The Ngwao Ya Tshona Traditional Dancers from the tiny Northern Cape village of Batlharoshave been selected to perform at the official sod-turning for the new Tshipi é Ntle manganese mine. The sod turning will take place on September 14, 2011.

The traditional dancers may practice in a tiny tin-roofed hut but on September 14 they will be wowing international guests at the sod-turning of the new R1,7-billion Tshipi é Ntle manganese mine

The group’s leader Motlhwaahatsi “Lighties” Keupilwe said it was a great honour for the group to be chosen.

“Important international visitors will attend the sod-turning, some of them have never been to Africa before so it will give us a chance to showcase the traditions of the Northern Cape, which are little known in the rest of the world,” he said.

“The new mine is near Mamatwan in the Northern Cape and I think everyone in the area appreciate the fact that Ntsimbintli Mining and Jupiter Mining, which own the new mine, are trying hard to promote the Northern Cape and to use local people for everything connected with the mine. The mining people have been very helpful to us; we are now on Youtube. Before we got hired I didn’t even know what Youtube is.”

Ngwao Ya Tshona was founded in 1993, in the tiny village of Batlharos near Kuruman, a collection of tin roofed huts that the group still calls home. The band now has 13 members – six musicians and seven dancers – and a cult following in the region.

The group infuse their performances with humour and feature loin-clothed maidens teasing the boys who court them with dance steps. All their songs are in Setswana.

“Our reputation is growing,” said Lighties. “We have won every competition we have entered and have performed in Botswana, Namibia, Lesotho and Swaziland.”

Saki Macozoma, chairperson of Tshipi é Ntle, said: “I am constantly amazed at the depth of talent in South Africa. Ngwao Ya Tshona is a national treasure, a repository of a school of music that is uniquely South African.”

Ngwao Ya Tshona