spring dance, dance traditions in Russian regions.

Publications of the Traditions section

Who and when was the first to start a round dance in Rus' is not known for certain over the past years. The most ancient dance was originally part of a pagan rite - the worship of Yarila, the powerful god of the sun. And "walking after the sun" was firmly established in Slavic culture for many centuries. Natalya Letnikova delved into round dance traditions in Rus'.


Alexey Savrasov. Round dance in the village. 1874. State Tretyakov Gallery

And also Karagod, tank, circle, street. Many names of the dance loved by the people. According to Dahl - gatherings of rural youth in the free air for dancing with songs. According to the established tradition, young girls, having gone out into the street, began to "play songs" or started "jokes" when they met at the fairground. In the center of events, as a rule, was a round dance. A woman, the most groovy in the district. Choreographer and choir director by vocation - she started songs and came up with new dance pictures.

A round dance for a peasant girl, which for a young lady from high society is one of the ways to look after her husband. Somewhere the round dance age is from 12 years old, and somewhere later. The main thing is the number of daughters in the household. So the family sent, as if to a ball, first the older girls. The younger ones were kept in the shadows for the time being. In the round dance, the guys looked after their brides: is it good, is it a peahen, does it sing loudly.

Round dance from south to north

Spring round dance "luleish" songs

Song and choreographic tradition of the Verkhovazhsky district

Round dance tradition of the village of Lutny

Hand, little finger or scarf, belt, wreath. The connecting link in the round dance can be different. And each region has its own traditions. In the North, restraint is in honor. The girls float in a circle sedately and calmly. And the songs get more and more drawn out and melodious.

For example, in Komi on Krasnaya Gorka, seventeen folklore song plots that have developed over the centuries have been used. Each of the figures should be performed to a specific song and in its own rhythm: from slow at first to swift. The action is filled with images: men and women are separated side by side, the girls drop their headscarves, which the guys pick up. Round dance is a symbol of matchmaking.

In the central provinces the people were more active. Round dances started merrily and carefree, with stomps and claps, with provocative songs. The further south, the hotter. Both at the festivities, and in the round dance, which was about to turn into a dance. On warm evenings, the streets are more crowded, and more participants gathered in the round dance.

Round dance all year round

Alexey Stepanov. Round dance

Dancing is an idle occupation. And therefore, round dances were led on time - and on occasion.

In the spring, they played the game "Brook" - a symbol of melting snow. In paganism, the first spring round dances appeased the gods of fertility. On the day of Lada, in a chain, holding hands, they climbed the hills, dedicating a round dance to Mother Earth, calling out spring. In July, they praised Kupala and asked for the ripening of fruits - around the fire and with wreaths. In honor of Beregini, a round dance was led around a birch - a symbol of purity and the patroness of the family and the hearth.

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With the adoption of Christianity, round dances started outside of fasting and field work. We started from Holy Week immediately after Easter and to Krasnaya Gorka, sowing season - with a break for the harvest. In the summer - on holidays, like on Trinity. Again, one could think about dances in the second half of August - the autumn ones from Assumption to Pokrov, where meetings, work by fire and gatherings are already beginning.

Round dance science

Round dance in the Kursk province

Playful and ornamental. In Rus', they led two types of round dance. Ornaments - no plot, no roles. Know how to walk in circles, braid the figures in rows from a round dance chain. Choreographic intricacies were associated with images of Russian nature. “There was a birch in the field” with branches of a white-trunked tree that had barely blossomed in spring.

Patterns of lace makers and wood carvers were seen in round dances. Folk art, in turn, resembled a round dance snake on lace or a carved board. To captivate with new figures, complex and ornate, is a whole art and the task of an ingenious round dance.

Theatrical performance with the main characters and the plot, coupled with walking in circles. Feature of game round dances. A story song, characters that express their character through facial expressions and dance figures. They depicted not only people, but also animals and birds. They danced round dances on topical topics: the choice of a bride or groom, family matters, and even with social overtones - ridiculing the landowners.

What the round dance draws

Boris Kustodiev.

Learn more