“I am Zim's best dancer”

HARARE - Award-winning female dancer Cheryl Mabaya is endowed with captivating confidence that might easily be mistaken for arrogance.

The Inkululeko Yabatsha School of Arts (Iyasa dancer, who has been on tour with the award-winning Bulawayo dance group in Austria since March, believes she deserves a place among the country’s best ever female dancers.

“I wish to selfishly declare that I am the best dancer to come out of Zimbabwe ever but I have a great respect for great and very talented dancers who were at Iyasa before me- Sandra Ndebele,Nomathamsanqa “Nkwali” Mkhwananzi and Pepsi Magonya,” Mabaya told the Daily News on Sunday.

The talented dancer conceded, though, that she and other current members of Iyasa have to dig deep all the time to surpass the high standards set by the Bulawayo dance group since it was formed 16 years ago from former members of a Mpopoma High School drama club.

“I have a lot respect for our brothers and sisters who pioneered this dream. I think they set a great example for us. They set very high standards and every day we do our best to maintain them.

“I particularly respect the likes of (Austria-based) Futurelove Sibanda, Nkwali and Sandra Ndebele who are from Iyasa generations before us. We are also doing our best to raise the Iyasa torch even higher,” she said.

Mabaya believes her determination to surpass the heights reached by the likes of Sandra Ndebele and Futurelove Sibanda is the key reason why she is always being considered for awards.

In 2015 Mabaya landed the National Arts Merit Awards (Nama) Outstanding Female Dancer of the Year gong after prevailing over equally competitive fellow nominees who included Maylene Chenjerai from Tumbuka Dance Company and the Dance Trust of Zimbabwe’s Charlene Chimara.

The multi-talented Mabaya is also well-placed win another gong at the inaugural Bulawayo Arts Awards set to be held at the Large City Hall on June 30. The celebrated Iyasa dancer has been nominated in the Outstanding Female Dancer category where she will slug it out with Dadirai Mpandawana (Ezimnyama Dance Ensemble) and Zanele Maseko (Hloseni Arts).

Mabaya regards the Bulawayo Arts Awards as even more special.

“To be noticed and to be celebrated by your own city is an honour. This nomination means so much to me. It means people appreciate me. I am especially delighted because this is the inaugural edition. I am elated and excited and I am looking forward to the awards,” she said.

Though Mabaya is better known as a dancer, she is convinced that she is an equally talented actor and singer.

“In Zimbabwe I am, and Iyasa too, popular for dance but I am also an actor and singer. I have featured in over three Iyasa music albums and I have also done television commercials where I have showcased my singing talent.

“The most popular song l led is Iyasa's hit song “S'jaiva Sibancane.” This song put me on the world map. I have also featured in several theatre productions in Zimbabwe and in Europe. Notably l was part of the musical Zambezi Express,” Mabaya told the Daily News on Sunday.

Zambezi Express, which was created two years ago to mark Bulawayo-based Siyaya Arts Ensemble’s 25th anniversary, toured Zambia Swaziland and South Africa before going on an extended tour of Europe.

“Touring several countries with the Zambezi Express cast was a memorable time for me. It contributed a huge part to my development as an artiste,” the multi-talented Bulawayo-born said.

Mabaya credits Iyasa founder Nkululeko Innocent Dube for transforming her from a rookie to an acclaimed artiste.

“I first ventured into the arts in my late primary school days and I later joined Iyasa’s junior training programme. That was when my current director Nkululeko Innocent Dube noticed my potential.

“He (Dube) has been such an amazing mentor to me. He gave me the platform from that girl at the back to a front runner, lead singer and dancer. He is my inspiration and my father in the arts,” she told the Daily News on Sunday, adding that she was living her dream thanks to the vision of the Iyasa founder.

“I am currently on tour in Austria with Iyasa. We came to Europe in March and we will return to Zimbabwe in September. We are having a great time here.

“We are on tour in Austria for six months every year and naturally it feels like we now belong here (Austria). We have also toured several Asian countries.”

Comments (1)

Hi, Just as a way of re-introducing myself; I am a Zimbabwean living in the United States since being forced out Zimbabwe in 2003. Your record may show me as Constantine Kureva Mkinya. I did an official change of name here and would be happy to establish all my bona fides with you.The Daily News, then though one Lloyd Mudiwa covered a lot of the sensitive cases I represented when I was practicing Law in Zimbabwe. My Law Firm used to be called Mkinya and Associates. I represented the case where Jocelyn Chiwenga took a farm from Roger Staunton and the Daily New covered it very well. I also represented Jeremy Callow when his farm was forcibly taken over by James Makamba. I was also the investigating Lawyer in the inquest fro the death of Peter Pamire. The last time the Daily News covered me was when I declined an appointment as a High Court Judge when I realized the appointment was tainted with corruption. Its been a struggle relocating , settling and re-establishing myself in the United States but I am in a much better place now. I am going into the writing business, first a book on our dramatic escape from Zimbabwe and about the nightmares before the American Dream; second, I am going into the blogging business over the next few months and if I make the progress I expect, Who knows where this might end. I have directed this email to you because I am trying to see if there are chances to get a column in your paper or whether there are topic you may want me to cover for or from the Diaspora perspective. I wrote briefly for the Weekend Tribune before it was closed and my specialty was writing on topical legal issues. I would appreciate a response from the appropriate Editorial or managerial Staff member to discuss this. My Mobile number is +1440-494-3797

Chamaneka Mkinya - 7 July 2017

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