The Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) has confirmed the death of a young girl, aged 9, following a distressing incident during a school gathering in Mabvuku. Reports indicate that the incident occurred when the girl, in an attempt to escape from masquerades known as “Zvigure,” tragically fell and suffered fatal injuries.
Authorities have launched a thorough investigation into the matter, seeking to shed light on the circumstances surrounding the presence of the Zvigure performers at the school premises. While the exact reason for their presence remains uncertain, it is speculated that they may have been hired to entertain or were involved in a cultural event held at the school.
“The ZRP confirms a sad incident in which a 9-year-old girl died after falling to the ground while running away from masquerades (Zvigure) at a school located along Sinini Drive, Eastview Phase1, Mabvuku, Harare on 15/05/23. Investigations are in progress,” ZRP said in a statement.
Masquerades, also referred to as “Zvigure,” are traditional dancers who adorn masks and partake in ceremonial performances within Zimbabwean culture. Originating from the Chewa ethnic group, primarily found in Malawi, Zambia, and Mozambique, with smaller populations in Zimbabwe and Tanzania, these dances hold historical significance dating back to the early 1900s when Chewa migrants introduced the tradition to Zimbabwe.
Incorporated into various traditional ceremonies such as weddings and initiation rites, the vibrant Zvigure dance captivates audiences with its mesmerizing music, intricate masks, and vibrant costumes. These masks, exquisitely crafted, depict diverse characters ranging from ancestors and spirits to animals.
Recognized by UNESCO as a masterpiece of oral and intangible heritage, both Zimbabwe and Malawi embrace Zvigure, known as Gule Wamkulu in Malawi, as an essential cultural tradition. However, it is important to note that while the dance itself is not inherently violent, there have been instances in Zimbabwe where the use of Zvigure masks and costumes has been associated with violence and criminal activities.