On Saturday and Sunday I participated in the 2018 #JoziWalks weekend. Sponsored by the Johannesburg Development Agency, #JoziWalks invites people/groups from all over Joburg to organize walking tours in their communities. (Read about last year’s #JoziWalks.)
On Saturday I joined the walk through Orange Farm, led by the InTouch Youth Development group.
Orange Farm is a township founded in 1988. It’s an hour’s drive south of downtown Joburg — a perfect illustration of the spacial segregation of apartheid. There are very few jobs in Orange Farm so virtually everyone (I mean everyone able to find a job, which isn’t easy) living there has to make the long, costly commute to Joburg for work.
I was excited for this walk as I’d never been to Orange Farm before. It was really interesting seeing a new place, and I was particularly blown away by the dancing.
Dancing in Orange Farm
We watched three dance groups perform: a Tswana dance group called Jascho, a Pantsula group called Killers Entertainment, and a Zulu dance group called Khensani Youth Production.
My photos don’t convey what it was like to watch these dancers in person. Video would be much better but I don’t really do video. Here are the photos anyway.
The Tswana dancers (Tswana is one of South Africa’s 11 official languages, and also one of its main cultural groups) performed first, in an amphitheater on a hill overlooking the rest of the township.
We walked a lot more after that, and the tour eventually concluded at a Total garage (gas station) near where we began. I confess I was completely exhausted by that point and eager to get started on the long drive home. But then the next two dance groups came on, starting with the Pantsula group. Both groups took my breath away.
Pantsula is a modern dance genre that is unique to South Africa, combining elements of traditional dance and hip-hop. Read more and watch a video here.
Lastly, the Zulu dancers. I generally try not to overuse superlatives. But I’ve seen quite a few Zulu dances in my time, and this was by far the best — not just because of the dancers’ skill (which they had in spades), but also their incredible intensity and raw emotion.
Best of all, the group was mostly women.
As I said, video isn’t my thing but here is a ten-second clip from my phone.
I have the names of these groups and nothing more, so I can’t tell you when or where to go see them. All I can do is encourage you to seek out South African dance whenever and wherever you can. It’s always amazing.
Thanks to #JoziWalks and all the organizers in Orange Farm for an amazing day.