Mukwerera, a Shangwe rainmaking ceremony: Its music, dance and symbols

Renias Ngara
Music, Fort Hare
November, 2012
Renias Ngara is currently a lecturer at Great Zimbabwe University in the Faculty of Culture and Heritage Studies and an Acting-Chairperson for the Department of Performing Arts. Presently, he has published two articles in peer reviewed journals and the other two are pending publication at the end March 2014. Three articles are still under review.


Rainmaking ceremonials were commonly practised among African cultures. This study surveyed mukwerera rainmaking ritual as an embodiment of the Shangwe culture in the Gokwe District in the Midlands Province of Zimbabwe. Mukwerera music and its jichi female - male dance were embedded in active mythological symbolisms and yet these symbols had not been documented in a way to preserve them. Subsequently, the study examined how the ritual was connected to mythological concepts, themes of gender and sexuality in jichi music and dance. I established that: 1). The perception of jichi as a gendered dance was derived from Nevana, the Shangwe rain spirits use of a wooden plate and a stick in making rain. 2).The wooden plate and the stick were symbolic to the female and male beings, hence the conception of jichi as a gendered dance. 3). The dance was presented in three patterns called The Jichi Dance Model. 4) Jichi dance portrayed what one can refer to as cultural-conditional gendered equality, a kind of equality that existed during the dance only. 5).The request for rain followed a long established mode that one may refer to as the Mukwerera Hierarchical Traditional Communication Model. 6) Gender roles existing in the spiritual realm are a reflection of gender roles found in societies and vice versa. 7). Male dominance over female in the world of spirits might be a reflection of male dominance in societies. 8) Hierarchies evident in the spiritual kingdom may be a mirror of hierarchies found in societies, and the former can be an explanation of the latter.