Dancing Jerusalema in Zimbabwe and KwaZulu-Natal

The Jerusalema dance challenge has taken social media by storm. People from around the world are sharing videos of themselves dancing to the song Jerusalema by South African musician Master KG featuring the voice of songstress Nomcebo Zikone.

The upbeat gospel-influenced house song was only released in late 2019 and has to date amassed 140 million views on YouTube. Two of our clients have put a lot of time into creating their dance videos, Thanda Safari and African Bush Camps. Getting the choreography right wasn’t easy, but loads and loads of fun. I think that’s obvious when you watch the results.

In Zimbabwe, at Somalisa Camp the staff isn’t only dancing but eagerly preparing to come out of what African Bush Camps’ CEO, Beks Ndlovu, calls a “curl-up” period. Zimbabwe, along with nine African Bush Camps lodges and camps, reopens on October 1, 2020, for international travelers.

See the African Bush Camps Jerusalema video below. (and a good glimpse into Somalisa Camp)

Thanda Safari went all out under the careful curatorial eye of the resident photographer and field guide Christian Sperka, who directed and edited the Thanda Jerusalema video. South Africa is easing lockdown as of September 20 and will welcome international travelers as of October 1.

While you are still dancing, hopefully, see the Thanda Safari Jerusalema version below. 

What’s the story of the dance moves?

The Jerusalema dance is characterized by acrobatic and sensual movements by women and men, driven by a rhythmic drummer accompanied by men playing woodblock clappers and women hand-clapping, yodeling, and blowing whistles. In the course of the dance, men often crouch while jerking both arms and vigorously kicking the ground with the right leg in imitation of a burrowing mole. 

The dance’s curious name reveals much about evolving cultures throughout the centuries. Before colonial rule, this ancient fertility dance was called Mbende, the Shona word for “mole,” which was regarded as a symbol of fertility, sexuality, and family. Under the influence of Christian missionaries, who strongly disapproved of this sexually explicit dance, its name was changed to Jerusarema, deriving from the Shona adaptation of the name of the city of Jerusalem, to endow it with a religious connotation. Both terms are commonly used today. Despite its condemnation by the missionaries, the dance remained popular and became a source of pride and identity in the struggle against colonial rule.

Enjoy, and if you like, dance along!

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