baziliwazi.jpgAt a recent burial of one of Zimbabwe’s heroes who was from a Tonga origin, the traditional tribal Tonga dance captivated many at the national shrine.

The dance with its drum and whistle is a form of gun salute to the departed, this time Cde Andrew Sikajaya Muntaga who was also affectionately known as Silumamba Mupati – The Great Soldier.

Despite the decline of traditional music, its influences can still be heard in the Zambezi Valley where the Tonga people reside.

When they came to lay their son Andrew Sikajaya Muntanga to rest, their music turned the moment of sadness into a cultural display that illuminated the national shrine.

According to a culture expert Reverend Paul Bayethe Damasane, the when the Tonga mourn, they play the Budima drum and the whistle.

Budima drums have a goblet shape and come in sizes ranging from all sizes.

One of the most interesting of drums is the so-called “lion drum” (Namalwa in Tonga) used at traditional funerals.

This is a friction drum which is not struck at all but which has a stick inserted through the drum head that is rubbed.

The dance is a form of a celebration of life and is played to send a message to the spirits in the other world to welcome the departed soul.

To the sound of dancing and the drumbeat, so departs the late.

On the faces of the Tonga people, one can almost tell that the winds of destiny blowing on the departed’s back are an assurance that he will rest in peace in the next world.

With the company of such beautiful music and choreography, it is no wonder the Tonga dance has been a timeless survivor amid an erosion of so many cultural components.