Makishi Now


VICTORIA FALLS, Zimbabwe - Mary "Fred" Forrest's four tribal groups perform a program called Traditional Dancing every night except Christmas at her Falls Craft Village, a tourist attraction that replicates the life-style of six ethnic groups in Zimbabwe.

  Forrest and her husband, Cyril, had the idea to create a public showcase for native dancing in the Zambezi river area after they reproduced a tribal Ndbele village near the fabled falls. The Forrests, who had made an extensive study of traditional African societies, constructed the village according to the specifications of a tribal headman.

Falls Craft Village is now the only place in Zimbabwe where traditional dances can be seen on a regular basis. Though Zimbabwe has a national dance Company that performs native dances, its venues are limited and the dancing in tribal communities is off-limits to the public.

Traditional Dancing began in February 1970 with one Makishi (the collective name for several tribes) dancer, who was then working as a tailor, and four drummers. Later, seven dancers from the Shangan tribe were added to the troupe to perform in public the dances done in their villages. Forrest, who has studied ballet and modern dance, expanded the Traditional Dancing program after her husband's death in 1982. Now, seventyfive dancers and drummers perform ten or eleven different traditional dances every night.  

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