June 21st, 2024

From America’s Got Talent to the Stampede stage: Cirque Zuma Zuma a must

By Gillian Slade on July 27, 2018.


It’s the story of Africa’s traditions, rhythms and agile body movements wrapped in toe-tapping music.

Cirque Zuma Zuma goes all the way back to 2011 and an appearance they made on America’s Got Talent, said Matiga Koba, originally from Tanzania. The group is comprised of between 20 and 30 individuals from Africa with some of them at Medicine Hat Exhibition & Stampede.

There are three performances on Friday and again on Saturday at 1:15 p.m., 3:34 p.m. and 7 p.m. on the free stage near the main entrance.

Music is part of many traditional African village celebrations. Mpho Mambira, from Zimbabwe, plays the mlimba. The musical instrument produces a rich tone you can feel in your chest as Mambira touches the wooded slats on top and the tone reverberates through suspended PVC pipes below.

He says traditionally dried gourd shells would be used instead of PVC pipes but the gourds are simply not robust enough to travel to performances. The mlimba he plays is a baritone but some are tuned to be soprano, tenor or base.

When a young man finds a young girl in another village and it is time for the families to get to know each other the mlimba would be part of the festivities, said Patrick Bora, from Kenya.

The performance is all about “life and tradition” he explained.

“It’s a way to open eyes and minds to the beauty of Africa,” said Bora.

The music also becomes the backdrop for exhibiting amazing agility that includes acrobatics, tremendous balancing skills a top four chairs stacked one on top of the other.

There is also a stick one performer holds and manipulates in his mouth to balance a ball, balloon, candlesticks and even a wine glass.

It is a high energy, entertaining, performance to get your feet tapping and your hands applauding enthusiastically.

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